Angels are characters associated with religion, even though the cherubic angels we associate with the term are not actually found in the Bible. This post is about the Angel known as Rod Carew, whose name was introduced in a theological discussion.
I am not a religious man but I am fascinated by the topic. Perhaps my non belief and my skepticism makes me curious to why people believe.
When I was a student at New York University in the 1990’s, I took a class called “Judaism, Christianity and Islam.” In that course, I learned about how the three Abrahamic faiths were intertwined and yet separate.
The teacher was named Francis Edward Peters, or F. E. Peters as he is published. He is the Professor Emeritus of History at NYU and without a doubt one of the most fascinating teachers I ever had.
In his lectures, he would carefully and logically lay out the connections between the faiths. There were Muslim, Jews and Christians in the class, as well as people like me fulfilling their electives. Many of the Muslims and Jews would argue while the Christians would sit silently and lapsed Catholics like myself would shake our heads.
Every once in a while, Professor Peters would throw in a sports reference. It was 1992 when I took his class, so when he thought of an example of a modern miracle that would confirm God, he mentioned “if the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, that would suffice.”
He would get his divine confirmation 2 years later.
At one point, Professor Peters was trying to explain the difference between a Muslim and a Christian saint.
He explained that a Muslim saint was picked as a consensus great person. There was no voting process. Everyone simply agreed on their greatness. “Babe Ruth would be a Muslim Saint” he said.
Christian saints can be voted upon and debated. “Rod Carew would be a Christian saint.”
The orthodox Jews and devout Muslims and Born Again Christians started flipping through their books, trying to figure out which branch of the Abrahamic tree did Rod Carew reside.
I actually laughed out loud, loving the analogy and seeing how few got it.
Rodney Cline Carew was a great hitter and someone whose consistency got him into the Hall of Fame.
Born in Panama, Carew’s family moved to New York and was discovered by a scout playing semi pro ball in the Bronx. He signed with Minnesota and served in the Marine Corps reserve as an engineer. He shot up through the Twins farm system and was named Rookie of the Year in 1967. He made the All Star team that year. He also did in 1968.
Rod Carew was an All Star every single season between 1967 and 1984. Seven times he was the AL Batting Champion, including 6 out of 7 seasons.
In 1977, he led the AL in runs, hits, triples, batting average, on base percentage, OPS and OPS plus. The 31 year old Carew took home the MVP that season, batting .388 along the way.
But also objected to the racist owner of the Twins and informed the team that he would test free agency when he got the chance. After having the highest average and on base percentage again in 1978, he was shipped off to California where he became an Angel.
He continued to hit for a sky high average, but even the switch from second to first couldn’t prevent age and injuries cutting down his plate appearances. He helped the Angels to the 1979 and 1982 ALCS but he never did play in the World Series. (He fell short with the Twins in the 1969 and 1970 ALCS as well.)
After collecting hit 3,000, Carew was a free agent after the 1985 season. He got no offers, a victim of collusion and his career was over. He did indeed make it to the Hall of Fame (baseball sainthood) and has his number retired in both Minnesota and with the Angels.
Carew’s own religion was confusing for a while. His first wife was Jewish and Carew wore a Chai necklace, making some think he converted. He never did, but was showing respect to his wife’s faith.
He is a devout Christian and lives with his new wife, recently recovering from a heart transplant.
An Angel on the field, he is an all time great hitter and one who deserves the baseball canonization in Cooperstown. I hope Professor Peter continued using that analogy. It was apt.