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Patrick Reusse

Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: New Carew book coming in May with apt title: 'One Tough Out'

A new autobiography featuring Rod Carew will be released in May. It carries the title of “Rod Carew: One Tough Out,’’ and was written with Jaime Aron, a longtime sportswriter in Texas and now a senior writer for the American Heart Association.

Carew was a seven-time American League batting champion, all in his 12 seasons in Minnesota, yet the title refers more to Sir Rodney’s long road back from a massive heart attack suffered on Sept. 20, 2015.

He was on a golf course and managed to crawl to the pro shop for help. He was gone a couple of times in the next few hours, but was brought back.

Carew carried a battery pack to operate a left ventricular assist device for over a year. The LAVD performed the function of a beating heart.

He received a new heart, as well as a kidney, in transplant surgery on Dec. 16, 2016. Those organs came from Konrad Reuland, 29, a former NFL tight end. He died four days earlier after suffering an aneurysm.

Carew and his wife Rhonda have developed a close relationship with Mary and Ralf Reuland, Konrad’s parents.

For 30 years after the end of his career, Carew appeared to be fewer than 10 pounds above his playing weight. The grand announcer, Harry Caray, once bellowed, “With a name like Rod Carew, you have to be able to hit,’’ and Rodney still looked like a guy who could do that until the heart attack.

The litheness of his movements and the magic bat are left to our memories now, but Rodney is again in spring training with the Twins, offering hitting tips and teaching bunting to anyone sent to him by the big-league staff.

“Who is there to work with, Rodney?’’ I asked. “Nobody bunts in this Bomba Era.’’

He smiled and said: “There are a few. Luis Arraez can pick up some hits bunting. And Buck [Byron Buxton] … he just has to get it on the ground. All the guys that can run, they like free hits.’’

There was a recent piece by Joe Posnanski where he had Carew rated at No. 57 on his list of the100 greatest baseball players. In that essay, Posnanski went back to 1979, when Ira Berkow’s autobiography, “Carew,’’ first revealed the frequent physical abuse Rodney had received from his father as he was growing up in Gatun, in the Panama Canal Zone.

Carew, now 74, has said: “There wasn’t a time in my life I wasn’t licked or punched or whipped, often for no reason whatsoever.… I think it’s one reason I was so reticent with the press, so cautious about opening up to others. When you’re young and under attack, you withdraw from family and friends. Shyness stays with you.”

I covered the Twins as a beat writer through Carew's last five seasons [1974-78] in Minnesota. For a time, his home in Golden Valley had the greatest entryway anywhere: a collection of silver bats on the wall. I also bought him an offseason breakfast at the Lincoln Del one winter and he sent back the omelette three times, to get the fluff just right.

Fussiest person ever  ... in clothes, for neatness around him. I was pals with his first wife Marilynn and she once told me: "Neat freak? He's beyond that.''

Last week in the Twins' clubhouse, I said to Rodney: “I just saw an old quote on the abuse from your father. I almost had forgotten that part of your life.’’

He winced slightly and said: “The press in Minnesota couldn’t figure out why I seemed so moody … I think my father had a lot to do it. As I’ve said, ‘He was always my father, but never someone to call ‘Dad.’

“I carried a suspicion of people outside my circle with me for a long time.’’

The mysteries and challenges and triumphs of Rod Carew – on the field but more so away from it – are soon to be relived in a second autobiography four decades after the first from the great Ira Berkow. More story to be told, but big writing chops to equal for Jaime Aron.

James, Morrell to fight for WBA belts on Armory boxing card April 11

The World Boxing Association now has three categories of world champions: super, world and interim. What that seems to mean is anyone winning an interim gets a belt declaring him to be a world champion, and the other beltholders can’t duck him for future bouts.

Thus, there will be two WBA interim titles on the line on April 11 at the Minneapolis Armory, when Jamal “Shango’’ James (26-1, 12 KOs) meets Thomas Dulorme (25-3-1, 16 KOs) for a welterweight belt, and David Morrell Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs) takes on Lenox Allen (22-0-1, 12 KOs) for a super middleweight title.

The bouts will be the headline events for a Premier Boxing Champions card on Fox.

“This is a big deal in the boxing world,’’ said Luis de Cubas, the head of Warrior Boxing and the manager for Morrell. “People have been waiting for Jamal to get a shot like this, and the whole boxing world is excited about David.’'

James had been looking for a chance to fight for a belt since April 13, 2018, when he helped bring boxing back to the restored Armory with a majority decision over veteran Abel Ramos.

Three more Armory victories followed: second-round knockout of Mahonri Montes (8-24-18); over Janer Gonzalez (2-13-19) when Gonzalez didn’t answer the bell for the seventh round; and a unanimous decision over rugged former champion Antonio DeMarco (7-13-19).

Now, James gets his biggest fight against Dulorme, a Puerto Rican and former world title challenger. Dulorme had a win over previously unbeaten Terrel Williams and a draw with former world champion Jessie Vargas in his last two bouts.

Dulorme had a previous title bout against the great Terrance Crawford in April 2015, and was stopped in the sixth round.

James’ first bout at the Armory vs. Ramos was less than impressive – a bit nervous, breaking in the restrored hometown venue, he admitted – but his last three performances were very good.

James offered this quote in the news release announcing the April fight: “I’m super hungry. I’ve been looking for my belt. It’s time for that belt. Shango needs to shine.’’

Morrell, 22, had more than 100 fights as a much-honored amateur in his native Cuba. He defected to Mexico and then signed with Warrior Boxing in the summer of 2019, after being given permission to fly to Miami.

He moved to Minneapolis last August and is living and training here. De Cubas’ promotional plan is to make him a local favorite, as the Armory continues to host and promote cards in conjunction with Premier Boxing Champions.

“The boxing fans around here are going to embrace this kid,’’ de Cubas said. “Look at it: David had one quick fight here in his pro debut last August, then his second fight was in the Washington, D.C. area in November.

“And he was so impressive that the WBA moved him from No. 15 to No. 3 in its rankings, and gave him this title shot. After two pro fights.’’