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Monday, October 29, 2001
Craigs Corner 10/29/01 - 11/4/01
Friday, November 2nd, 2001
Hillcrest will get another home game and Underwood will make a long trip South next Saturday, as the two local 9-man football teams continue to play excellent football.

There's no question that the Pheasant Conference football teams are among the strongest in the state in 9-man football. It has been proven year after year with several prep bowl participants coming from the conference. This year, it could happen again. Both Hillcrest and Underwood were impressive in recording 22-14 wins over their opponents on Thursday in the Fargodome.

Hillcrest's win came over 2nd ranked Chokio-Alberta/Herman-Norcross and will most certainly make the high school football pollsters and so-called experts take notice of the Comets. I'm assuming they already took notice of the Rockets after their upset win at Verndale in the Section semifinals. Both coaches, Richard Risbrudt and Chuck Ross are to be commended for preparing their teams so well for this post season, and for their game plans heading into the section championship games. These two teams are doing what every team in every sport hopes to do every year ... play their best at playoff time.

Wouldn't it be fun to see these two conference and geographic rivals clash for a third time this season, in the state 9-man semifinals at the Metrodome? That's exactly what will happen if they can both survive their state quarterfinal games this Saturday.

Hillcrest will host either Sioux Valley-Round Lake-Brewster or Hills-Beaver Creek at 1:30 Saturday afternoon while Underwood will travel either to Leroy-Ostrander or Grand Meadow at the same time.

The two teams have played two exciting contests this season, with Underwood winning 25-21 on the first game ever played on their new home field, and 14-8 in overtime at Hillcrest. A third matchup would be a local football fan's delight, and a tremendous state semifinal confrontation.

Whatever happens from here on out is gravy for these teams and their fans. They have already accomplished much, and can be proud of where they have taken this season. Steady improvement has been seen in every area for both of these teams, and their opponents this week will have their hands full!

Congratulations guys and go get 'em on Saturday!!!!!!

Thursday, November 1st, 2001

Why? Why did Bob Brenly pull Curt Schilling after seven dominating innings on the mound in World Series game 4?

I am continually amazed at decisions made by major league baseball managers concerning their pitching staffs. Last night was unbelievable. Prior to the game beginning, the debate raged as to whether or not the Diamondbacks should pitch Schilling in Game 4 on 3 days rest. Brenly made what I feel was the right decision, to start Schilling and hope that his ace could put his team up 3 games to 1 in the series. Having put his cards on the table, everything was playing out perfectly for Arizona. Schilling was in command, holding the Yankees to three hits through seven innings while striking out nine batters. He had thrown only 84 pitches and was still overpowering Yankee hitters with a 94 mile per hour fastball in the bottom of the 7th. His team came up with a pair of runs in the eighth to give them a 3-1 lead and it looked good for the D'Backs.

Until Brenly failed to send Schilling out to the mound for the eighth and went to his bullpen. Now, Byung-Hyun Kim is a solid reliever, but he's no Curt Schilling. Plus, he's 22 years old and making his World Series debut, trying to preserve a third win for his team. After an impressive eighth inning, a broken-bat single by Paul O'Neill in the ninth started Kim's problems. Tino Martinez continued them with a first-pitch, two-run homer to tie the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Derek Jeter finished them with a two-out, 3-2 count, opposite field homerun in the tenth to win it and even the series at two games apiece. Hollywood couldn't have written a better script.

Game five is tonight at Yankee Stadium. If New York wins, which I believe they will, they will need to beat either Randy Johnson in game six or Schilling again in game seven, to win the Series. If the Yanks lose game five tonight, they would need to beat both of the Arizona pitchers. That is not likely, althoug with New York, you never say never.

One thing is certain, this Fall Classic has truly turned into a Classic.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2001

A big day in the Fargodome tomorrow for several area football teams, and some volleyball as a bonus on the local sports calendar.

The Underwood Rockets and Battle Lake Battlers fans will be busy. Both their football and volleyball teams play important playoff games. The Underwood football team, coached by Chuck Ross, will face Isle at 12:30 Thursday afternoon at the Fargodome in the Section 4-9 Man championship game. Chuck's wife, Diane Ross will lead her girls volleyball team into the Section 6A North Sub-Section title match at seven o'clock in Pelican Rapids. Underwood fans should be able to see both events, without any problem.

