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Article: Hall Of Famers On And Off The Field

paul molitor jim thome joe mauer
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 12:08 AM

Joe Mauer had been given Wednesday afternoon off in Chicago. On Thursday night, the Twins returned home to Target Field and Mauer was back in the lineup, Mauer singled to tie Rod Carew for second on the Twins all-time hits list. On Friday, he executed a perfect hit-and-run for a single and hit #2,086, passing the great Carew.

On Saturday night, the Minnesota Twins honored Hall of Famer Jim Thome in a pregame ceremony. Joe Mauer caught the ceremonial first pitch from his former teammate and then went out and added two more base knocks on his quest toward catching Kirby Puckett atop the Twins all-time hit list. Or just to end his season strong.There are a lot of similarities between Jim Thome and Joe Mauer, though they may not be obvious at first glance.

Sure, Mauer has been mostly a singles and doubles hitter, batting for high average while Thome knocked over 600 home runs in his career. Mauer is long and lean while Thome is power-packed and burly. Hey, there’s a reason that the Paul Bunyan comparisons (and bobbleheads) have been made.

But as Paul Molitor discussed the impact that Thome made in his brief time in Minnesota, it was natural for the conversation to swing toward Mauer and his accomplishments on and off the field.

Jim Thome spent the 2010 season with the Twins and hit 25 home runs. In 2011, he played with the Twins until an August 25th trade sent him back to Cleveland.

According to Molitor, Thome certainly made an impact. “He did. I think it’s to his credit that, although the time wasn’t very long, there was a bigger impact that maybe didn’t match up with the time.”

Molitor continued, “What he did on the field was obviously impressive, added to his Hall of Fame credentials, but the influence he had on our group of young players. I remember in spring training, he’d go over to to the minor league fields to get extra at bats. Just the way he responded to those young kids and the example he set (provided an impact). He never took himself too seriously. It was always about enjoying the game and trying to make people around him better. It’s nice that we have the chance to honor him tonight.”

But both Jim Thome and Joe Mauer are such nice people, caring people. Generally, they are quiet people as well. But don’t doubt their drive. Players don’t achieve as much as Thome and Mauer have in their careers without being extremely competitive and driven.

Molitor noted. “I don’t think that you should be misled by the external demeanor or the fire of both of those guys. For a long time, I’d be asked ‘What’s Joe like in the clubhouse?’ He’s top shelf. You may not see it. He handles the ups and downs without the heavy outbursts. But even last night, in talking to his teammates, it was about staying in the moment and looking forward to come out today and trying to win a baseball game.”

He noted that Mauer and Thome are strong leaders. “People define vocal. Vocal doesn’t mean volume.”

Jim Thome’s career began in 1991 in Cleveland. At that time, Molitor’s Milwaukee Brewers were still in the American League. Then Molitor moved to the Blue Jays and ended his career with three years for the Twins. So, he saw a lot of Thome through the 1998 season when Molitor retired.

Molitor noted that it’s been a long time, but he remembers Thome’s early years. “I remember him coming up as a third baseman. I’m not sure if I bunted on him somewhere along the way. You could tell early on. A guy who was exuberant on the field and played with passion and his power stuck out back then as a young player, maybe a little smaller version of the current Jim Thome. His run in Cleveland. Transition to first baseman. DH. Turned into one of the better power hitters of his generation.”

In the same way that Thome had an impact on the field and in the clubhouse, Mauer still is having an impact. One way that he does that is providing a game ball after each Twins win. The ball doesn’t always go to the obvious choice. According to Molitor, “I think his biggest intent in getting up there is to make sure he recognizes all the little contributions. It’s not always about the two-run homer or the 7-inning shutout. It can be about a guy making a play or advancing a runner or battling with two strikes.”

After the Friday night game when Mauer passed Rod Carew on the Twins all-time hit list, Molitor addressed the team following the game. “We took a moment. Talked about the history of the organization, how far back it goes, and over that span of time, Joe has more hits than anyone wearing this uniform than anyone else except one guy. It speaks a lot.”

The Twins have stated publicly that they have not approached Mauer about a contract extension, and the Mauer side hasn’t reached out to them about his plans beyond 2018 when his contract ends and he can become a free agent.

Mauer continues to do so much around the community. You may hear often about the work he and his wife Maddie do with the Gillette’s Childrens Hospital, but we have probably all heard stories of things that Mauer has done in the community which have never been made public.

Mauer has been making an impact in the Twin Cities for a couple of decades. Jim Thome impacted this community for a couple of seasons. Both are Hall of Famers on and off the field.

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 06:20 AM

Well said, Seth.

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#3 jimmer


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Posted 26 August 2018 - 07:00 AM

Great Article Seth!

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#4 Kelly Vance

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 10:53 AM

Hooorraaaaahhhh!!!! We are lucky to have been fans who got to see these guys play.

I never knew about the game ball thing. That's leadership. 

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