Joe Mauer (

Joe Mauer

This article was written by Joseph Wancho

Joe Mauer (Trading Card DB)Nearly everyone knows of a person who is a natural. The classmate who barely cracks open a book and yet gets straight A’s. The popular student whom everyone emulates. The athlete who succeeds in any sport they attempt. The phrase “He’s a natural” has been used again and again to describe those with innate ability.

Joe Mauer was one of those athletes. “Once he figures out the concept of a game, he’s good at it,” said Mauer’s high school teammate, Tony Leseman. “It’s amazing and annoying at the same time.”1 One day when Mauer and his friends went to the bowling alley. Joe rolled a 265 game. He was just learning the sport and posted a score that would make any kegler proud.

Mauer was an all-state point guard in basketball. However, it was baseball and football where he was head and shoulders above his peers. By the end of his senior year, he was the top-rated recruit nationally in both sports. After Mauer was drafted number one overall by his hometown team, the Minnesota Twins, in 2001, the lucrative contract that accompanies the number one selection was enough for him to choose the diamond over the gridiron.

After 15 seasons with the Twins, who could fault his decision? During his career, Mauer won one Most Valuable Player Award, three batting titles, three Gold Glove Awards as a catcher, and five Silver Slugger Awards while going to six All-Star Games. Mauer was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2024 in his first year of eligibility. It was a natural conclusion to an outstanding career which saw him become, as of 2024, the only catcher to ever lead the American League in batting.

Joseph Patrick Mauer was born on April 19, 1983, in St. Paul, Minnesota.2 He was the third son born to Donald Charles “Jake” Mauer and Teresa (née Tierney). Jake Mauer was often referred to as “Big Jake,” to help others differentiate him from his father “Grandpa Jake” and his eldest son, “Little Jake.” Big Jake worked for a company that made plaques, trophies, and ribbons. Teresa – an excellent athlete as a schoolgirl – was an office manager at a retail store that sold religious artifacts. The middle Mauer boy was named Billy.3

In his leisure time, Big Jake coached his sons. As part of this effort, he designed a hitting tool for them. Wiffle balls were dropped through a coffee can and a series of PVC pipes. The boys used a skinny 32-inch steel pipe to swing at the plastic ball, helping them to develop a quick, compact swing. The device was later marketed as Mauer’s Quickswing.4

Grandpa Jake also played a role in his grandsons’ development. He lived with the Mauers and watched over the boys when Big Jake and Teresa were at work. The eldest Jake spent countless hours working with the youths to hone their athletic skills.5

Joe Mauer enrolled at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul. The Catholic high school boasted one of the state’s outstanding sports programs.  Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and Hall of Fame baseball player Paul Molitor were also former Raiders. “Our sophomore year, he [Mauer] made the Team USA 18-and-under team,” said Leseman. “That’s when the media started to pick it up and mention him as a top-round baseball pick.”6

A quarterback in football, Mauer was given the reins of the varsity team his junior year. He threw for over 2,400 yards and led the Raiders to a state championship. His senior season, Mauer threw for over 2,800 yards and 41 touchdowns (seven in one game). He was the top-rated recruit in the nation. “I had him as my top-ranked player that year (2001), everybody did,” said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He was tall [6-feet-5], had a great arm, great football sense.”7 Mauer signed a letter of intent to play football for legendary coach Bobby Bowden at Florida State University, following in the footsteps of Weinke.

But the baseball season was yet to be played. The lefty-swinging catcher batted .625 in his senior year, smacking 14 homers and driving in 48 runs. In his three-year career on the Raiders varsity, Mauer struck out only once, at one point homering in seven straight games.8 Cretin-Derham won the state baseball title in 2001,9 and Mauer was named the USA Today National Player of the Year in both football and baseball in his senior year.10

Minnesota selected Mauer with the first overall pick of the amateur draft on June 5, 2001. He signed a contract that included a $5.15 million bonus a month later. “This is like a fairy tale,” said Mauer. “I can’t ask for anything better. It was a fun-filled day.”11 

One day later, the Twins also drafted older brother Jake Mauer, a second baseman from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul), in the 23rd round. “Jake was taken on his own merits,” said Twins General Manager Terry Ryan. “He’s a good-looking hitter.”12  Jake became a utilityman who was good enough to reach Class AA. His career ended in 2005. Subsequently, middle brother Bill Mauer, a pitcher from Concordia University, signed with the Twins as an undrafted free agent.13 Bill’s minor-league career ran from 2003 through 2005.