Battle Lake fans, however, will have to choose. The Otter Tail Central Bulldogs (Battle Lake & Henning), will tangle with Breckenridge for the Section 6-2A football championship beginning at 5:30 Thursday in the Fargodome. With the Battlers volleyball team playing at 7:00 p.m. in Pelican Rapids, there's no way fans will be able to see both games from start to finish. Now, fans who want to show visible support for both teams could watch the first half (or most of it) of the football game and then head to Pelican Rapids for the volleyball match.

Hillcrest plays the 3:00 p.m. game in the Fargodome against another strong Pheasant Conference opponent, Chokio-Alberta/Herman-Norcross. If the Comets win, they would host a state quarterfinal game next week.

The fourth game of the day in Fargo, to decide the Section 8-4A title, features Detroit Lakes against ROCORI. The game begins at eight p.m. It is a problem for Laker fans because their girls volleyball team plays Alexandria at seven o'clock in Fergus Falls for the North Sub-Section 8-3A championship.

Difficult decisions facing some of the fans, but decisions I'm sure the schools and their fans don't mind facing. It means their teams are still alive in the race for state playoff berths. Good Luck to all the area coaches and teams as they compete at this high level. The good news for area fans is that Lakes Radio, with their power of five stations, is covering the first three football games at the Fargodome and the volleyball match in Pelican Rapids. The first two 9-man playoff games will be aired on Oldies 1020 - KJJK AM and the 6-2A title game will be on KJ Country - 96.5 FM. The volleyball action will be broadcast on AM 1250 - KBRF.
Tuesday, October 30th, 2001

Former Detroit Lakes High School basketball player Jim Chivers is now playing for Division I school Loyola of Maryland.

The 6'8" 2000 graduate joins a Greyhound team that finished 6-23 a year ago and went 2-16 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The conference includes teams such as Iona, Siena, Manhattan, Canisius and Marist to name a few. Loyola returns two starters and five letter winners from last year's team.

Chivers spent last year playing as a post graduate player at perennial prep powerhouse St. Thomas Moore in Connecticut. He is the all-time leading scorer and rebounder at Detroit Lakes High School and was an honorable mention all-state performer his junior year.

"He gives us some depth at the forward position and is a very skilled offensive player," said his coach, Scott Hicks.

We'll try to keep you posted on his progress at the NCAA Division I level.

Monday, October 29th, 2001

Arizona was very impressive in the first two games of the World Series. Their starting pitchers did what they needed to do, and the Diamondbacks bats came alive, too!

Whatever has happened in the first two games of the World Series, don't count the Yankees out. They are a veteran club that knows how to win. How many of you wrote them off when the A's beat them in the first two games of the ALDS, at Yankee Stadium? They won't go down without a fight.

I went on record prior to the playoffs beginning, picking Arizona to beat New York in 7 games for the World Series Championship. I still think this series will go 7 games. For the Yankees to win, they will have to beat Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson a combined two times. The way the big two are pitching, I don't think it can be done. The Yankees have a good staff, but no dominant pitcher like those two. Clemens was at one time, but no longer. He's still capable of turning it up on any given night, and I believe he will do that on Tuesday in game 3, but he will not be the dominant type of pitcher that Schilling and Johnson have been this post season.

The Vikings are heading into their bye week off an embarrassing 41-14 loss to Tampa Bay. Granted, the Bucs needed a win badly, but they were reeling coming into this game. They had been struggling terribly, but looked like Super Bowl Champs against Minnesota. Where was the intensity and execution we saw last week against Green Bay? It was like another team was on the field in Tampa, and what is up with Cris Carter and all the sideline in-fighting on this team? They are not going to challenge for a playoff spot if they can't even get along as teammates. The Vikings need to upright the ship before they sink all the way to the bottom. Some soul-searching is in order over the next two weeks.
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, October 22, 2001
Craigs Corner 10/22/01 - 10/28/01
Friday, October 26th, 2001
Spartan basketball fans will want to mark down the date of December 7th, 2001. That's the night the Lady Spartans NJCAA Division III National Championship team will be honored with a ring ceremony.

Between the Ladies and the Mens games that evening against Rochester Community College, the Lady Spartans will receive their rings and a picture of the team, which will adorn the North wall of the gymnasium, will also be unveiled. Fans are encouraged to attend that special night at FFCC.

FFCC hitter Erica Pederson, has been named to the
MCCC Volleyball Northern Division All-Conference second team. Pederson is a freshman from Underwood High School and she led the Lady Spartans in kills and attack percentage.

