Carew records 3,000th hit in classic style

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

Rod Carew’s 3,000th hit looked much like the 2,999 before it: A soft liner into left field by a batter who seemed to wield the lumber like it was some kind of magic wand.

On Aug. 4, 1985, Carew’s magic was as mesmerizing as ever.

At age 39, Carew became the 16th member of the 3,000-hit club with his third-inning single off Minnesota’s Frank Viola at Anaheim Stadium. The 41,630 fans in attendance that Sunday afternoon saw the culmination of a journey at began 18 years before when Carew was a rookie with the Twins.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” said Carew, who was playing under the shadow of an impending players strike set for Aug. 6 that ended the following day. “Now I can sleep at night.”

Carew’s first hit came in his first big league at-bat on April 11, 1967 – a single against the Orioles’ Dave McNally. He would quickly establish himself as one of the best hitters in baseball, winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award with a .292 batting average.

In 1969, Carew – a native of Panama who came to the United States at age 14 but did not play high school baseball – won the first of his seven AL batting titles with a .332 average.

After 12 seasons with the Twins, Carew was traded to the Angels prior to the 1979 season.

“It’s just a great feeling – great feelings that no one can describe,” Carew told the San Bernadino County Sun after his 3,000th hit. “I’ve heard the names all along: Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Paul Waner. It’s just a great feeling.”

The crowd at Anaheim Stadium – hoping to see history that day – gave Carew a two-minute standing ovation following his milestone him. After reaching first base, Carew shook hands with coach Bobby Knoop and then accepted congratulations from his smiling teammates.

Angels manager Gene Mauch presented Carew with the first base bag, and team owner Gene Autry addressed Carew from the field.

“Believe me, it’s a great honor to have you in an Angel uniform,” Autry said, “and it’s quite a thing to have you do it against a team you played so long with.”

Carew retired following the 1985 season with a .328 career batting average, 3,053 hits and 18 All-Star Game selections.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991.

“You know he’s got to get (his hits),” said Twins coach – and Carew’s Hall of Fame teammate – Tony Oliva following Carew’s 3,000th hit. “The only way he wasn’t going to get them is if someone cut off his hands – and even then he’d probably find a way.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series