Joe and Jake headed to Elizabethton (Tennessee) of the Appalachian Rookie League. Joe Mauer immediately noticed a difference between high school baseball and playing professionally. “There are pitchers that throw hard,” said Mauer after his pro debut. “They have good stuff and they know where they’re throwing it. I am going to strike out some. This was pretty tough pitching I faced tonight.”14

Mauer seemed to adjust just fine, batting .400 in 110 at-bats in the short-season rookie league. Mauer continued to hit well as he rose through the Twins’ farm system. Although he hit just .125 in the first three weeks of the season at Quad Cities (Iowa) of the Class A Midwest League in 2002, by mid-June, his batting average was up to .314. “Everybody is going to have a slump from time to time in baseball, and the key is how you handle it, and he showed the character it takes to get out of it quickly.” said Quad Cities manager Jeff Carter. “Joe did all the right things. He didn’t let it get to him. He knows he can hit the ball, and he kept working at it.”15  Mauer finished the year batting .302.

On June 15, 2003, after getting off to a great start with Class A Fort Myers, where he was hitting .335, he was promoted to the next level16 and continued to impress. Mauer improved his average to .341 with the New Britain (Connecticut) Rock Cats of the Class AA Eastern League during the latter part of the 2003 season. The 20-year-old catcher seemed to be a player well beyond his years. With New Britain, he threw out 16 of 34 baserunners (47 percent) attempting to steal, while committing just three errors in 60 games. As he did with his hitting, Mauer continuously worked on his defense. He credited his coaches, Gary Lucas and Floyd Rayford – a former pitcher and catcher, respectively – with his development. “I’ve learned so much from those two guys. Last year, I got a taste of this game. This year I am getting an education of what it’s all about.” 17 Mauer was rewarded for his hard work when he was named Minor League Player of the Year in 2003 by Baseball America. They would not soon forget him in Connecticut. Ten years later they had Joe Mauer Bobblehead Night at New Britain Stadium.18

Since 1991, the Twins’ spring training headquarters has been located in Fort Myers, Florida. Even though Tallahassee, the home of Florida State University, is about 400 miles north of Fort Myers. It did not stop college football fans from giving it to Mauer. “Those first few years, the Florida writers, the fans would give me grief and say what the heck?” said Mauer. “If you were our quarterback, things would’ve been different.”19

Just two weeks before he turned 21. the Twins announced that Mauer, who had never played a game in Triple A, would be the Opening Day catcher in 2004. On April 4, 2004, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published a profile of the rookie, titled The Lock. “That’s a rare guy right there,” said the Twins’ Torii Hunter. “He’s 20, but he’s 20 going on 40. To take pitches like he does, to throw out people the way he does, to call games like he does, and to do it all with that personality and character, that’s special.

“He got me a drink of water the other day. I’m like ‘What? A first-round pick getting me water?’ Most of those guys have too much testosterone and ego to do that.”20

Joe Mauer (Trading Card DB)On April 5, Mauer made his major-league debut, against Cleveland at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The number 7 adorned the back of his home jersey. Batting eighth, Mauer went 2-for-3 with two runs scored as the Twins beat Cleveland, 7-4.

The next day, Mauer’s rookie season was interrupted due to injury. In the top of the second inning, he slid behind home plate attempting to catch a foul ball. His shinguards got caught in the warning track. An MRI showed that he tore the medial meniscus cartilage in his right knee. Surgery was performed and although Mauer returned to the Twins’ lineup in June, after 33 games in June and July, the pain was too much. He played his last game of the 2004 season on July 15. Although brief, his rookie season showed that he would be a force. He batted .308 and gunned down seven of 18 runners trying to steal.

