Home to him is also the American League, and for this reason he said he never seriously contemplated accepting the trade Griffith had agreed upon with the Giants. In fact, he said, he repeatedly rejected it. Still Griffith persisted. Carew did accept Giants owner Bob Lurie's invitation to visit San Francisco and meet the players, and he said he was duly impressed.
"I like San Francisco, and the guys on the team had a positive attitude, but deep down inside I knew I wanted to stay in the American League," he said. "It's like a second home to me. I've been in it for 12 years. To switch leagues after all that time would have been a hard thing for me to do. What amazes me is why the American League would want to lose me. After hearing so much talk about how the National League has all the good players, why would they want to let one of their better ones go over there?"
Carew's difficulties with Griffith began in earnest three years ago, he said, when he encountered resistance negotiating his first long-term (three-year) contract. When he sought last spring to extend that agreement for another five years, he ran into more trouble. The Twins countered his proposal with a three-year offer. And so it went, until an exasperated Carew finally proclaimed, "Calvin, if you can't afford me, trade me."
He said he played much of the last half of the 78 season in a sort of mental fog (which didn't prevent him from winning the batting title at .333). His visits to hypnotist Harvey Misel, whom he started seeing "for relaxation" in 1976, increased.
He was not physically fit either, for in early July his right arm mysteriously went numb. "With all that, I could've said, 'Why play?' But when you play for a man like Gene Mauch, you don't want to do that. So I played. Then came the famous speech."
The oration at issue was delivered by Griffith on Sept. 28 before the Lions Club of Waseca, Minn. During the course of it, he reportedly commended the Minneapolis area for having so few blacks and suggested that Carew was foolish to play there for the peanuts Griffith could afford to pay him.
Carew is both intelligent and proud, and he was stung by these thoughtless remarks. "I don't want to be a nigger on that man's plantation," he snarled at the time. Much of the bitterness has subsided, but from Waseca on, Carew knew "there was no possibility of my coming back to the Twins. I have no regrets. I enjoyed playing there. The people saw me come in as a pampered, stubborn, temperamental kid. They saw me leave as a mature person."
Carew's marvelous career may well end in Anaheim; he says he will retire at the conclusion of his five-year contract if, in his opinion, his skills have eroded. "I'd like to get 3,000 hits [he has 2,085], but if I don't make it in the next five years, I won't hang around chasing after them. I know everybody says it, but I'd like to finish on top. Right now, I just want to go out there and have fun, let baseball be the little boys' game it's supposed to be. I enjoy playing. I get the feeling that no one can do the things I can, that I can get a hit anytime I want. It's a good feeling."
Carew has done nothing but spread good feeling in Palm Springs. Besides polishing his own skills, he has worked unselfishly with younger players—in fact, he has had some of them out running with him at 5:30 a.m. And he quickly established that, huge salary aside, he is no snob. "On the first day of camp, I helped a young player with his luggage. I think he was impressed."
In Palm Springs they call that noblesse oblige.