Eager to share some hitting tips and determined to preserve the history and lore of America’s favorite pastime, Rod Carew picked up a bat and ball at Andover High School’s baseball field last week.
The Hall of Fame baseball player – along with a half-dozen more Twins coaches – conducted a Minnesota Twins Youth Baseball Camp at the high school July 23 and 24.
Some 45-50 ball players ages 6-15 had a “couple of regular days of hitting, fielding and throwing” during the camp, Carew said.
Players from Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids, Andover, Ramsey and beyond practiced hitting drills designed to correct flaws and improve swings; defensive drills, including infield and outfield work; and throwing drills designed to teach players the correct way to throw to gain velocity, accuracy and avoid arm injuries.
For Carew, it was just a couple of “regular days.”
But for the young ball players, the days seemed anything but “regular.”
Dylan Withrow, a 14-year-old first baseman from Seattle, said his parents were coming to town to visit friends and when he heard that Rod Carew was going to be at the high school, he begged his parents to let him come along.
“I got to hit with Rod Carew. … Are you kidding me? Rod Carew? No way was I not going to be here,” Withrow said.
The best hitting tip the seven-time Major League Baseball batting champion shared with him?
“He said just don’t make it so complicated. Just see the ball leave the pitcher’s hand and watch it hit your bat,” Withrow said.
Carew, who played for the Minnesota Twins from 1967-1978 and for the California Angels from 1979-1985, was a “batting wizard who lined, chopped and bunted his way to 3,053 hits and seven batting titles,” as inscribed on his Hall of Fame plaque hanging in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
Not only that, Carew had a .328 lifetime batting average and hit better than .300 for 15 consecutive seasons. Those numbers are only surpassed by Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner.
So even though the young players each paid $200 to participate in the Twins Youth Training Camp at Andover High School, those boys considered the batting tips they got from Carew “priceless.”
“You can’t buy that. You can’t put a price on what he’s teaching us. This is the greatest,” said Finn McLaughlin, 10, a player with Coon Rapids Athletic Association, gripping a baseball Carew autographed for him.
Since his retirement from playing professional baseball, Carew has devoted time and energy to the game’s next generation, coaching the Anaheim Angels in California (1992–1999) and the Milwaukee Brewers (2000–2001), and conducting Twins Youth Training Camps. Carew also serves as an international youth baseball instructor for Major League Baseball.
“There’s some good kids out there,” Carew said, tipping his cap to ball players sitting in Andover High School dug outs, taking a break for lunch during the July 23 training camp.
“What’s important is that they appreciate the history of the game and respect the game for the great game that it is,” he said.
Don Gawreluk, head baseball coach at the high school, was the key man in getting the camp scheduled at Andover.
“He’s just really great with the kids,” Gawreluk said about Carew. “We’ve got kids here from all over – Albertville, North Dakota, Seattle – as well as Coon Rapids, Andover, Ramsey, Blaine, … and he wants to see them have the same enthusiasm and fire for the game that he has. For these kids to get to talk baseball with him, to hang out with him – that’s really something for them, and for us.”
Before arriving at Andover, Carew and the Twins personnel conducted Youth Training Camps in Minnetonka and Woodbury on July 1-2 and July 21-22, respectively. Another was held in Fargo on June 23-24 and a one-day camp took place at Target Field on June 17.
For more about Minnesota Twins Youth Training Camps, visit mlb.mlb.com/min/community/youth_camps.jsp.
Sue Austreng is at