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Baseball Card Hall of Fame

Rod Carew 1968 #080

by William Szczepanek

1968 Topps Rod Carew #080This 1968 card #080 of Rod Carew is not his rookie card, which he shared with Hank Allen of the Senators, but it is the first card devoted to Carew alone and denotes his All Star and Rookie of the Year status in 1967. Carew was elected to the All Star squad for the first 18 years of his career, the last year being the only year he was not an All Star.

Carew slashed, slapped, lined, chopped and bunted the ball to all fields. He was a singles hitter like those of the early 1900's with a batting stance reminiscent of that by-gone era, but he didn't walk much. He played from 1967 to 1985 for the Minnesota Twins and the California Angels.  Carew is the All time leading All Star vote getter. Carew stole home seven times in the 1969 season, coming one short of Ty Cobb's Major League record of eight and the most in the majors since Pete Reiser swiped the plate seven times for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946. Carew's career total of 17 steals of home currently ranks him in 17th place tied with Larry Doyle and Eddie Collins.

Carew led the AL in hits 3 times and won seven AL Batting crowns. In 1972, he led the American League in hitting, .318, without hitting a home run during the season. Carew is the only player in the modern era to win the batting title without a home runs. In 1975, Carew lead both the American and National Leagues in batting average for three consecutive seasons joining Ty Cobb as the only player to accomplish that feat. In 1977, Carew batted .388, the highest batting average since Boston's Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. As a singles hitter in 1977 Carew compiled a .570 slugging percentage which was second in the league that year behind Jim Rice of Boston. Combine that with his ability to steal bases, turning singles into doubles, doubles into triples and triples into home runs his real value to the Twins that year was obvious, thus he was awarded the AL MVP in 1977. Carew finished his career with 3,053 hits and a career batting average of .328, hitting over .300 for 15 consecutive seasons.

Rod Carew 7th steal of home

Carew holds the record for most steals in an inning with 3.  On May 18, 1969 with the Twins down to the Tigers 2 - 0 in the bottom of the third Cesar Tovar worked a single off of Mickey Lolich of the Tigers. Lolich balked Tovar to 2nd with Carew at bat. Tovar then stole 2nd. Carew was then walked to set up the double play. With Harmon Killebrew at the plate Carew stole 2nd base and Tovar stole home on the double steal. Carew then stole third and then home off Lolich, pitcher and Bill Freehan, catcher before Killebrew struck out. The Twins managed 2 runs on a single and a walk without an error.

At the end of his career Rod Carew was a free agent, since the Angels did not offer him new contract. Surprisingly, he received no offers from other teams. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. In January of 1995, nearly a decade after his forced retirement, arbitrator Thomas Roberts ruled that the owners had violated the rules of baseball's second collusion agreement. Rod Carew was awarded damages of $782,036, equivalent to what he would have likely received in 1986.

He has an uncanny ability to move the ball around as if the bat were some kind of magic wand. ─ Ken Holtzman

You can check out Carew's statistics at Baseball Reference.com.

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