Joe Mauer is More than Baseball

Photo: AP: Stacy Bengs

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a Twins fan. There are photos to prove that I was even one even when I can’t remember.  It’s a different relationship for me because growing up, I loved playing the game. It was my number 1 sport of choice.  It still remains my favorite, even now at age 34.  The 2 World Championships in my lifetime also helps, because as we know, the Vikings, Wolves and Wild have ZERO Championship resume to speak of.  I’m thankful for the Twins, Lynx, and (most recently) the White Caps, as teams with professional sports’ championships.

Walking into Target Field Saturday afternoon for “Joe Mauer Day“, there was a rush of Mauer memories that stretched all the way back to the day he was drafted. I remember wondering if Mark Prior would have been the best choice, and had Joe not been a local kid, would the Twins still have taken him?  I’m an over-thinker with everything, so of course these thoughts still run through my head some 18 years later.

Seeing the highlights of one of the best Catchers of all-time both offensively and defensively brought up a lot of emotion as a fan, because we will always wonder “what could have been” behind the plate, if not for the concussions.  When we watch those highlights we really need to soak in his greatness because the “Catcher” position has become so defense-oriented that they are usually placed in the lineup as a compliment to who’s on the mound, not as a legit threat at the plate.

As Joe walked up to the mic to speak to his teammates, family, friends and fans it was clear how much he meant to all of us, and how much we meant to him.  Seeing the former Twins in attendance, along with Johnny Bench, and Kirby Puckett’s children…  It was clear that this was Joe’s night, as he took his place in Minnesota Professional Sports immortality.

Mauer said so many things that touched so many people that night, and there were plenty of happy tears amongst the 40,000+ at the ballpark. One thing he said stuck out to me toward the end of his speech, that really put things into perspective and reminded us that these last 18 years of baseball aren’t all that define Joe Mauer.

Speaking to his young son Chip, Joe said: “Chip, I know you missed all of this, but I can’t wait to tell you about it.”  That part got me.  It was such a simple statement but also one that put a sense of perspective in my head. Baseball wasn’t Joe’s entire life, it was just a part of his life. We aren’t defined by one part of our lives, we are defined by our entire lives.

Joe got to be a great baseball player, while also being a great husband and great father. Now, he gets to move on to the next chapter, as full-time family fan, and there couldn’t be a more deserving guy in the world. A guy who always played the game the right away, and when he was locked in, was one of the best hitters we will ever have seen in this league.  I’m thankful, as a fan, I was able to watch him for 15 seasons.

Joe is no doubt a Hall Of Famer. Sure the injuries shortened his run behind the plate, but in the time he spent back there, he did plenty to prove his worth in Cooperstown.

Brian Heintz | Minnesota Sports Fan

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