“O.J. Simpson, not a Jew. But guess who is? Hall of Famer Rod Carew—he converted!”
So claimed Jewish historian Adam Sandler in his definitive 1994 song chronicling famous Jewish Americans, “The Chanukah Song.”
But is Rod Carew, who turns 69 today, in fact a Jew? The 18-time all-star second baseman for the Twins and Angels has long been the source of Semitic speculation ( a Google search for “Rod Carew Jew” yields 42,600 results, compared to the 23,700 results of searching “Sandy Koufax Jew”). But while the Chosen People came close to acquiring another MLB Hall of Famer, Carew never quite made it official. Despite the widespread rumors, Rod Carew is, it seems, ‘not a Jew.’
As Jon Wertheim wrote in March, “Carew never, in fact, converted—but he was married to a Jewish woman, raised his children Jewish, and wore a chai on a necklace as he won batting titles as a matter of ritual. Close enough.”
Carew himself put an end to the rumors in 2012, when a TMZ reporter asked him whether he was Jewish. Carew smiled and said, “No, I’m not. I was about to convert, but I never did.” As for the Sandler song that popularized the mistake, Carew said he was “honored” that Sandler, a friend, included him.
Zack Schrieber is an intern at Tablet Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @zschrieber.