Title/Author:“Carew” by Rod Carew with Ira Berkow
Tags:Baseball, memoir, Twins, Angels
Publish date:March 29, 2010 (paperback – original publication May 22, 1979)
Rating:4 of 5 stars (very good)
Review:Rod Carew is considered one of the best pure hitters in baseball history. With seven batting titles, more than 3,000 hits and 18 All-Star selections, he was a first-ballot Hall of Fame player elected in 1991. When he was still a player, he penned a memoir of his life and baseball career to that point with sportswriter Ira Berkow. Additional information, especially on his life after baseball, and a foreword by Torii Hunter was published in 2010. This review covers the latter publication.
What struck me most about the entire book, whether it was discussing his childhood, his time in the minor leagues or his stellar Major League career, was his candidness. If something bothered him or he felt it was wrong, he didn’t mince words in this book. Whether he was talking about his father, the frugality of the owner of the Minnesota Twins at that time, Calvin Griffith, or the perceived mistreatment he received from others, the reader will certainly know how Carew felt. The reader may not always agree and may even close the book with the perception that he was a moody or even arrogant person. I believe that is a positive for reading the book as the reader will learn who the real Rod Carew is.
His discussions about hitting are just as good as when he would step into the batter’s box as much can be learned about his methods and theories on hitting. Something that was well known during his career is that he employed many different batting stances depending on the pitcher or situation. He explains why he would use certain stances as well as describe the unique construction of his bats and the way he held the bat which appeared to be very loose. These were fascinating revelations, even if Carew fans like me know this information already.
He was raised in Panama in a family that didn’t have much money and his father was not always present (something that the reader is reminded of throughout the book even during Rod’s adulthood) but his love for baseball is reflected on what he did to ensure he had a ball and glove to play the game. When he and his family were brought to the United States, he was quickly discovered by baseball scouts. His story about how the Twins wanted to make sure he was signed before anyone else knew about his talent was entertaining.
Carew spent the first 12 years of his career with the Twins where he won all seven of his batting titles. In 1979, just before writing this book, he was traded to the California Angels as the cash-poor Twins couldn’t afford to sign him to a new contract and traded him for four players rather than lose him to free agency. His time with the Angels and his life after baseball is covered in the new material. He experienced tragedy during this time, with the death of his daughter Michelle and subsequent divorce, as well as good times. He fondly writes about meeting and marrying his second wife Rhonda and his time spent back with the Twins as a roving coach.
Overall, this is a very good memoir first written at the peak of his career. Some readers might be turned off by the tone of his words on events and people that he did not like but as stated earlier, he comes across as honest in these passages. Readers who are Twins or Carew fans will enjoy this book.
Book Format Read:Paperback