Joe Mauer, winner of batting titles, Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger Awards and a growing number milestone mementos, has the materials to decorate one of the all-time man caves if he wanted to.
Yet most of the hardware and baseballs he has collected through his career — when he has remembered to ask for personal memorabilia — is packed away in boxes. Mauer owns two homes and one cabin in Minnesota, but none of them has a designated area to reflect his 15-year Twins career. The first baseman admitted that he doesn’t know where some of the stuff he has won or accumulated is even kept.
“My parents have the MVP trophy [from 2009] and a couple other things,” Mauer said. “But I didn’t want to put stuff up until after I’m done playing.
“I have stuff, but I don’t have it out. It’s in storage boxes and stuff like that.”
His collection is about to increase by one baseball. Mauer enters a three-game series against Houston only six hits shy of 2,000 for his career. He would join Kirby Puckett (2,304) and Rod Carew (2,085) as the only players with at least 2,000 hits with the Twins.
After Houston, the Chicago White Sox visit for four games. Mauer has hit more home runs (18) against the White Sox than any opponent.
So, barring unforeseen developments, sometime this week the Cretin-Derham Hall product will become the 287th major leaguer to reach the 2,000-hit plateau. He also will become the 10th active player to reach that mark. Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki leads that group with 3,085.
Both Mauer and Suzuki were denied chances to add to their hit totals on Sunday, when the series finale between the Twins and Mariners was postponed because of inclement weather. It will be made up May 14.
Mauer will be relieved to reach 2,000 at Target Field, where there are usually a few members of his family in attendance each game.
“There’s a lot of family meetings at the ballpark,” he said.
Mauer might not have a large inventory of memorabilia to show off, but he makes up for it in quality. One day, he will display his five Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves as a catcher and three trophies for his AL batting titles. And maybe he will retrieve the MVP trophy from his parents.
“There are a couple of things I have out,” Mauer said. “I know in my office I have a picture of Rod, Tony [Oliva] and I. A couple things like that. But I don’t have any of my awards put up.”
Mauer was like many players who don’t start thinking about collecting until later in a career. He knows he has missed out on opportunities to ask for gear and might start doing more of that now that he’s almost 35. He does have most of his milestone baseballs, with help from the Twins.
One of the more unique items in his possession came when he was kidding about hitting his 200th double at Chicago late in the 2010 season, the same series during which he collected his 1,000th hit.
“Somebody asked me if I wanted anything from that game,” Mauer said. “And I jokingly said, ‘Yeah, get me second base.’ I was just messing around.
“But the guys in Chicago actually gave me second base. It was kind of cool. I have that up at my parents’ house. I wish I would have done a little bit more of that. I don’t have a whole lot, to be honest.”
Mauer said he is not counting down the hits he needs to reach 2,000, but he is looking forward to adding that ball to his growing collection. He has not commented on whether he will play in 2019 — his celebrated eight-year, $184 million contract expires after the season — but clearly he is in the collectible stage of his career. Eventually, he is going to rummage through his storage area for the boxes marked “batting titles.”
It was pointed out to Mauer that if he played about another seven years, he could collect the ball from his 3,000th hit.
“I don’t know about that,” he said with a chuckle. “That’s a long way to go for that.”