FOX Sports activities MLB Analyst
Joe Mauer’s profession was a daydream.
Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Mauer’s journey from native prep phenom to maybe the best Minnesota Twin of all time is the stuff of fairytales, too serendipitous to be true. Drafted No. 1 general by his boyhood crew in 2001, the towering catcher spent 15 years within the bigs, all with the Twins. Alongside the way in which, he made six All-Star groups, received three batting titles, captured the 2009 AL MVP award and solidified himself as one of the crucial legendary athletes in Twin Cities historical past.
And on Tuesday, he earned the crowning achievement of his profession: election to the Baseball Corridor of Fame.
In his first yr on the poll, Mauer secured 76.1% of the vote, becoming a member of Adrián Beltré and Todd Helton within the 2024 class. The 40-year-old grew to become simply the third catcher to make the Corridor on his first poll (Iván Rodríguez and Johnny Bench) and would be the eighth participant enshrined to don a Twins hat on his plaque.
Although a collection of accidents compelled Mauer to maneuver off catcher after 2013, his decade as Minnesota’s main backstop ranks among the many most spectacular offensive peaks for a catcher in MLB historical past. From 2006 to 2013, the towering lefty produced a .327/.410/.883 slash line with a 139 OPS+. Regardless that Mauer wasn’t actually a house run risk past his 28 blasts in 2009, he averaged 40 doubles a season over his eight-year peak.
And let’s not gloss over his MVP season, which might be the second-best offensive efficiency by a catcher within the trendy period (and got here after he missed all of April with an harm). Mike Piazza’s outrageous 1997 marketing campaign within the peak of the steroid period — .362/.431/.638, 40 homers, 185 OPS+ — might be higher than Mauer’s 2009 — .365/.444/.587, 28 homers, 171 OPS+. However that is likely to be it.
Mauer’s legacy, in fact, is a lot greater than his accolades, 2,123 profession hits or 55.2 bWAR. His profession was the true embodiment of how sports activities can impression communities and foster a significant relationship between a metropolis and its stars.
The story begins earlier than the flip of the century, when a younger Mauer made a reputation for himself within the Minnesota highschool circuit as a three-sport magician in baseball, basketball and soccer. And by his senior yr, Mauer was thought of a generational prospect as a catcher and a quarterback and needed to forgo a soccer dedication to Florida State when he signed with the Twins.
Minnesota’s determination to take Mauer with the highest decide was each courageous and apparent. On the time, there was a whole lot of criticism in regards to the choice. Drafting a cold-weather highschool catcher No. 1 general was a singular, dangerous determination. No person actually knew how Mauer was going to regulate to raised competitors. Mark Prior, a gifted hurler from USC, was thought of a comparable prospect.
However watch just some seconds of Mauer’s highschool baseball highlights and all of it is smart. The uncooked athleticism, the fluidity, the poise, he may have performed highschool ball on the moon, and he would have been an alluring possibility.
Mauer’s draft story in 2001 is hilariously endearing, extremely relatable. Again then, the draft was within the afternoon, and to have fun the day, he invited a bunch of his highschool associates over for lunch in what he later referred to as a “Blimpie Sub Party.” That night time, he and his buddies received a key highschool playoff recreation by 10 runs.
And as soon as Mauer rose up the minor-league ladder to the massive stage, he was instantly a star. Practically 50,000 individuals confirmed as much as the Metrodome for his MLB debut towards Cleveland on April fifth, 2004. Earlier than a recreation in August 2006, to “celebrate the Mall of America’s 14th birthday” the Twins gave out Joe Mauer-inspired sideburns to the primary 10,000 followers. Earlier than his twenty fourth birthday, Mauer was indisputably probably the most recognizable athlete in Minneapolis.
However the fame by no means appeared to vary Mauer, who maintained that humble, aw-shucks perspective for this whole profession, which solely additional endeared him to the locals. Even since his 2018 retirement, he is remained a beloved character within the Twins Cities. There was him surprising a retiring sportscaster on the native information. The governor of Minnesota declared June fifteenth, 2019 — the day of Mauer’s jersey retirement ceremony at Goal subject — Joe Mauer Day. And with this being the primary yr of his Corridor of Fame candidacy, all of the great tales in regards to the Twinniest Twin to ever Twin have all returned to dialog.
Additionally, the man actually had twins.
The one factor lacking from his résumé is playoff success. Throughout his 15-year-career, Mauer performed in simply 10 postseason video games, and the Twins misplaced all 10 of them. However this isn’t basketball or soccer — Mauer selected baseball, keep in mind — and one participant can not singlehandedly re-write the fortunes of a whole group. His lack of October heroism would not take away from his in any other case magnificent profession.
In some ways, his hometown hero story hearkens again to that of Maryland-born, forever-Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. Mauer allowed for a technology of Minnesotans to see points of themselves in a generational athlete. He ate on the locations they ate, went to the colleges they attended, drove the roads they drove, spoke with the thick Minnesota accent they’ve. The 24 different Twins had been honorary Minnesotans, short-term residents passing by as a part of their careers. However Mauer embodied the city, the franchise, the state and the area — and he did so honorably.
A spot in Cooperstown is the right ending to a profession so storybook, future generations may not imagine it.
Jake Mintz, the louder half of @CespedesBBQ is a baseball author for FOX Sports activities. He performed faculty baseball, poorly at first, then very nicely, very briefly. Jake lives in New York Metropolis the place he coaches Little League and rides his bike, generally on the similar time. Observe him on Twitter at @Jake_Mintz.
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