Mauer made a full recovery in time for the 2005 season. He started 110 games at catcher, throwing out 43% of baserunners (23 of 54). He batted .295, hit nine home runs, drove in 55, and set a career high in stolen bases with 13. However, the Twins’ three-year reign as kings of the AL Central was over – they finished in third place, 16 games back.

The 2006 Twins season was thrilling. They battled Detroit and Chicago throughout to capture the division crown. Mauer was in a race for the batting title. Both were decided on the final day of the season.

Mauer was especially hot in May, when he hit .386 (39-for-101) – but was almost unstoppable in June, batting .452 (42-for-93). The Twins hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-game series beginning on June 26. In the first game, Mauer went 4-for-5 with five RBIs in an 8-2 Twins win. The next day, he went 5-for-5 with an RBI in a 9-2 Minnesota victory. They went on to sweep the Dodgers, part of an 11-game winning streak (June 22 to July 3) Mauer’s average reached an astounding .392 on June 28. Mauer was selected as a reserve to back up Detroit’s Ivan Rodriguez at catcher on the AL All-Star team, the first of his six All-Star selections

“Even though some people say Joe should try to hit more home runs, he needs to do this or that, he always sticks with his approach,” teammate Mike Redmond later said. “If you throw him away, he’ll hit it to the left. If you throw him a nasty breaking ball, he’ll hit it up the middle. Every once in a while, if you try to go in on him, he’ll pull. It’s fun to watch him.”21

Going into their final game, Detroit and Minnesota sported identical 95-66 records. Meanwhile, Mauer was batting .346 with New York’s Derek Jeter right behind him at .345.

The Twins toppled the White Sox, 5-1. The Tigers lost in 12 innings to Kansas City, 10-8. Minnesota reclaimed the AL Central. In the Twins’ victory, Mauer went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .347. New York, which had wrapped up the AL East weeks earlier, lost to Toronto, 7-5. Jeter went 1-for-5 and saw his batting average dip to .343. Thus, Mauer became the first catcher in American League history to win a batting title.22  

“Well, he’s special, he’s got a graceful swing, his temperament is so calm and in even the most adverse, pressured situations, he remains a good professional,” said Minnesota hitting coach Joe Vavra. “So he had a lot at stake going into every at-bat today and he knew what was going to happen – and he went out and did what he needed to take the title.”23  

No matter what the circumstances were in 2006, Mauer hit well – during the day (.348) and at night (.347), vs. righties (.356) and southpaws (.331), with men on base (.367) and when the bags were empty (.331). However, there was some speculation that given his size, Mauer should be hitting more home runs. He hit a modest 13 in 2006 while winning his first Silver Slugger Award. “They just find one thing after another,” said Mauer that July. “They said that I couldn’t hit lefties. It gives you motivation to work on things so that they can’t really say anything.”24

Oakland swept the Twins in three games in the ALDS in 2006, holding Mauer to two singles in 11 at-bats.

Before spring training opened in 2007, the Twins avoided arbitration by signing their young star to a four-year, $33 million contract. The contract turned out to be a bargain for the Twins. Although a strained left quadriceps muscle25 kept Mauer out of the lineup during parts of the 2007 season, including a 29-game stretch from May 5 through June 7, he led the AL in hitting in both 2008 and 2009, with an impressive .365 mark in 2009 en route to his being named the American League MVP. Mauer started the All-Star game and powered out a key fifth-inning double that scored Jeter with the tying run as the AL went on to win, 4-3.

Mauer also led the league that year in on-base percentage (.444) and slugging percentage (.587) and set career highs in home runs (28) and RBIs (96). “My dream was always to be in the big leagues and play in the big leagues,” said Mauer. “Now to get an MVP…I can’t really describe it.”26 Entering the 2024 season, Mauer’s .365 average stood as the highest in the AL over the past 19 years.

