Baseball hadn't seen a contact hitter of the quality of Rod Carew in decades and he would become the most dominant American League hitter of the 1970s. His success at the plate translated into baseball card interest, making him one of the most popular of his day and this list highlights the best Rod Carew cards from his storied career.
An amazing contact hitter, Carew controlled the American League batting races in a way not seen since Ty Cobb. He and Cobb are the only players to win more than three consecutive batting titles and Carew ended up winning seven batting titles overall. His best season was in 1977 when he batted .388 and won the MVP award with the Minnesota Twins.
Rod Carew was traded to the California Angels in 1979 after refusing to re-sign with the Twins. He became the face of that franchise and led them to their first-ever playoff appearances in 1979 and 1982. After retiring in 1985, Carew became one of the few players to have their number (#29) retired by two different teams.
Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991, both Bowman and Donruss created special cards for the honor bestowed on Carew. The first five cards in the 1991 Bowman sets were assigned to him and celebrated different phases of his career. Donruss picked Carew as the subject of their Diamond Kings puzzle in the 1991 set and Angels fans can also find Carew as a Diamond King in 1982 Donruss.
Another Donruss set with some great Rod Carew cards is 2005 Donruss Studio Portraits, which offers an opportunity to collect a rainbow of parallels for his base card. Another set that lets you build multiple colors of his cards is the 2005 Topps Rookie Cup set, which is fitting as Carew is one of the most famous recipients of the Rookie Cup award. Rod Carew has also been featured in many contemporary sets and you can find mini cards in 2015 and 2014 Topps Gypsy Queen and 2014 and 2013 Topps Allen and Ginter.
Rod Carew's baseball card appearances stretch from the mid-1960s to the junk wax era in the mid-1980s. Because of this, his card values varied greatly over the course of the career. In constructing this list, value is a key consideration as well as card collectibility and other factors such as design and scarcity.
Top 10 Rod Carew Baseball Cards
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The 3-D sets issued by Kellogg's debuted in 1970 and the process used to create the three-dimensional effect on the cards resulted in curling for many examples over time. This led to a tiny population of cards in fantastic condition and many in fair condition, ultimately offering an early Carew card that nearly anyone can afford.
Rod Carew awaits the throw to first on his 1977 Topps card. While he began his career as a second baseman, Carew moved to first base later in his career. In 2012 Topps Archives, you can find a differently card using the 1977 Topps design as a cloth sticker.
Looking at his 1976 Topps card, I imagine Carew is leading from the bench and giving a teammate a hitting lesson with a huge chaw of tobacco in his cheek. Along with this card, he also has a batting leaders card that he shares with Thurman Munson and Fred Lynn in this set.
Carew nearly brings his bat barrel into contact with the camera on his 1975 Topps card, making it one of the most memorable shots in the colorful set. Collectors can also find an identical, but smaller, mini version of the card for just a little bit more than the regular base card price.
Rod Carew was featured on one of the In Action cards in 1972 Topps set as he surveys the infield at second base. Although he was a legend at hitting a baseball, he was rarely able to hit that baseball out of the park. In 1972, Carew led the American league in batting with a .318 average but hit zero home runs. It was the first time since 1918 that the exact same thing had occurred.
Along with Carew's intimidating 1970 Topps base card, collectors can also find a Sporting News All-Star card and an American League Batting Leaders card which features his Minnesota Twins teammate Tony Oliva.
The black borders of the 1971 Topps set makes for easy chipping along the sides and mint versions of these cards are very hard to find. Holding his bat on the card, it is interesting to note that although Carew threw right-handed, he would swing from the left side.
Fans of both the Twins and Angels can find a wide variety of Rod Carew autographs in many recent sets. Twins' fans can look at 2014 Topps Five Star for some great on-card Carew autograph. In one of the most memorable autographs sets, 2001 Topps Golden Anniversary, collectors can find a nice on-card autograph featuring an Angels uniform.
Along with his All-Star Rookie Cup 1968 Topps card, there is also an All-Star card honoring Carew's first selection to the team. He would make the All-Star team 18 times in total, which represents every season of his career except the last one. The same photo shown on the base Carew card was used the following year in the 1969 Topps set.
Rod Carew shares his 1967 Topps rookie card with Hank Allen who was the brother of the great home run-hitter Dick Allen. The card, found in the set's high-number series, seems to actually have been printed in a quantity that is nearly double the other short-printed cards in that series. It is certainly the most sought-after Rod Carew card and highly-graded copies can reach several thousands of dollars at auction.