Jews & Sports

from Big Mo's Sports Desk

Carew a Jew?

Rod Carew is one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. He won seven batting titles, including in 1977 when his .388 average was the highest in baseball since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. He won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1967 and was an All-Star for 18 consecutive seasons. In 1977, Carew was the American League Most Valuable Player. Not surprisingly, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.

Carew's birth on Oct. 1, 1945 also set records of sort. His mother, a native of Panama and very pregnant, was a passenger on a train moving in the Panama Canal Zone when she unexpently went into labor. Dr. Rodney Cline, a passenger in the "whites only" cabin, came to the rear of the train and heroically delivered the baby. In appreciation, the mother named her baby Rodney Cline Carew. Rod Carew remains to this day the only major leaguer born on a train and the only one named after a Jewish doctor.

Some considered Carew a Jewish folk hero when he married a traditional Jewish white woman. Rumors abounded that Carew himself converted, and secretly practiced some mitzvahs, including wearing a yarmulka under his baseball hat. These rumors were no doubt multiplied when Carew appeared on the cover of Time Magazine (July 18, 1977) with a chai around his neck.
Despite the rumors, Carew has never undergone a formal conversion nor publicly identified himself as Jewish. However, he did not play on Yom Kippur, and raised his children as Jews, and it is assumed that as such he partakes in some Jewish activities such as lighting Chanukah candles or organizing Passover seders with his family.


[Adapted with permission from:]


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