The World Series begins on Saturday in Phoenix, Arizona. My pick is Arizona in 7 games. Schilling and Johnson will pitch five of the seven games (if the series does go seven) and the Yankees would have to beat them twice if they are going to win. I like the Diamondbacks, although they may be outscored for the series. That happened to the Yanks in 1960 when they lost to the Pirates in the 7th game on a homerun by Bill Mazeroski. The Yankees really dominated the series, outscoring Pittsburgh 55-27, but lost it in seven games. New York had 91 hits to the Pirates 60 and outhomered the Bucs 10-4.

I think it will be difficult for the Yankees to beat Schilling and Johnson twice in this series, which is what they are going to have to do to win it. Enjoy it, this should be a tremendous Fall Classic!!

Wednesday, October 24th, 2001
Gary Schuler, named the Section 8-3A Coach of the Year for last season, is the Minnesota finalist for the National Coach of the Year honor.

This has been quite a year for the Fergus Falls boys basketball coach. He will be inducted into the Minnesota State Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame on November 10th. The banquet and induction ceremony will take place from one to four p.m. at the Doubletree Park Place Hotel in Minneapolis. Anyone interested in attending the induction needs to purchase tickets in advance by Monday, October 29th, from Julie Nelson in the Activities Office at the Fergus Falls High School. The cost is $22 per ticket.

Incidentally, there is some confusion about tickets to the first round state tournament game for the Fergus Falls girls soccer team. There will be no advance ticket sales for that game. Tickets need to be purchased at the gate. The game is slated to start at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Maple Grove High School Football Field.

Monday, October 22nd, 2001
Time to get on my soapbox concerning high school playoffs and awards. First of all, congratulations to Jess Holicky of the Section 8 Champion Fergus Falls girls soccer team.

Jess, a senior defender, was chosen as an honorable mention member of the Class A State Girls Soccer Team. She is a deserving winner of that award. She has been a tremendous player over the past several years for Shelly Kangas and the Otters. This was a good choice by the selection committee. However, I cannot believe that Joanna Erlandson didn't make it. This is a goalkeeper who has recorded 26 shutouts in her past two seasons. Her team has kept the challenges to a minimum with tremendous defensive play in front of her, but whenever she has been challenged, including five or six excellent scoring opportunities for Sartell in the Section 8A Championship game, she has come up with big stops. CONSISTENTLY. The Otters are 14-2-2, have 14 shutouts (two 0-0 overtime thrillers), and have allowed only 7 goals. Her goals against average is phenomenal! Plus, she shutout all three playoff opponents. Not even an honorable mention? Come on! Like she has done to many forwards through her varsity career, Joanna was robbed! She makes my all-state team! A small consolation. These kids only get one or two chances at an honor like this and it's sad when someone so deserving is overlooked.

By the way, Kangas is coaching her final games as the head girls soccer coach at the state tournament. Shelly told her girls at the beginning of the season that this was going to be it for her, at least for the time being. With kids in the Middle School and becoming very active, she is going to be mom for awhile. She hasn't ruled out a return to coaching in the future, but not in the immediate future. She has done a great job with the program through the years and is going out in grand style with this state tournament appearance!!

Now, for the playoffs. Volleyball playoffs to be exact. The High School football playoffs are Tuesday and Saturday this week. Wouldn't it make sense to hold the volleyball playoffs on Thursday and/or Friday? Some sub-sections begin play Thursday and continue on Saturday. Others play Friday and then go to next week for the second round. I don't understand the sub-sections that have schedule Saturday games this week, clashing with the football games. It's too bad for the kids and the fans of the school teams. They have to make a choice. Do we follow the football team or the volleyball team? Plus, the players don't get to support their classmates. I don't think it would be too difficult to plan the playoffs in a way that would allow the fans and the students to participate in supporting both teams. Okay, I'm done belly-aching. Enjoy a great week of playoff action and be sure to check for all the results on www.craigolsonsports.com . Check our Lakes Radio broadcast schedule of games, too!
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, October 15, 2001
Craigs Corner 10/15/01 - 10/21/01
Thursday, October 18th, 2001
Kim Lindblom dropped a straight set decision to second seeded Laura Schaefer of St. Cloud Apollo in the Section 8AA singles tournament on Wednesday.

Lindblom, a sophomore, lost 6-0, 6-0 to the Apollo senior and finished her season with 19 wins and 6 losses. There's no doubt that the experience of competing against some of the best players in the state will be beneficial to Lindblom as she looks ahead to the next two years.

