I’ve been a Twins fan for as long as I can remember . . . and wonderful memories of so many men who have put on their uniform. Certainly, there have been some great ones–and some so distinguished that they have been inducted into the shrine of all sportsdom; Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
This weekend Joe Mauer announced his retirement after fifteen years as a Twin. Few were surprised after his marvelous send-off in the last home game of this season. When he came out of the dugout wearing his old catcher’s gear I had tears in my eyes. A perfectly choreographed moment.
Joe’s noteworthy career was starcrossed by injuries; especially concussions. Had he been able to continue catching in his last years I have no doubt whatsoever that he would have a place in Cooperstown on his first year of eligibility in five years. Fate, however, was unkind to Joe. His statistics are among the best in Twins history but his total hits fell short of the 3,000 standards–despite an MVP, several batting championships and gold gloves.
In an interview a young man who may take his place at first base next year (Jake Cave) said, “. . . he is, without a doubt, the most respected man in baseball.” His dedication, preparation, and performance were always first class–Joe was first class in every respect. In a tribute, I read in this weekend’s Star-Trib a writer claimed that every pitcher in baseball dreaded to see Joe Mauer in the on-deck circle. With runners on base he was at his best. Some faulted Joe for a lack of leadership in the clubhouse. I’d say that his very presence was always an asset. Sure, his nature was quiet but how can anyone be faulted for who they are?
I applaud his decision. He goes out in a style unlike any of his predecessors. A lifetime Twin who gave to the game as he gave to his community. Now he can enjoy his twin daughters and wait with his wife for their third child. Family is always first in my book. Who knows what he might choose to do a year or two from now . . . but one thing is as certain as winter, his franchise will have something to offer him because he still has so much to give to the organizations future. I’ll expect to see him working with young players during spring training one day soon. Maybe he’ll have some spots in the press box as have Justin, Torii, and others.
Lastly, I thank Joe Mauer for all the wonderful memories he’s given me. Good luck and God bless, Joe.