ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Twins will retire Joe Mauer’s No. 7 jersey next season, making a swift move to honor the homegrown player and six-time All-Star who recently retired after a 15-year major league career .
The Twins surprised Mauer with the announcement on Tuesday, while his accomplishments were celebrated at an all-student assembly at his alma mater Cretin-Derham Hall High School.
“I enjoyed putting the uniform on every day and being able to put on the Twins uniform, being at home, meant more to me than you’ll know,” Mauer said. “When I take my kids to a game and see No. 7 up there, it’ll probably put a smile on my face every time I see it.”
Mauer will become the eighth former Twins player or manager with a retired number, joining Harmon Killebrew (3), Rod Carew (29), Tony Oliva (6), Kent Hrbek (14), Kirby Puckett (34), Bert Blyleven (28) and Tom Kelly (10). Jackie Robinson (42) has had his number retired by all major league teams.
Oliva, Hrbek, Blyleven and Kelly entered the gym during the ceremony. Hrbek, another Minnesota-born-and-raised player who spent his entire career with the Twins, spoke at the podium inside the gym and turned to Mauer to reveal the news.
“It’s not every day you have your favorite player growing up telling you you’re going to go on the wall with him with the retired numbers,” Mauer said afterward. “I’m still kind of in shock right now. Those guys helped me out so much, not only as a baseball player, but how to conduct yourself as a man and as a professional.”
In the same place, 17½ years ago, a baby-faced and bespectacled Mauer signed his first contract with the Twins during a news conference following their selection of the smooth-swinging catcher with the first overall pick in the draft. Now, Mauer’s a father of three children with graying and closely shaved hair, contemplating the next phase of life at the ripe old age of 35.
“It’s been going well. It’s been fun to be a full-time dad and help out at home as much as I can,” he said. “It kind of almost feels just like a regular offseason. I know there might be some different feelings and some different emotions come spring training, but I’m definitely in a good place.”
As for scratching that competitive itch, Mauer has begun to join some Sunday pickup basketball games at Cretin-Derham Hall, where he was also a sharpshooting guard and all-state quarterback who had a full scholarship waiting for him at Florida State had he not picked baseball.
“I’m going to miss competing, stepping into the box against the best in the world,” Mauer said. “I’ll miss that when I’m 60 years old, so you know you can’t do it forever, but I’m definitely thankful I was able to do it as long as I did.”
The Twins have yet to determine the date for the jersey-hanging ceremony for Mauer, who leads their all-time list in doubles (428) and times on base (3,087) and is second in games (1,858), hits (2,123) and walks (939). He played 921 games as a catcher, winning three Gold Glove awards, three AL batting titles, five Silver Slugger awards and the 2009 AL MVP award, before a concussion triggered his move in 2014 to first base.
The Twins would love a formal job for Mauer in the future, whether as an ambassador, consultant or coach as other alumni have taken on. There’s no rush for now, particularly with Mauer and his wife, Maddie, caring for month-old Charles at home. He’s being called Chip for now.
“He’s got a lot to think about,” owner Jim Pohlad said, “but my guess is that somehow we’ll connect and there’ll be a role.”
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