Joe Mauer rocks Zubaz pants and basketball trophy in portrait of the catcher as a young boy

David Brown
Big League Stew

How many "best parts" can a photo have? This picture of Minnesota Twins superstar Joe Mauer at (perhaps) 9 years old has too many to count.

• The Zubaz pants. They've been making a comeback, thank goodness, but for a while it appeared the striped wonders would remain a relic of the late 1980s and early '90s. Every kid in '92 (with any taste) wanted Zubaz, and obviously Mauer's parents came through for the lad.

• The reluctant smile for the camera. Mauer (from what I can tell) is genuinely friendly, and a nice guy as an adult, but there's some shyness there also. His emotions mostly stay under the surface, a lament of some Twins watchers. It makes sense that, while he's obviously happy about winning a basketball trophy and wearing those pants, something prevents him from showing a grin. As the inset photo of Mauer shows, it's obvious he's worked on that part of his personality.

• The bangs. Oh my gosh darn it, the bangs. That's the price you pay for Zubaz pants; subjecting yourself to bangs because that's what mom wants. It's "kid pro quo" at its most elemental. Note, again in the inset photo, how Mauer's catcher's helmet simulates the bangs today. Mauer is in charge of his own haircut now — he's an adult — but he's still got mom on his mind. That's for you, Mrs. Mauer.

• The basketball trophy. We don't know precisely what he got it for, but it's likely that Mauer's team won a tournament. He was, after all, a 12-sport star by the time high school came.

• The house. As Twitter follower Bob Bohland said:

Can you imagine? The original Mauer Compound in the Twin Cities! It's like seeing where George Washington, or Jay-Z, or the Corleones from "The Godfather" grew up! Love the brick. Indifferent about the awning.

• The shoes. Untied high-tops. Who can't relate to that? My grandfather was a photographer, and one of the best tips he ever gave anyone taking a picture was, "Everybody's got feet." In other words, don't worry about capturing every inch of the person. Waist-and-up is fine. Thank goodness his sage advice was ignored here. Not only do we see all of the Zubaz, but we get to see Joe Mauer's untied shoes. Crucial to the adorableness quotient of the photo.

This photo has been kind of an internet legend for a few years, having been discussed at places like Randball. It showed up on the Facebook site for Zubaz on Wednesday, and Danny Ferris, one of the MLB Fan Cave dwellers, tweeted about it. And now it's part of The Stew's permanent record. I'm going to celebrate by buying some Zubaz pants.

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