Mauer was the fifth player in Twins’ history to win the MVP Award, joining Zoilo Versalles (1965), Harmon Killebrew (1969), Rod Carew (1977) and Justin Morneau (2006).  

But the MVP honor was not the only one for Mauer. He also won his second straight Gold Glove (.997 fielding percentage) and fueled by his 28 homers, claimed his third Silver Slugger Award.

In the middle of the 2009 season, Molitor (then a minor-league instructor for the Twins) offered his perspective on Mauer’s importance to the team. “If you want to build your organization around a player who provides leadership, stability and represents your club in the highest possible fashion, on and off the field, I don’t know how many guys out there can match Joe,” said Molitor. “To have all of that, and have the guy playing in his hometown, when your franchise is preparing to go into a new ballpark, and he’s your cornerstone player? That is an amazing and rare thing.”27

As late as mid-August, the third-place Twins were just 56-62 and trailed the first place Tigers by 6.5 games after losing the first game of a four-game set to the Texas Rangers. Mauer shined on August 18 as the Twins evened up the series. Texas had gotten off to a 5-0 lead when Mauer led off the fourth inning with a homer. In the sixth inning, the Twins rallied for four runs to tie the game. After Texas regained the lead in the bottom of the inning, Mauer knotted things up again with a homer leading off the seventh. By the time Mauer once again came to the plate, the Twins had an 8-6 lead and Mauer singled in the final Minnesota run in a 9-6 win.

The win on August 18 triggered a streak of seven wins in eight games that brought the Twins’ record to .500 and moved them into second place. A September charge included a stretch during which they won 11 of 12 games to pull within two games of the league lead. But, with just four games remaining, the Twins trailed Detroit by three games. They swept the four games, forcing a playoff with Detroit for the division title.

The Twins won the AL Central, topping Detroit 6-5 in a winner-take-all playoff game. The Twins were behind in the early innings but came back to tie the game and force extra innings. A walk-off single by Alexi Casilla put the Twins into the postseason. Their jubilation was short-lived: New York swept the Twins in three games in the ALDS even though Mauer went 5-for-12 with a double.

The 2010 season was momentous for Twins fans. After 28 seasons in the Metrodome, the team moved into a new baseball-only stadium, Target Field – an open-air venue, their first outdoor facility since the 1981 season at Metropolitan Stadium.  In their first season in the ballpark, they set a franchise home attendance record of 3,233,640.

During spring training in 2011, Mauer signed an eight-year contract worth $184 million that would kick in for that season. At the time, it was the fourth-largest salary in MLB history. “I’m just thrilled to do this for the rest of my career,” said Mauer. “I’ve told everyone here that I’m going to give you everything I got. My goal is to win a World Series and I look forward to doing that.’28     

Minnesota captured another division title in 2010. This time there was no drama, as the Twins started September by going 16-4 and cruised to the playoffs. During this stretch, Mauer jammed his left knee and missed nine games. For the season, Mauer batted .327, second on the team to Morneau (.345). In the ALDS, the Twins again met the Yankees, with the same result: New York won three straight games. Mauer had three singles in 12 at-bats.

In the offseason, Mauer had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He spent part of spring training rehabbing the joint; however, just a week into the season, it was still hurting. He was diagnosed with bilateral leg weakness. Mauer missed two months of the season and did not return until mid-June. When he did return, Mauer played some games at first base and some as the designated hitter. He split catching duties with Drew Butera and René Rivera. His batting average dipped to a career-low .287.

Mauer rebounded from his subpar 2011 season, batting .319 with 10 homers and 85 RBIs in 2012. Mauer led the league with a .416 on-base percentage. On August 27, 2012, against Seattle, he set a club record by playing in his 832nd game at catcher, surpassing Earl Battey, who had played in 831 from 1961 to 1967.

On December 1, 2012, Mauer married the former Madeline Ann Bisanz in a lavish ceremony attended by 600 family and friends. Joe and Maddie were classmates at Cretin-Derham. The couple had three children: twin daughters Emily and Maren were born in 2013 and son Charles joined the family 5 years later in 2018.29 While Joe chose baseball as his career, Maddie became a registered nurse.

