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Joe Mauer prepares for Hall of Fame induction feeling father’s absence

Joe Mauer has never been one to seek attention, it has just tended to find him since he was a three-sport star at Cretin-Derham Hall in the late 1990s. But he ran toward it on Saturday, answering questions from fans — and taking photos with them — in Woodbury.

Mauer’s appearance was part of the grand opening of Public Lands, an outdoor sports outlet in the Woodbury Lakes shopping district, an indication of how years in the spotlight have made the former Twins all-star and 2009 American League MVP more comfortable in a crowd.

He talked to fans about his favorite opposing ballparks — Fenway and the old Yankee Stadium — and his favorite highlight moment — a three-run, ninth-inning home run in Boston that sparked a come-from-behind, 6-4 victory in August 2012.

“I haven’t really done many of these, but it was good,” he said after posing for photos with more than 100 fans inside the store.

He also, of course, spoke about his impending induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Asked about whether he expected to be a first-ballot electee, he told an inquisitor that the Hall gives nominees a 30-minute window in which they can expect a call informing them of induction.

“If they call, you’re in.” Mauer said. “If they don’t, you wait till next year. In the words of Bert Blyleven, he said, ‘Have a beer and wait till next year.’ ”

But Mauer didn’t have to wait. Joined by a small group of family members, he received the call on Jan. 23. His career will achieve its apotheosis when he is officially inducted on July 21 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

“Right now, it’s just buildup,” Mauer said. “We have to check things off the list before we actually get out there.”

That includes writing his speech, which Mauer is constructing with a team of undisclosed aides he described as “a few people who have opinions to kinda hear what it sounds like.”

“It’s a work in progress,” he added.

The sad part of the story is that Mauer will be inducted without his father, Jake, who passed away on Jan. 17 at the age of 66, a year before his youngest son learned he would be a hall of famer. Joe Mauer and his brothers, Billy and Jake, all played and/or coached in the Twins organization.

When Mauer described the experience of getting the call from Cooperstown, he said he “had my parents” there until correcting himself. His mother Teresa was there with his brothers Jake and Billy, his wife Maddie and their three children, and his in-laws.

“It’s been tough, just because they did everything together. That’s just how it was. It was ‘the parents,’ ” Mauer told the Pioneer Press.

In some ways, Mauer said, it still hasn’t completely sunk in.

“The kids will do something, and I’ll catch myself as I go to call him,” he said. “It’s been hard. A lot of things happening, and the kids are growing — different milestones. You want to pick up the phone and call him, but you can’t. It’s tough.

“I wish he could see this (happen) this summer. I know he will, just from a different perspective.”

Until then, Mauer has more preparation ahead of him — mostly that speech. It was a 15-year career, all with the hometown team, that included a .306 career batting average and three AL batting titles. And then there are the people who helped him get there.

It’s a lot to synopsize.

Unlike Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, those enshrined in Cooperstown don’t pick who enshrines them. Mauer and fellow inductees Adrian Beltré and Todd Helton will be introduced by a master of ceremonies.

“Then I go up and I think I have 8-10 minutes to get it all in there,” he said.

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