Here I am a black man with a white mans heart, he said. In the end thats what God wants us to do. He wants us to help and he wants us to share. — Rod Carew
MLB legend Rod Carew accomplished things on the baseball field with his batting wizardry that very few humans in the history of the sport could even fathom. For 19 years, he starred for the small market Minnesota Twins and big city California Angels. Carew is considered one of the greatest pure hitters in the history of the game. He was so prolific in fact, that the American League batting title was named after him.
Of Panamanian descent, Carew was recently honored at the 2017 MLB All-Star Game as one of eight Latin Lords who diversified and dominated baseball and introduced a Latin flavor that has become the driving force behind MLB’s current culture.
To call Carew a living legend is an understatement. His funky batting stance and incomparable plate coverage are mythical. The way he dangled his bat low, like a drunken monk in a B-boy stance, and his sparkling .328 career batting average and 3,053 hits were just the beginning of his all-around magnificence.
Three decades after his retirement in 1985, after nearly dying from a massive heart attack and hanging onto life with the help of an extraordinary transplant, Carew has found another passion that stirs his soul and brings out the best in him the same way that baseball did.
HBO’s Award-winning series, Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, dispatched Correspondent Bernard Goldberg to sit down with Carew, who is now dedicating his life to patient advocacy. The segment airs on today’s show, Tuesday, July 18th at 11:00 PM ET.
Bernard Goldberg tells the extraordinary story of Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who nearly died after a massive heart attack, and the family with whom he shares a stunning connection. Real Sports on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/realsportshbo/ HBO Boxing on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HBOboxing HBO Boxing Official Site: http://itsh.bo/HQslC8. HBO Sports on HBO GO http://itsh.bo/ij8oqS.
I hear people say its my time to go. I felt the opposite, Carew tells Goldberg, recalling the day he was out on the golf course and almost died on the first hole from a massive heart attack. That was in 2015.
I still…had work to do.
For the past two decades, he’s been advocating for the rights, improved medical care and support of sick children. His years of dedication to others resulted in him receiving those blessings back in the form of a life-saving procedure that came from an unlikely source.
After his heart attack, Carew went on the organ waiting list. The 71-year-old received the heart and kidney of Konrad Reuland, a former NFL tight end with the Baltimore Ravens who had died four days earlier after a ruptured brain aneurysm at age 29.
After discovering that Konrad Reuland’s death from a brain aneurysm, the Reuland family had an emotional first meeting with the recipient of Konrad’s heart, Hall of Fame baseball player Rod Carew.
The Reuland and Carew families have since joined in campaigning to also bring awareness to organ donation.
Theres so much more to the story, which takes you on an emotional ride chronicling the intersection of two peoples journeys and the extreme good that has come from a bittersweet situation.
FOX Sports North takes a nostalgic look back at Rod Carew’s MVP summer of 1977.