By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Rod Carew was back, thankful he’s here at all.

“It’s just been a unbelievable trip and my friend upstairs really took care of me,” Carew said.

He got a surprise when Tony Oliva gave him a bat from the 1968 All-Star Game they played in.

“Oh, it’s great. He’s looking so good. He’s looking like – every day looking better,” Oliva said.

Carew’s impact has included current players — people he offers informal counsel to.

“Honestly when we talk it really has nothing to do with baseball, that’s the kind of man he is. I pick his brain a lot about a lot of different things,” Brian Dozier said.

And his campaign for organ donors has had an impact.

“We have people around us at home that tell us that they are getting their hearts checked or got their hearts checked. He literally saved a former pitcher’s life,” Rod’s wife Rhonda said.

It’s been 40 years since Carew took Minnesota through that glorious summer, flirting with a .400 batting average and winning the MVP award.

“It’s one day playing out at the old Met stadium, against the White Sox, and getting six standing ovations over the course of a ballgame,” Carew said.

Today he’s able to tell those how precious these days are, stopping by the Twins batting cage.

And he’s able to appreciate what once was his playground — appreciate it with a new perspective.

“To understand how close I came to death, I now realize what God had given me. When he brought me into this world, he knew what he was doing,” Carew said.

Mike Max