Connor Van Hulzen – Staff Writer
The Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer officially announced his retirement on Friday, Nov. 9. Mauer played for his hometown Twins for 15 seasons in an amazing career which should one day earn him a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
For older Twins fans in the Twin Cities, Mauer was the local kid whose games they all went to see. Mauer grew up in St. Paul. He was a three-sport athlete at Cretin-Derham Hall, where he played basketball, baseball, and football. Mauer played well enough to be drafted right out of high school in 2001 by the Twins with the first overall pick while also having an offer on the table for a full-ride to Florida State University to play quarterback for the football team.
For younger Twins fans, such as myself, Mauer was the player that embodied everything that a young baseball player could ever want to be. He was the rare Twins player to make the cover of Sports Illustrated. He was the one player who made it into national TV commercials. And the best part? Even though he was achieving all kinds of things on the field and finding success off of it, he was always that same Minnesotan—just like any other—often simply being called ‘Joe’ by Twins fans.
Joe had lots of successful moments in his career. Winning the 2009 American League MVP, three batting titles, six All-Star game appearances, five Silver Sluggers, and three Gold Gloves are amongst his most notable stats. One that drew the attention—and ridicule—from Mauer’s doubters was his total of zero playoff wins in his 15 seasons with the Twins.
In four trips to the playoffs with the Twins during his career, Mauer and his teams went 0-10, with seven of those losses coming across three series against the hated New York Yankees.
Later in his career, after signing an eight year, $184-million contract in 2010, Mauer began to seemingly attract more and more haters. The local sports radio station no longer referred to Joe as “Baby Jesus,” but instead created a segment where they tracked how long it had been since Mauer had played in a game called, “How Long Will Mauer Milk It?”
It’s true that Joe ended up playing in fewer games as his career progressed, but this was understandably caused by a concussion he suffered in the 2013 season. The concussion both limited his playing ability and caused him to change positions from catcher to first base.
The switch to first base and the somewhat decreased production has made Mauer’s claim at a spot in Cooperstown less valid, but I personally believe that he should be inducted. His stats rank favorably against the catchers currently in the Hall of Fame and his achievements have a special place in history. He is the only catcher in the history of Major League Baseball to win three batting titles, and the only American League catcher to ever win even one.
For a person who will forever be remembered for his opposite-field doubles and his long career playing for his hometown team, Joe Mauer never changed. Though he now enters the conversation for future Hall of Fame members, he would be sure to play it down and give credit to his teammates, coaches, and others, just like any good Minnesotan would. He has been, and always will be, one of us.