Whether he was demonstrating electricity on the basepaths or consistency at the plate, Rod Carew generated offense like few others.
Of Carew’s 353 career stolen bases, 17 were thefts of home, including seven in 1969 -- one short of the single-season record Ty Cobb established in 1912. He also won seven American League batting championships, including six in seven years between 1972-78.
Here’s a sampling of the top 10 moments in Carew’s Hall of Fame career:
1. '77 was heaven
Carew finished the season with a .388 batting average, the Majors’ highest since Boston’s Ted Williams recorded the same figure in 1957. Carew’s average vaulted from .396 to .403 with a 4-for-5 day against the White Sox on June 26, and he remained above .400 for 13 games in a row. A 1-for-5 performance against the Angels on July 11 dropped him from .401 to .398. Though nobody knew it yet, that essentially ended Carew’s pursuit of .400. He was awarded AL Most Valuable Player that season.
2. No catching this thief
May 8, 1969
Facing Detroit left-hander Mickey Lolich, Carew not only stole second base, but also third and home. This marked the 41st time in big league history and the 20th time ever in the AL that a runner stole every base in an inning.
3. An inevitable milestone
Aug. 4, 1985
As one of the game’s most prolific hitters, Carew seemed destined to reach the 3,000-hit plateau. Playing for the Angels, he fittingly notched his big hit against his original team, the Twins, when he delivered a third-inning single off Frank Viola.
4. Powerless yet proficient
Oct. 3, 1972
The season ends with Carew winning his second batting title -- without hitting a single home run. This had not occurred since 1918, when Pittsburgh’s Zack Wheat went homerless to win the National League batting crown. Carew was never counted on to supply power. He accumulated 92 homers in his 19-year career.
5. Cooperstown calls
July 21, 1991
This was the date of Carew’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He reached the shrine in his first year of eligibility, earning mention on 401 of 443 (90.5 percent) ballots cast. This was Carew’s reward for batting higher than .300 in 15 consecutive seasons. He joined an illustrious class of inductees that year that also included right-handers Gaylord Perry and Ferguson Jenkins, Yankees legend Tony Lazzeri and innovator Bill Veeck.
6. Just fine for starters
April 11, 1967
The results of Carew’s Major League debut shouldn’t come as a surprise. Facing Orioles left-hander Dave McNally, he delivered a second-inning single in his first plate appearance. Carew finished the game 2-for-4. Continuing to look and feel at home, he earned his first of 18 selections to the AL All-Star team a few months later.
7. Five’s alive
May 8, 1967
Carew records his first career five-hit game in a 7-4 loss to Washington. Playing second base -- he switched to first base in 1976 -- he won the AL Rookie of the Year Award while batting .292 for the Twins.
8. Postseason push
Oct. 3-6, 1979
The Angels fell to Baltimore in four games of the best-of-five AL Championship Series, despite Carew’s best efforts. He hit .412 (7-for-17) and scored four runs.
9. Gaining baseball immortality
July 12, 2016
Carew received the ultimate compliment on this date, when it was announced that each year’s leading hitter in the AL would receive the Rod Carew American League Batting Championship Award. It was a fitting testament to a man whose total number of batting titles was eclipsed only by Cobb’s eight.
10. Reversal of fortune
May 6, 1973
Carew entered this date batting an uncharacteristic .242. There was no cause for alarm. He proceeded to hit .588 (10-for-17) through the next four games en route to winning his third batting championship.