While the rest of the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will be announced a week from yesterday, I’ve been busy looking at the books written by and about the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It’s always interesting to read about what made a player the way that they are and what it was like to play in that area.
After finishing George Vecsey’s biography of Stan Musial, I immediately started on Carew by Rod Carew. Carew started his career out with the Minnesota Twins, where he played for 12 seasons. When his autobiography was originally published in 1979, he was finishing up his time with the Twins before heading west to play for the Los Angeles Angels, then known as the California Angel, for the final seven seasons of his career.
Originally published in 1979, the book was reprinted in 2010 with an afterward that explores the remainder of Carew’s baseball career and what happened in his life since. It’s an honest and forthright memoir that doesn’t ignore what happened off the field. Carew writes candidly about growing up in Panama and later Harlem, where he moved in his teenagers. Playing for the sandlot teams in the Bronx is what enabled Carew to be scouted by the Twins. Carew revisits the 1977 Twins season, where he hit for .400 only to fall short as the season wore on. But for a few brief weeks at the end of June and start of July, his .400 batting average was all the talk of baseball.
In his book, Carew writes about his philosophy and approach to hitting. Early on in the book, he tells what it takes to make it to the big leagues. It’s good advice for anyone that wants to play baseball or is currently in the minor leagues and wants to make the big leagues.
There’s the off-the-field issues, too, like growing up in poverty and dealing with an abusive father that he would not really talk about in the early years of his baseball career–not even with his wife. Because of his interracial marriage, Carew had to deal with racism. It’s unfortunate that he had to go through those events in the 1970s.
The afterword covers some highs and lows of his post-baseball life. While Carew was inducted on the first ballot in 1991, he lost his youngest daugher, Michelle, to leukemia. This, ultimately, led to his marriage breaking up. Carew would remarry in the early 2000s after taking a year away from baseball.
While talking about the Hall of Fame, Carew details why he chose to go into the Hall with a Twins cap rather than Angels.
Carew is highly recommended.