Sisters Anita and Alayna Follingstad were working at the Underwood volleyball tournament on Thursday and I had the chance to visit with them briefly. Alayna is at Moorhead State University and told me she really missed FFCC. Anita is student teaching in Crookston and coached eighth grade volleyball this fall. She is also going to coach 9th grade basketball for the Pirates.

Anita was flashing some jewelry, an engagement ring from Chris "Mad Dog" Heier. Wedding bells will ring in April and at latest count there will be 7 bridesmaids and 7 groomsmen (it's mandatory that all Follingstad girls are in the wedding party!). Congratulations to Anita and Chris, who met while attending FFCC.

Wednesday, October 17th, 2001
Underwood will host their 18th Annual UHS Volleyball Invite on Thursday in the Rockets new gymnasium. This MEA event is always competitive.

The tournament used to be played at FFCC, bringing area teams to the college for the day and showcasing the campus as well as playing some good competition. Since the new school offers such a great gymnasium setup, the Rockets elected to host the tournament at their school beginning last year.

The matches begin with pool play at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Here's a schedule of the matches:
9:30 - Rothsay vs Underwood / Barnesville vs Wheaton
10:15 - CGB vs Ulen-Hitterdal / KMS vs Frazee
11:00 - Underwood vs CGB / Barnesville vs KMS
11:45 - Ulen-Hitterdal vs Rothsay / Wheaton vs Frazee
12:30 - Underwood vs Ulen-Hitterdal / Frazee vs Barnesville
1:15 - CGB vs Rothsay / Wheaton vs KMS

The top two teams out of each pool move into the semifinals at two p.m. with the two winners clashing at three o'clock for the title.

Four nets will be used and the 'B' teams from each squad will compete at the designated varsity times.

Monday, October 15th, 2001
The Spartan football team needs only one win in their remaining two games to claim one of the two playoff spots in the Southern Division of the Minnesota Community College Conference.

Winning at Rochester Tuesday night is possible, but not probable. The Yellowjackets are undefeated in eight games and are the elite team in Minnesota Community College Conference football. FFCC is playing very well, having won four straight games after dropping their first three, but they will have to play a perfect game and get some breaks to hang in there with Rochester.

After their Tuesday contest, FFCC has only a home game on Saturday against Central Lakes remaining. If they win that game, they are in. The only team that can challenge them for the spot is Ridgewater. The Warriors have a bye on Tuesday and will play at Worthington against Minnesota West on Saturday, a game Ridgewater should have no trouble winning. Hope to see you at the Spartans final home game on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

In the Northern Division, Vermilion has a two point lead with two games to play within their division. Division wins are worth two points apiece. The Ironmen have 9 points, followed by Mesabi Range with 7. Those two teams close the season against each other in Virginia on Saturday. Northland and Rainy River are also still alive with 5 points apiece. The first week of the playoffs will see the regular season champs in each division facing the runners-up from the other division in the state semifinals.

The college hockey season started last weekend and two Fergus Falls High School graduates began their Division I careers with St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. Goalie Kevin Ackley started his first varsity game on Friday night, stopping 41 shots in a 3-2 loss at Michigan Tech. Forward Josh Anderson skated on the first line but didn't produce any points. Kevin's father, Mike, tells me that you can listen to the radio broadcasts of the games on the University's website. (http://web.stlawu.edu/sports/m_hockey/m_hockey.html)
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, October 8, 2001
Craigs Corner 10/08-10/14
Saturday, October 13th, 2001
Former Otter receiver Tim Erickson caught his first varsity touchdown pass at NDSU today. Erickson's TD covered 53 yards.

Former Underwood all-around athlete Jenny Gronner had 13 kills on Saturday in a Bison victory. She also had 7 kills and 6 blocks on Wednesday in a win over Augustana.

Several area high school athletes are now attending Minnesota State University Moorhead. The MSUM Assistant Sports Information Director, Hillcrest and FFCC graduate Tim Ellis, sends us this update.

In football, Scott Swanson from West Central Area High School, is now a senior and is a wide receiver on the Dragon football team. He is a three year starter for the Dragons.

Chad Davison, another West Central Area graduate, is MSUM's leading receiver. Davison is a sophomore who had a big game against UM-Duluth a week ago (6 catches for 90 yards).

Jake Sternhagen, former West Central Area High School athlete, is a runningback and special teams player and now a sophomore. He started in the backfield against UM-Crookston on September 29th and has close to 100 yards rushing this season.

