MARCH 25, 2016
T he C oast News
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Running to the very last mile By Promise Yee
Retired Major League Baseball legend Rod Carew has a message: “Tell your friends to get their ticker checked out.” Carew received life saving care after suffering a heart attack, from doctors at Scripps Health. Photo by Jay Paris
A grateful Carew shows his heart by helping others sports talk jay paris
his fallen Angel looked for another. Luc k i ly, Rod Carew spotted one. “It was amazing,’’ said Carew, the Hall of Fame first baseman who played for the then-California Angels and Minnesota Twins. “One of the paramedics had this bright light around him and he was the only one. He was my guardian angel and the last person I remember seeing, with him saying, ‘We’re losing him.’’’ Carew received a reprieve after suffering a massive heart attack. That day on Sept. 20, which had him hitting golf balls, was almost his last. “I was near death and they brought me back to life,’’ Carew, 70, said. “It’s been unbelievable.’’ The same goes for the work done by Scripps Health. Carew’s six-hour heart surgery was performed at the Prebys Cardiovascular Institute in La Jolla. That preceded a nearly monthlong stay at the Inpatient Rehabilitation Program at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas. “Those people in Encinitas, they really pushed me,’’ Carew said, with a warm smile. “That was a big part of the entire process. I had to learn how to walk again, and really, learn how to do everything again.’’ Carew was in North County on Tuesday, saluting those medical miracle workers that have him up and about. The sweet-swinging first baseman with seven American League batting titles and 3,053 hits was tipping his cap to those he’ll never forget. “He had what we call the ‘widow maker,’’’ said Dr. Ajar Srivastava, who was among those treating Carew. “There was no blood flow to his heart.’’ Carew received three stents to his left anterior descending coronary artery. But he continued to strug-
gle with his heart function severely depressed. He was referred to the Scripps Advanced Heart Failure and Mechanical Circulatory Support team and a decision was quickly reached. Carew was fitted with a left ventricular assist device, a battery-powered pump that is placed in the heart during surgery to facilitate blood flow. Carew’s device is connected to a lightweight battery pack that he wears in a vest. “These are brilliant people,’’ Carew said. Although Srivastava wasn’t so smart to know of Carew’s amazing background. In Srivastava’s native India, the sport requiring a bat is cricket. “But I know where I come from if anyone was an 18-time All-Star, we would build him a temple and worship him,’’ Srivastava said. He was interrupted by Carew’s cough, which Srivastava quickly discounted. “His heart is fine,’’ he said. “That is a Florida cough.’’ As usual, Srivastava was right. But it was a cough that was a positive sign of Carew’s progress. He just returned from two weeks at the Twins’ spring training complex in Ft. Myers, Fla. Carew was back on the field, and considering it was less than a year ago he was on his back at the golf course clubhouse, that’s as amazing as his stellar Major League career. “God gave me another chance,’’ a grateful Carew said. “He didn’t think I had done enough work on earth yet.’’ So that man who was idolized by late Padres great Tony Gwynn is swinging again. He’s hitting everyone with a consistent message: have your heart evaluated. Carew has already prevented someone from suffering what he did. Former Angels pitcher Clyde Wright heard Carew’s mantra. “He saved my life,’’ Wright said. Wright didn’t know it, but his heart was under severe duress. If not seeking the attention that led to a TURN TO JAY PARIS ON A22
ENCINITAS — The annual Encinitas Mile drew elite runners, novices, kids and dogs to the starting line on Vulcan Avenue March 20. Race heats in the USATF-certified run alternated between open and elite divisions. The kids division started the race day. The closing race was the beloved dog mile. In between elite men and women runners clocked in times of five minutes and under. The race drew promising Olympic contenders and former world record holders. Former U.S. and world mile record holder Steve Scott said it’s very unique to have a mile race as a stand alone event. “It’s usually part of a track meet,” Scott said. “A road race is usually a 5 or 10k, or marathon.” Most racers saw the short, intense race as a fun alternative, and good training for longer distances. Elizabeth Staker, of Sugarloaf, California, came in first in the women’s elite division at 4 minutes, 43 seconds. Dusty Solis, of Rancho Cucamonga, placed first in the men’s elite at 4 minutes, 12 seconds. Solis said during the race he heard fellow runners “chomping at the bit.” That fueled him to push himself to win. His advice to runners who are starting out is to keep at it. The dog mile was filled with owners and their shepherds, retrievers, and bichon frises. Thomas Whitcomb, of Escondido, and his dog took first at 4 minutes, and 53 seconds. After the finish Whitcomb described his dog as a solo runner, and said the winning dog would be spending the rest of the day chasing squirrels and rabbits. The race offers a
Runners in the women’s elite division take off. The racecourse is along scenic Vulcan Avenue. Photos by
Dusty Solis, of Rancho Cucamonga, finishes first in the men’s elite division. The USATF-certified race draws top athletes.
$2,000 total prize purse, and donates all proceeds to charities. The dog mile challenges animal advocacy groups to a fundraising competition in which the nonprofit with the most participants is awarded the most money. This is the race’s third
year. Many of the runners have participated since the inaugural race. “There aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to run the mile,” Mark Sarno,
co-founder and race director, said. The race continues to grow with 350 competing last year, and an estimated 450 this year.
P H O T O G R A P H Y
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