NFL

Former NFL TE Konrad Reuland Met Rod Carew as a Kid and Later Wound Up Saving His Life

When Konrad Reuland was young, he met MLB Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew at a middle school basketball game. Reuland’s brother Warren and Carew’s son Devon were teammates, and Konrad was excited to have met the former Minnesota Twins and California Angels star. Little did Carew know that years down the road that Konrad, who would go on to play in the National Football League, would eventually save his life.

Rod Carew’s Hall-of-Fame career

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Rod Carew was a hitting machine in the big leagues. He made his Major League debut April 11, 1967, with the Minnesota Twins against the Baltimore Orioles and got two of the 3,053 hits he accumulated over his 19-year career.

Rod Carew was a hitting machine in the big leagues. He made his Major League debut April 11, 1967, with the Minnesota Twins against the Baltimore Orioles and got two of the 3,053 hits he accumulated over his 19-year career.

Carew was named the American League’s Rookie of the Year in 1967 and spent the first 12 years of his career in Minnesota. Carew had his best season in 1977 when he led the league with a .388 batting average. He also finished first in hits (239), runs scored (128), on-base percentage (.449), and triples (16). He was named the league’s MVP that season. During his big-league career, Carew finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting six times.

Carew finished his career with a .328 batting average and a .393 on-base percentage. He is a seven-time batting champion and was an MLB All-Star for 18 seasons, making it every year except his final season. Carew was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.

Who was Konrad Reuland?

Konrad Reuland was a 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end who enrolled at Notre Dame to play football, but transferred to Stanford. He had to sit out the 2008 season because of the transfer but played for the Cardinal in 2019. In his two seasons at Stanford, Reuland caught 27 passes for 349 yards.

Reuland’s size and blocking ability caught the eyes of several NFL teams and he eventually signed as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. The New York Jets signed Reuland off the 49ers practice squad in 2012 and he caught 11 passes or 83 yards that season. Reuland bounced around the league before ending his career by appearing in four games with the Baltimore Ravens in 2015.

On Nov. 28, 2016, Reuland suffered a brain aneurysm at the age of 29. He underwent surgery the next day and was in a coma for two weeks. He died on Dec. 12. “Something in me, I don’t know why, but maybe it’s a mother’s instinct . . . I just laid my right ear on his chest and listened to his heart beating all day, from morning until we had to leave,” Reuland’s mother Mary told the LA Times. “I memorized it. And I said, ‘I hope I get to hear this again one day.’”

Reuland helps save Carew’s life

In 2015, Rod Carew suffered a massive heart attack while playing golf. It was determined he would eventually need a heart transplant. In 2016, four days after the death of Konrad Reuland, Carew had his heart transplant. The donor? Konrad Reuland. Carew also got one of Reuland’s kidneys.

Less than three months after the procedure, Carew visited the Reuland family, and Konrad’s mother, Mary, listened to Carew’s heart. “It was comforting in a way to hear that again, knowing that part of Konrad is still here,” Mary said in the LA Times. “I didn’t know until this happened that every heartbeat, like a fingerprint, is unique. It was definitely Konrad’s heart in there.”

Mary Reuland considers the Carews part of the family now. “I told them when they came here, and I strongly believe this, that they are now a part of our family,” she said. “My son’s heart is beating in your chest. You are a part of our family, and you will be invited to family functions whether you want to come or not.”