While Joe Mauer's goodbye at Target Field on Sunday might only be temporary, it's being billed as one of the best moments in Minnesota sports history.
The hometown hero crouched behind home plate and caught one pitch in the ninth inning before exiting to a standing ovation. It was one pitch to remind us all of how great Mauer was behind the dish before concussions forced him to quit catching five years ago.
As a catcher, from 2003-2013, Mauer was a six-time All-Star, three-time batting champion and the American League MVP in 2009. He played 897 games at catcher compared to 593 at first base and 310 as the designated hitter.
It was during his days as a catcher when he bat was most dangerous, and it's not even close to what he did at first base or DH.
- C: .328/.408/.481, 91 HR, 514 RBI, 221 2B, 478 BB, 416 SO, 1,118 H
- 1B: .279/.357/.394, 38 HR, 258 RBI, 135 2B, 277 BB, 390 SO, 641 H
- DH: .301/.390/.407, 12 HR, 141 RBI, 70 2B, 172 BB, 214 SO, 349 H
Reaction to Mauer's magical Sunday at the ballpark have brought his supporters out in bunches. And let's be honest: it's a refreshing change from the constant Mauer bashing Twins fans have listened to for the past eight years, ever since Mauer inked a $184 million contract extension.
A fun fact though is that Mauer made just $34 million over the first seven years of his career. You know, that time when he won three batting titles and took home an MVP award all while putting three Gold Gloves in his trophy case.
Simply put, Mauer was a beast the first half of his career. Fans can complain until they turn blue about Mauer not living up to $23 million guaranteed each of the last eight seasons, but Mauer was paid for what he'd done with hopes that he'd hit that way the rest of his career.
It didn't work out the way a lot of fans wanted it to, but it's good to see that there's still a very large percentage of fans who appreciate what Mauer has done for baseball in Minnesota.