Rod Carew Jersey Day, 1977

“Rod Carew Jersey Day” on June 26, 1977 is one of the most noteworthy regular season games in Twins history. Carew himself set a team single-game record for runs scored that afternoon, while famously raising his batting average above .400. A seldom-remembered right fielder set the team single-game RBI record. And a young man who later became a prolific baseball history writer and Twins official scorer climbed the right-field foul pole!

On a sweltering summer afternoon, the only sellout crowd of the season packed Met Stadium for “Rod Carew Jersey Day,” and Rodney certainly rose to the occasion, going 4-for-5 with a home run, raising his average to .403 to the elation of the capacity, sun-soaked crowd. Carew also knocked in six runs and scored a team record five runs in the 19-12 win over the White Sox. Carew finished the season batting an incredible .388 and was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. 

Tim Teufel (9/16/83), Paul Molitor (4/24/96), and Luis Rivas (6/4/02) have since tied the team single-game runs scored record.

Since Major League Baseball came to Minnesota in 1961, the only player with a higher batting average than Carew’s .388 was Kansas City’s George Brett, who hit .390 in 1980 (in 179 fewer plate appearances than Rodney).

Right fielder Glenn Adams, meanwhile, set a team record with eight runs batted in. He had six RBI after just two innings, on a two-run double and grand slam. He went 4-for-5 altogether, adding an RBI single and sac fly. (Adams drove-in Carew three times in the game.)

Randy Bush tied Adams’ team record with eight RBI in Texas on May 20, 1989. Whereas Adams had six of his RBI in the first two innings, Bush collected six RBI in the final two innings, with three-run homers in the eighth and ninth.

With all the prolific sluggers in Twins history, pretty remarkable that the team single-game RBI record is shared by Glenn Adams and Randy Bush, huh? I find it particularly interesting that there have been 13 three-HR games in Twins history, but the most RBI in any of those games is six. 

The “Rod Carew Jersey Day” game is famous for another reason. Current Twins official scorer and award-winning baseball history writer Stew Thornley climbed the right-field foul pole!

Thornley has been a prolific writer, but two must-haves for Minnesota baseball fans are Baseball in Minnesota: The Definitive History, and Minnesotans in Baseball, edited by Thornley with biographical essays by members of the local Halsey Hall chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).

One final note on the Carew game: 1969 St. Paul Murray graduate Tom Johnson entered the game with one out in the top of the third and pitched the remainder of the game (6.2) innings to earn the win in relief. 

Johnson was stellar out of the bullpen throughout the 1977 season, earning 16 wins (all in relief) and 15 saves. Those 16 wins were ninth-most in the American League, and 15 saves were seventh-most. I wonder how many guys have finished top-10 in both wins and saves in the same season. His 71 appearances were second in the AL only to the Yankees’ Sparky Lyle. Johnson even received MVP votes.

’77 wound up being Johnson’s lone standout season, though. He struggled during 18 appearances in 1978, his final major league season. Perhaps he been too much of a workhorse the previous season . . .



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