Nothing ordinary about this Joe

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 29, 2006 - 1:14 AM

His sideburns and low-key demeanor have made the Twins catcher a fan favorite. But his hot bat has stirred up Mauer Mania.

Everyone wants a piece of Joe Mauer these days -- or at least a facsimile. As if Joe Mauer Bobblehead Day and Joe Mauer Autographed Bat Day weren't enough, the Twins are planning a Joe Mauer Sideburn Day, in which fans will receive synthetic sideburns.

"You put the name 'Mauer' or Joe's No. 7 on any item and it sells," Matt Noll, Twins merchandise director, said Wednesday about an hour before baseball's top hitter continued his assault on major league pitching with two more hits in a 6-3 Minnesota victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That gave Mauer 11 hits in 13 at-bats during the three-game series sweep of the Dodgers.

Mauer is batting an eye-popping .392, and Mauer Mania is everywhere. Those "Vote Joe" buttons, imploring fans to vote the Twins catcher onto the American League All-Star team, are worn very close to those fans' hearts these days. Balloting for All-Star Game starters ends at 11 CDT tonight.

Mauer is currently third among American League catchers. He'll almost be certainly named to the July 11 All-Star Game as a reserve, if his vote total rally doesn't make him an All Star. The Twins are enticing people to vote by entering those who do so in a drawing for a chance to meet Mauer before a game next month.

On Wednesday -- a day when Twins ace Johan Santana pitched seven shutout innings and Torii Hunter hit a grand slam -- talk in the stands was largely about the kid from St. Paul's Cretin-Derham Hall. A sign in the stands proclaiming "Mauer Power" said it all.

"He's challenging .400!" said Grady Appleton, 42, of St. Paul.

And no major league player, not even the great Rod Carew, has hit .400 since Ted Williams did so 65 years ago.

Appleton was one of dozens of grown men and women wearing Mauer jerseys, priced between $70 and $125. Deb Trainer, 45, of Eagan, said after getting her Mauer jersey, she got one for her husband, as an anniversary gift. Sam Runck, 47, of Eagan, wore her daughter's Mauer jersey, noting that she's hoping Mauer will be her son-in-law.

"He's awesome, and he's a local boy," said Jena Magee, 19, of Maplewood. "And he's cute."

"Totally cute," interrupted her friend, Alecia Evenson, 20, of Woodbury.

Sporting goods manufacturers are just as infatuated.

"He's become an A player nationally," the Twins' Noll said. Often team officials, trying to promote their player, make initial contact with sporting goods companies. But in Mauer's case, those companies are contacting the Twins, Noll said.

'Joe was really nice to me'

Mauer says he's not sure what to make of all the fuss.

"I'm just trying to keep doing what I've always been doing, but it gets hectic," he said after Wednesday's game. "I just try not to pay any attention to that stuff."

At the game, Mauer T-shirts were seen in all sizes and several colors. Vendors sold Mauer teddy bears, dog-tags and baseballs with his picture; Mauer baseball cards on plaques were sold out at most stands.

Josh Walter, 12, and Jacob Kato, 12, both of Alexandria, wore artificial Mauer-like sideburns.

And in St. Paul, the kid with the original synthetic Mauer sideburns -- the kid featured with Mauer in a popular Twins' TV spot -- could only marvel at his hero's hot streak and his cheerful demeanor.

"Joe was really nice to me," said Jake Cunningham, 11. "Before we did the commercial, he came and introduced himself to me -- like I wouldn't know him. When the commercial was done, he invited me into the dugout and gave me a signed bat. "And I got to keep the sideburns. You use this stick stuff and they stay on for hours."

Doing stuff with friends

"How glamorous is Joe's life?" asked Tony Leseman, a former Cretin-Derham Hall teammate and former University of Minnesota player. "Sunday night, we watched the College World Series together [on TV]."

After going 4-for-5 against the Dodgers on Monday night, Mauer celebrated by going bowling with lifelong friend Larry Nava.

"I talk to him every day, and if I didn't watch the game that night, I won't know how he did because he never mentions a thing," Nava said. "But he always asks how my day went.

"That's just Joe. He really is a St. Paul guy."

Other St. Paul players have made it big -- Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield are in the Hall of Fame and Jack Morris is knocking on its door -- but this St. Paul guy is dating former Miss USA Chelsea Cooley. Otherwise, little has changed.

"What can you say?" asked his father, Jake Mauer. "The kid's doing well. But he's always been popular. It's been like this since he was in high school," when Mauer was the national player of the year in baseball and football.

Larry Norder, owner of Air Freight Unlimited, said Mauer still comes around to Concordia University's baseball field to watch the amateur team Norder manages.

"Joe's just Joe," Norder said. "Whether he goes 5-for-5 or 0-for-5, I'm sure he gets to sleep at night. He just doesn't go 0-for-5, that's all."

  • related content

  • Twins beat Dodgers 6-3

    Thursday June 29, 2006

    Torii Hunter's grand slam and Johan Santana's seven scoreless innings overshadowed many other sterling performances.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 104 FINAL
Indiana 91
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Detroit 95
Milwaukee 109 FINAL
Miami 102
Memphis 109 FINAL
Dallas 90
Chicago 113 FINAL
Golden State 111
Washington 98 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 4
Winnipeg 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Washington 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Carolina 4
Dallas 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Detroit 5 FINAL
Florida 4
Colorado 3 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 4
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Ball State 47 FINAL
Akron 59
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Bowling Green 56
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 66 FINAL
Georgetown 53
Vanderbilt 62 FINAL
Georgia 70
West Virginia 65 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Central Mich 53 FINAL
Kent State 63
Saint Josephs 48 FINAL
La Salle 53
Nebraska 44 FINAL
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Toledo 70
Tulsa 62 FINAL
Tulane 55
George Washington 48 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 72
Pittsburgh 67 FINAL
Virginia Tech 70
Indiana State 78 FINAL
Evansville 89
Tabor College 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Florida 52 FINAL
Alabama 50
Tennessee 64 FINAL
Arkansas 69
Texas A&M 71 FINAL
Auburn 61
Baylor 53 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 44 FINAL
Utah State 56
Fresno State 47 FINAL
San Diego St 58
UNLV 67 FINAL
Nevada 62
SD Christian 54 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 79
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Boise State 82
Temple 71 FINAL
UCF 54
Campbell 42 FINAL
Presbyterian 51
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Gardner-Webb 49 FINAL
Radford 59
UNC-Asheville 58 FINAL
Liberty 62
Winthrop 63 FINAL
Longwood 62
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Tulane 63 FINAL
Houston 46
(3) Baylor 89 FINAL
TCU 67
Navy 49 FINAL
American Univ 59
Valparaiso 42 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close