Mauer was having another productive season in 2013, hitting .320 at the All-Star break with eight home runs and 32 RBIs. The fans voted him to start at catcher for his sixth and final All-Star Game. He went 1-for-2 in the game on July 16, as his infield hit in the fifth inning factored in the AL extending its lead in a game they won, 3-0. However, on August 19 against the New York Mets, a foul tip banged against his mask. The next day, Mauer experienced dizziness and was sent home with concussion symptoms. His condition did not improve and Mauer did not return for the rest of the season.

After consulting with team physicians, the decision was made to move Mauer to first base in a permanent position change. “I think I will be a lot more healthy,” he said. “There have been many times when I’ve gone up to the plate with foul tips off the shoulder and legs or I could not feel my legs. I talked with Morneau, who was a catcher back in the day, and he said, ‘You are going to be amazed at how much better you feel.’ I’m looking forward to that.”30      

Over the next three seasons, Mauer’s batting average ranged from .261 to .277; he hit a total of 25 homers. In 2017, he rebounded to a more typical mark of .305. The Twins finished in second place in the AL Central, 17 games behind Cleveland. Still, it was good enough for a wild card berth. As luck would have it, they faced their nemesis, the Yankees – and lost 8-4. During Mauer’s tenure with the Twins, their postseason record was 0-10.

Mauer retired after the 2018 season. In 1,858 games, he batted .306 with 2,123 hits, 143 home runs, and 923 RBIs. His fielding percentage at catcher was .995, and he threw out 181 of 545 base stealers (33 percent).

In 2015, Cretin-Derham Hall High School dedicated its new athletic facility, the Joe Mauer Field House. The new facility held three full-size athletic courts, a 10,000-square-foot fitness center, offices, and locker rooms. A plaque reads in part that their (Joe and Maddie) “philanthropy is reflective of their deeply held commitment to compassionate service and includes support for organizations dedicated to education, developmental disabilities, health care, and young athletes.”31

The Twins retired Mauer’s number 7 in 2019. He joined Killebrew (3), Carew (29), Tony Oliva (6), Kent Hrbek (14), Kirby Puckett (34), Jim Kaat (36), and Bert Blyleven (28) as former Twins players receiving that honor. Manager Tom Kelly (10) also had his number retired by the Minnesota organization (which, along with every other big-league team, did so for Jackie Robinson’s 42).

In retirement, Mauer became a full-time father, a role which he wholeheartedly embraced. “I’ve been coaching softball and baseball this summer,” he said in 2023. “So I’ve been at the ballpark five days a week, which I thought I was getting away from.”32 On August 5, 2023, Mauer became the 38th member to be inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. He also kept busy with the Mauer Auto Group, a Chevrolet dealership he owned and operated with brothers Jake and Billy. He also wrote the foreword to a children’s book called The Right Thing to Do: The Joe Mauer Story.

When Mauer was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2024, his class included Adrian Beltré, Todd Helton, and Jim Leyland. Mauer received 293 votes (76.1%) to gain entry on his first ballot. He was the first player elected to Cooperstown who was drafted in the 21st century. In addition, Mauer joined Ken Griffey Jr., Harold Baines, and Chipper Jones as former number-one overall picks enshrined in the Hall. Upon hearing of Mauer’s election to the Hall, Morneau heaped praise on his ex-teammate. “It was truly an honor to watch you work,” said Morneau. “You were the best at your position. You were the best at what you did. I was tearing up today when I got the news.”33 

Oakland pitcher Dallas Braden summed up Mauer’s career this way: “The dude is about as storybook as it gets – from hometown hero to living legend enshrined forever in baseball glory!”34  

Last revised: June 19, 2024



This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and David Bilmes and checked for accuracy by SABR’s fact-checking team.



In addition to the sources show in the notes, the author used and

Photo credits: Trading Card Database.



