A younger Twin Cities sportswriter came to me with an inquiry early in 2015, in my role as the unchallenged sage of Twins baseball. It concerned the greatest regular-season games in team history.
I always point to June 26, 1977: Twins 19, White Sox 12, with a crowd of 46,463, a regular-season record for Met Stadium and drawn by Rod Carew’s charge toward .400.
Inspired by this conversation, I tracked down Twins President Dave St. Peter and made this pronouncement:
“Forget another anniversary for the ’87 champs in 2017. Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sir Rodney’s fabulous 1977, on or around June 26.’’
Rodney was the hero of St. Peter’s youth as a Twins fan, and he probably didn’t need this encouragement. And now there’s a greater reason for a Carew celebration this summer.
Carew had a massive heart attack on Sept. 20, 2015, 11 days before his 70th birthday. The paramedics saved his life — and in another miracle of modern medicine, Carew received a new heart and kidney in a 13-hour surgery that ended on Friday.
It was termed “successful,’’ and we will pray for the best, and hope that 40 years later Sir Rodney can thrill us again in early summer at a Twins outdoor ballpark.
Carew was batting .365 entering the month of June in ’77. By the morning of the 26th, he was at .396, and in warm sun, the Carew worshipers headed to Met Stadium to see a slugfest for the ages.
Carew doubled in the first inning and had a two-run single in the second. When the message board in right center revealed Carew was at .400, the crowd gave him a third standing ovation in less than an hour.
He went 4-for-5, drove in six runs and finished the day at .403. Glenn Adams had a Twins record with eight RBI — and was a footnote.
The 2017 Twins aren’t home from June 23 to July 2 but return on July 3 to play the Angels, Carew’s other team. I feel a holiday Carew lovefest coming on July 3-4, with big fireworks on the 3rd.
Rodney Cline Carew in 1977, his MVP season:
• Batted .486 in June — 54-for-111 in 28 games. The 54 hits included eight triples.
• Won the sixth of seven batting titles at a career-best .388. All batting titles came in 12 seasons (1967-78) in Minnesota.
• Also career highs in hits (239), 2B (38), 3B (16), HR (14), RBI (100), runs (128) and on-base (. 449). Very high OPS, too, but I ignore those.
Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.