COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Twins had the first overall pick in the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft. Experts around the country had weighed in on who they thought would be the most successful prospect that would emerge from that class, and that name was not Joe Mauer.
People thought the Twins were crazy not to select pitching phenom Mark Prior with that pick, but 13 years later, it has been Mauer that has developed into the larger than life poster child for the franchise.
Mauer's on-field success is one reason that he's been so popular with Twins fans. Prior to his arrival in 2004, no catcher had ever won the American League batting championship. Three titles in 2006, 2008 and 2009 changed that and he piled on with a 2009 AL MVP award and six All-Star appearances.
However, Mauer's off the field resume is as impressive with Minnesotans as his play on it.
Mauer is a native of St. Paul, Minn. where he starred at Cretin-Durham High School. It would be one thing if the hometown hero had been drafted in the first round, but for him to be drafted first overall sent the state into a euphoric frenzy.
Despite having a scholarship offer from Bobby Bowden at Florida State, Mauer signed with the Twins and tore through the minor leagues. Because Minnesotans love it when someone that's "one of us" does something notable, the public ate this up.
Mauer's face is now plastered on buckets of ice cream and gallons of milk, while his name has been polished to the point where his brother Billy has been on ads for his car dealership has describing it as "a name you can trust."
In other words, Minnesotans love their Mauer.
There are a couple people who don't see the same way, but Mauer is everything the Twins and the state want in their local heroes. A clean image and excellence on the field mean that he'll remain the face of the franchise long after his playing days are over.
Chris Schad is a lifelong Twins follower that has spent a majority of his life cheering the Twins on through the dark '90s and success of five American League Central championships in the 2000s. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.
- Sports & Recreation
- Joe Mauer
- Minnesota Twins
- Major League Baseball