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Joe Mauer: Maybe the Best Minnesota Hometown Hero Ever

By Brandon Merrill

Many youngsters in Minnesota grew up playing baseball in their back yards or on old dirt fields pretending to be their favorite player in the big leagues being the hero, and making the big play. I was no different. I wanted to play for the Minnesota Twins and have my name shouted out like Kirby Puckett’s was every time I stepped up to the plate. As most of us know, it is very difficult to make it to the majors, and after 10+ years playing competitive baseball, it was time for me to move on. The dream though has never died.

Baseball is a family sport, and indeed still America’s pastime. Yet, it is more than that in Minnesota, and it is shown more than ever by the Minnesota Twins organization, and recent contract extension signee, 2009 AL MVP Joe Mauer. He is what baseball was meant be to all of us, and I am not talking about the big money contract. My dream is being lived out watching the St. Paul native play for the Twinkies. He wants to win. He wants to be the best at what he does. He wants to continue the legacy and magic that is Major League Baseball, but most importantly, he wants to do it in a Twins jersey.

A hometown hero who’s here to stay best describes Joe Mauer for me. Since his days at Cretin-Derham Hall Joe Mauer has been know by many in Minnesota, but now he is the icon for professional sports in the land of 10,000 lakes. I cannot help but think about the families going to Target Field on a warm summer day eating hotdogs and peanuts watching their favorite player, Joe Mauer, throw a guy out at second or crush one into the right field bleachers. It is a cycle that continues on like my dad did with me going to watch Kirby, Kent, Knoblauch, and the whole gang growing up.

The investment in Joe Mauer made by the Twins organization of 184 million dollars over the next 8 seasons seems like more of an investment in Minnesota Twins fans. The organization is showing that it is making moves to give us the best chance to win a World Series while still maintaining a reasonable salary limit. The Pohlads payroll increase is based on performance. The better the performance the more the owners will do in return. That is the way it should be. Hard work pays off, so prove that you are worth the extra ching and good things will come. I do like the fact that Twins have one of the lower team salaries in the league, yet still manage to be competitive, and make it to the post season. Game 163, nuff said.

Joe Mauer has definitely proven his worth to this organization, and to the world of baseball. Had he left Minnesota, and went to the Red Sox or god forbid the Yankees, a lot of Twins fans would be crushed as well ticket sales at the new field. The Twins would have a curse put on them similar to the Babe Ruth/Boston curse to which though we would never recover. It would be a dark time for Twins baseball. The right move was made, and all of baseball will agree. To make sure that he will not go anywhere else, Mauer even had a no trade clause added to the contract. Again he is here to stay, and that will keep the magic of Twins baseball alive for years to come.

Baseball is meant to bring us all together. Whether it be by flailing the homer hanky wildly in the post season, singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at the 7th inning stretch, or something as silly as wearing your hat upside down and inside out to bring about a rally in the late innings, nothing can compare to the common bond of a baseball game. The players and fans alike have that common fellowship for those 9 or more innings. Who better to experience that with than guys like Moreneau, Kubel, Cuddyer, Span, Delmon, Gardy, and yes Joe Mauer. This season promises to be one for the books, and I cannot wait to see that play out this year while the sun hits my face at Target Field. After all this is Twins Territory.


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