Former Knight Josh Leegaard is a redshirt freshman wide receiver. Leegaard was the Defensive MVP for WCA and led the HOL in receiving yards ini 2000.

Former Otter Tail Central athlete Micah Tysver is currently a redshirt sophomore and a linebacker for MSUM.

His former teammate at OTC, Phil Risbrudt, an offensive tackle, is a redshirt freshman. Risbrudt was the Bulldogs MVP and Prairie North Conference MVP.

Another former Bulldog, quarterback Shawn Belmont is a redshirt freshman.

In volleyball, Amanda Heck, an outside hitter from Fergus Falls High School, is also a reshirt freshman.

Thanks to Tim for the update and we'll try to keep you posted on any news that comes our way regarding these student-athletes and their contributions to Dragon athletics. As I've stated before in this space, please share any information you have on former high school athletes now participating collegiately. We love to hear about them, and so do the visitors to the website.

Wednesday, October 11th, 2001
Lisa Nesbitt, Assistant Girls Soccer Coach at Fergus Falls High School, has been named the Section 8A Girls Assistant Soccer Coach of the Year. She has been Shelly Kangas' assistant for three years. Her name will now be entered into the State Assistant Girls Soccer Coach of the Year competition. Congratulations Lisa!

The Fergus Falls Backcourt Club will hold registration for Saturday morning basketball this Saturday from 9:00am to 11:00am at the Fergus Falls Senior High Gym. All boys and girls grades three through eight who live within the boundaries of ISD #544 or attend any school in Fergus Falls may participate. There is a $35.00 per particpant fee, with a maximum of $70.00 per family. Included in the cost is a new pair of basketball shorts and one adult Backcourt Club membership. Sessions will be every Saturday starting October 27th and continuing through January 26th. Registration forms will be in the schools this week and forms will also be available at the High School Gym on Saturday.

Monday, October 8th, 2001
Just a reminder and a suggestion for you as you browse through my site, please visit some of the sponsors on the way to your favorite pages! Without them, I couldn't do this!!!!! They are so important!!

Whether it's radio, newspaper, television or websites, sponsors are the bread and butter. You, as viewers of the information on my website, don't pay any fees to access my pages. That's great!!! This is a fully sponsor paid site. I feel extremely fortunate to have several outstanding advertisers, the majority of whom have been with me since I started this venture in September of 1999!! I appreciate them more than I could ever tell them, and it is my hope that you will pay them a visit in person and also click on their logos that appear on the various pages of my site, and visit their websites. There are some very interesting sites out there and a lot of great information from all of our sponsors. If they have an e-mail address listed, drop them an e-mail and let them know you visit my site and that you appreciate their involvement. Without it, I wouldn't be able to commit the time it takes to keep this site current. Over the next several months, the time commitment is huge. I will do my best to keep everything as current as possible. I rely heavily on the coaches and if you as fans have information that might be of interest to other fans, please share it with me so I can share it with them!!

The number of visitors to my site continues to grow. In fact, there are more than fifty additional unique visitors daily from this time a year ago. Keep hitting my site and please spread the word to others about the information we have available. The one thing people tell me time after time is this, "I can't believe all the information you have on your site!" Frankly, I can't either!!! Thanks so much for your consistent viewing, and please do visit some of the sponsors and let them know you're out there!

If you are a business owner and would like more information about how you can become an advertiser, please send me an e-mail at [email protected]
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, October 1, 2001
Craigs Corner 10/01/01 - 10/07/01
Thursday, October 4th, 2001
Ian McVey, 6'9 1/2" post player for FFCC, has verbally committed to attend Utah State University in Logan, Utah. McVey made his decision following a weekend visit to the Division I school.

McVey told www.craigolsonsports.com that he was very impressed with the coaches and the school. He had made a prior visit to Pacific University in California. McVey was at the top of the Aggies recruiting list and will follow his verbal commitment by signing a national letter of intent in November when the early signing date arrives.

McVey had contacts from over 20 Division I schools including the University of Minnesota, but Utah State showed the most interest in pursuing him, by offering him a scholarship as an early signee.

As a freshman at FFCC last season, Ian averaged 12.7 points per game, shooting 56.7% from the field and 75.6% from the free throw line. He also averaged 8.1 rebounds per game while playing a average of 24 minutes per contest.

