Minnesota Twins Hall of Famer Rod Carew will throw the first pitch at Monday nights Twins game.
Carew is back in Minnesota for first time since he went through a heart transplant last December. He’s also inherited a kidney from the same donor, Konrad Reuland. Reuland is a former NFL tight end and longtime teammate of quarterback Mark Sanchez as the two played football and basketball together in high school and in the NFL with the New York Jets. Not only did Reuland go to school with Sanchez, he went to school with Carew’s daughter and son which is how he met Carew at age 11.
“It’s funny how things happen,” Carew said in a press conference at Target Field Monday. “I met him at a basketball game. I must have given him a good impression because that’s all he talked about when his mom picked him up. ‘Hey, I met Rod Carew today.’ All day that’s what he kept saying, ‘did you meet Rod Carew?’
“I guess what goes around comes back…after that, I haven’t seen that kid for a longtime,” Carew said.
Reuland passed away at age 29 last fall due to a brain aneurysm. As a organ donor, his organs have helped save the life of a childhood hero in Carew.
“He passed away so that I could live, but I carry him with me everyday inside so that he could help me go out and save some lives: talking to people about heart problems and also for the organ donations because we have so many people out there that are still waiting for organs,” Carew said.
Returning to Minnesota for the first time since surgery is nostalgic for Carew.
“Every time I comeback to the Twin Cities I feel like I’m coming back home because I was a kid when I started playing here,” Carew said. “A lot of people saw me grow up and do a lot of great things here with this organization. It’s always good to come home.”
The Hall of Famer is an 18-time All-Star in the big leagues who won the American League MVP in 1977, Rookie of the Year honor in 1967 and is a seven-time American League batting champion. With the transplant, Carew will be able to engage in physical activities like golf. Jokingly stating that adding Reuland’s youthful organs will have him pinch hitting for the Twins.
While he may not be adding to the Twins roster this season, tonight he will throw out the first pitch at the Twins game to his Hall of Fame Twins teammate Tony Oliva.
“Tony O. We were roommates for I don’t know, 10, 11 years. But he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever want to meet,” Carew said. “As a young player…he took me under his wing, we became friends. We became roommates.
“We use to try to film each other when we’re hitting from the dugout…and then we’d go back to the hotel, pull the sheets off the bed, hang them on a wall and put it on the white sheets and watch each other’s hits,” Carew said. “We talked about everything…he’s just an amazing person…he was a big brother to me, a dad, an uncle, everything. Taught me how to tie my first tie…all those little things that dad’s try to teach their sons, I learned from him.”
Tonight’s game will be nostalgic for Carew with his two former teams Twins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim competing against each other.
Carew was a Twin from 1967-1978 before finishing his career as an Angel from 1979-1985. Carew later went on to coach the Angels from 1992-1999.
By Gino Terrell