1 Aaron Torres, “Joe Mauer: The one that got away from college football,” Fox Sports, February 2, 2015, February 2, 2015. Accessed May 4, 2024.

2 Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), Biographical Committee Research, Player Hall of Fame Clip File.

3 Curt Brown, “A home-grown pick,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 6, 2001: A10.

4 Kelli Anderson, “The Perfect Catch,” Sports Illustrated, August 7, 2006: 52. 

5 Anderson, “The Perfect Catch,” 52

6 Torres, “Joe Mauer:  The one that got away from college football,”

7 Torres, “Joe Mauer: The one that got away from college football,”

8 Roman Augustoviz, “The Mauer File,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 6, 2001: C10.

9 Roman Augustoviz, “Mauer goes out on top,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 16, 2001: C14.

10 Steve  Greenberg, “Sporting News Conversation: Joe Mauer,” The Sporting News, April 26, 2010: 39.

11 Roman Augustoviz, “A Great Day for No Ordinary Joe,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 6, 2001: C10.

12 John Millea, “Mauer’s double their pleasure,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 7, 2001: C9.

13 La Velle Neal III, “Gardenhire: Closer wasn’t option,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 6, 2003: C11.

14 Matt Hill, “Mauer Solid in Twins Debut,” Elizabethton Star, July 24, 2001: 8.

15 Steve Patterson, “Primary Education,” Quad-City Times, June 18, 2002: D6.

16 Chris Umpierre, “Three Miracle Stars Earn Promotions,” News-Press (Fort Myers, Florida), June 15, 2003: 6C.

17 Patteson. “Primary Education.”

18 New Britain Rick Cats Promotional Advertisement, The Hartford Courant, July 18, 2013: C1.

19 Torres, “Joe Mauer: The one that got away from college football.” While Florida State, coached by Bobby Bowden, was consistently a Top-20 team during the seasons in which Mauer would have been eligible to play for it, the program never finished any higher than No. 10 in the final rankings. Florida State had been a Top 4 program for the previous 16 seasons. Adrian McPherson, the team’s starting quarterback in 2001 and 2002, was dismissed from the team after being arrested in 2002.

20 Jim Souhan, “The Lock,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 4, 2004:  T4.

21 Kelly Thesier, “Twins’ Catcher Takes His Stride to Stardom in Stride,” Baseball Digest, November 2006, 34.

22 In the National League, catchers won the batting title in three different seasons: Bubbles Hargrave (1926), Ernie Lombardi (1938 and 1942).

23 Sid Hartman, “Just When you Think You’ve Seen It All, Something Magical Happens,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 2, 2006: C3.

24 Alan Schwartz, “Mauer Stays Hot and Humble in Minnesota,” Baseball America, July 3-16, 2006: 7.

25 Joe Christensen, “Strained Muscle Sidelines Mauer,” Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), May 6, 2007: C15.

26 La Velle Neal III, “Extraordinary Joe,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 24, 2009: A1.

27 Jim Souhan, “The Joe You Don’t Know,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 12, 2009:  A11.

28 La Velle Neal III, ‘Mega-Payday for Hometown Hero,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 23, 2010: C1, C3

29 La Velle Neal III, “Joe Mauer at 40:  A Little Golf, a Little Relaxation – and a lot of Being a Dad,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 28, 2023: C1, C6

30 La Velle Neal III, “Gardenhire Looking Forward to Penciling in Mauer at New Position,” Minneapolis Star Tribune November 12, 2013:  C4.

31 Paul Walsh, “Alma Mater names fieldhouse for Mauer,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 22, 2015: B2.

32 La Velle Neal III, “Joe Mauer at 40:  A Little Golf, a Little Relaxation – and a lot of Being a Dad,” C6.

33 Bobby Nightengale, “After Getting the Word, Praise Follows,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 24, 2024: C4.

34 Nightengale. “After Getting the Word, Praise Follows.”

Full Name

Joseph Patrick Mauer


April 19, 1983 at St. Paul, MN (USA)

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