Still, this story of the Minnesota native with the smooth, left-handed swing who played for the Twins the entire time sure was made for a movie.
Six weeks after Mauer symbolically donned his catcher’s gear for one last crouch behind the plate in the final inning of the Twins’ season, Mauer formalized his goodbye to the game at a tear-filled yet cheerful news conference to wrap up a 15-year major league career at age 35.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have the personal accolades, and I really do believe that’s a byproduct of how the team does, and those things just come along with it,” Mauer said. “But I’d want to be known as a great teammate, a great person, and a guy who gave it everything he had.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
“You helped keep me grounded and never let me forget my roots,” said Mauer, who began honing his skills at the sandlots and rec centers of St. Paul, less than 10 miles from the big league ballpark in Minneapolis in which he first began playing at age 20 to open the 2004 season.
That’s the same city where Hall of Fame members Jack Morris, Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield were raised. Mauer’s final tally of 2,123 hits might ultimately leave him short of the call to Cooperstown, but he was clearly on that track over the first 10 years of his career, considering he hit .323 with an .873 on-base-plus-slugging percentage until a concussion in 2013 forced him to move out from behind the plate and become a first baseman. Mauer is the only American League catcher to win a batting title, a feat he accomplished three times: 2006, 2008 and 2009.
“The naysayers will talk about maybe not enough career numbers, a little decline at the end … but there’s going to be a lot of numbers that put him right in the mix with some of the Hall of Famers,” Molitor said. “So I’m obviously a little bit biased. I’d love to see it happen.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike
The latest concussion in May that kept him out for a month, Mauer said, caused him to seriously consider retiring for the first time. The expiration of his eight-year, $184 million contract in October created a natural parting, but the long-term effect of head injuries and his dedication to family weighed much heavier than an MLB-best .407 batting average this year with runners in scoring position.
The respect for Mauer was evident with the appearance of former Twins managers Molitor, Ron Gardenhire and Tom Kelly and ex-general managers Terry Ryan and Bill Smith. Molitor was fired last month and replaced by Rocco Baldelli, who also showed up.
So did Mauer’s former teammates Glen Perkins, Justin Morneau and Corey Koskie. His coach at Cretin-Derham Hall High School, Jim O’Neill, who taught him to never swing at the first pitch, was there. His maternal grandparents, who attended all but about a dozen of his home games with the Twins, a staggering total of approximately 1,200, also attended.