Maurice Hargrow moved from Springfield, Ohio, to St. Paul during a blizzard in the late winter of 1991, as a third-grader. The family found an apartment on Dale Street and the lad known as “Moe” discovered Oxford Playground and the Jimmy Lee Rec Center once the snow stopped.
The basketball team that was assembled when Moe was in the fourth grade included Joe Mauer.
“Joe was playing for Jimmy Lee before I got there,” Hargrow said. “And I think he was the only white kid we had on our team until the eighth grade.
“Teams didn’t like it when Jimmy Lee showed up for a tournament. We would run and press, steal the ball and shoot layups. The parents on the other team would complain, but we were just young kids, going as fast as we could.”
Could the Caucasian lad keep up? Hargrow laughed and said:
“Joe was special, a natural. In the fourth grade, he had this Pistol Pete [Maravich] move. He would go hard with his right hand, fake left, then keep going righthanded, and he’d get you every time.”
Moe and Joe became buddies. “Teresa, Joe’s mom, would pick me up almost every day for practice,” Hargrow said. “And I spent a lot of time hanging out at Joe’s house.”
Hargrow said there were so many first-place trophies, medals and ribbons from the Jimmy Lee days that there still are drawers full in unknown locations.
He paused and said: “Joe was selected for a traveling team called the Minnesota Ice; I think it was the fifth grade. And his grandfather went to an early practice and told the coach, ‘There’s another kid that should be on this team — Moe Hargrow.
“Because of playing for Minnesota Ice, I wound up playing for Streets, and then I wound up playing for Howard Pulley, and because of Pulley, I wound up being recruited by major schools.”
Hargrow played 3½ seasons for the Gophers, peaking at 13.2 points per game as a sophomore in 2002-03. His college career included a transfer semester at Arkansas (he didn’t play there) when he was crossways with coach Dan Monson.
Moe played nine seasons of international basketball in the United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Qatar, Japan, Morocco and Colombia. Mauer played 15 seasons for the Twins, won three batting titles, was an MVP and will have his No. 7 retired this weekend at Target Field.
“He was one of the first friends I made when I moved to St. Paul,” Hargrow said. “Joe — and Big Jake and Teresa, and Grandpa … I love the Mauers.”