Utah State finished last season with a record of 28-6, beating Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2001
A Fergus Falls sports Hall of Famer passed away last week. Jack Halland was inducted as a charter member of the Fergus Falls Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.

Halland was a 1957 FFHS graduate and was best known for his football and track abilities, although he lettered in basketball and golf as well.

In the fall of 1956, his senior year, Halland was a halfback when the Otters were undefeated. He played in the 1957 North/South Minnesota high school all-star game, scoring the North's only touchdown in a 6-6 tie.

In track, Jack was first at the state meet in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes.

Halland played football on a scholarship for two years at the University of Florida in Gainesville and completed his college football career at the University of Arizona in Tucson as an offensive and defensive back, graduating in 1962 with a business degree. His fellow 1957 classmate, Chuck Weiss, also played at a Division I school, as a fullback at the University of Colorado.

Jack became a successful real estate broker and investor in Arizona.

The thing I will always remember about Jack was when he pulled out a yellowed piece of paper during his induction speech in 1986 and read a portion of a letter he had carried around since his high school graduation. It was a letter encouraging Jack to believe in himself and use his gifts to further himself in life, from a man who had a lot of confidence in him and obviously a lot of influence in his life as a high school student. That man, is also a charter member of the FFHS Sports Hall of Fame, Oats Legrand.

Halland will be remembered as one of the outstanding athletes in the history of Fergus Falls High School.

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2001
Trek Schuler is continuing to live a dream. The son of Fergus Falls boys basketball coach Gary Schuler and a former certified athletic trainer in Fergus Falls, is in the Baltimore Orioles system as a trainer.

Trek is in Sarasota, Florida where his team is participating in the instructional league. They will play a 30 game schedule against teams from the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds organizations. Trek related to us that he saw top draft pick Joe Mauer play and that he looks like he'll be a good one.

Schuler was supposed to go to Bluefield, West Virginia for the high rookie, Appalachian League season in mid-June, but the Orioles trainer at Delmarva, a low Class A team in the South Atlantic League, resigned at the end of May. Trek reported to Delmarva, located in Salisbury, Maryland, on Memorial Day weekend and spent the rest of the summer there. "It was great," said Schuler. "We played in front of crowds of 10,000 in some places. Delmarva averaged about 4,00 a night and we ended the season at 61-79."

Trek saw some nice cities and nice stadiums during the summer. Chances are he will be back in Delmarva next season although nothing is final yet. One thing is certain, he will be indtroducing his dad at the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Banquet on November 10th in Minneapolis. The banquet will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Double Tree Park Place Hotel.

Monday, October 1st, 2001
It's Rod Carew's 56th birthday today. Since he was my baseball hero, it is mandatory that I use this space to wish him a Happy Birthday! Thanks for the memories, Rod. 3,053 career hits and a .328 lifetime batting average for the first ballot hall-of-famer.

Carew still holds several Twins records including the season records for batting average (.388 in 1977, his MVP year), hits (239, also 1977), bunt hits (29) and singles (180), both in 1974, and one you might now expect him to lead in, grand slams (3). He is tied with Bob Allison, Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek in that category. Carew also holds the Twins career batting average record of .334.

While a member of the Twins, Carew won 7 A.L. batting titles, hit over .300 in 15 consecutive seasons, won the 1977 A.L. MVP Award, was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1991, had his number retired in 1987 and joined the Twins Hall-of-Fame as a charter member in 2000. He is one of only 24 players in the history of the game to achieve 3,000 or more career hits and is 18th all time on that list. Carew was also the Rookie of the Year in the American League in 1967.

I had the opportunity to interview Rod on Easter Sunday in 1982 when he was playing for the Angels and was at the Big A in Anaheim when he got his 3,000th career hit off Frank Viola and the Twins on August 4th, 1985. Thanks to the thoughtful generosity of many local sports fans, my wife and I were able to be present at his induction into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

It was fun to have a baseball hero and to follow his career so closely. Carew's youngest of three daughters, Michelle, lost a battle with leukemia a few years ago. It reminded me that even our heroes are very human. Sometimes we tend to elevate them to another level and forget that they have ups and downs in their lives just as we do. Rod Carew was one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, the numbers speak for themselves. More than that though, he is a family man who worked hard at a game he loved and despite his humble beginnings (he was born on a train in Panama), reached some lofty goals. He will always have a place in Twins and Baseball history, and in my heart! I love baseball and Rod Carew is one of the reasons I do.
Posted By Craig Olson
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