What Rod Carew taught me about autographs

ROD CAREW! I remember that face, and that look. By Tito Herrera (Untitled) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
ROD CAREW! I remember that face, and that look. By Tito Herrera (Untitled) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

I remember seeing Rod Carew alone in the Kansas City hotel lobby.

I had just started a sheet of Hall of Fame autographs, with a nifty HOF sticker in the middle.

The still-active Twin remained expressionless when I asked him for an autograph.

He looked at the sheet. I could see him eyeing the first signatures: Carl Hubbell, Stan Musial, Duke Snider. 

Carew shook his head. “I’m not in the Hall of Fame,” he said.

Summoning all my junior high student courage possible, I replied: “Not yet. You will be.”

He stared me in the eye, then smiled. He signed.

Ever since, in every letter, I’ve shared why I’m choosing that person. What makes them unique?

Believe in them. Maybe, they’ll return the favor.

Eric Soderholm Honors Three Twins Legends

No signature change
in 35 years!

Eric Soderholm lived two lives. He’s known to many as a gritty Minnesota Twins third baseman. Others remember the reborn slugger who found his career comeback as one of the Chicago White Sox “South Side Hit Men” in 1977.

I saw him play in Minnesota, providing the foundation for two questions.
First, I asked what it was like to play in the company of three stars — Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Rod Carew. Soderholm replied:

“Killebrew, Carew and Oliva were world class, on and off field. Learned from their determination.”

I shivered when I thought about seeing Soderholm play at Metropolitan Stadium. In fact, every Twins game there left me with a BRRR! My folks loved the easy access to the ballpark from Iowa. Other teams played in CITIES. The Twins played…nearby.

“The Met was a nice park for right-handed hitters — but COLD!”

A knee injury shelved Soderholm for all of 1976. When The Sporting News named him American League Comeback Player of the Year, I wondered how he felt about the title.

“Comeback Player of Year was a great honor — and appreciated after I worked so hard on my knee.

Best wishes,
Eric Soderholm”

A well-done profile of Soderholm, written by Mark Liptak, can be found at one of my favorite websites, Baseball Almanac.

Tomorrow: An inside peek at the “Baseball By The Letters” mailbox.

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