Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Joe Mauer in the 1960s Happy #NationalJoeDay
The Senators' final year in D.C. came and went, but not without a bang. The rumors swirling about the Griffith's imminent departure did not have an affect on the bat of young slugger Joe Mauer, now in his 5th full season. The 26 year old has already done the unthinkable- winning a batting title from behind the plate. In 1960, Joe made it three batting titles in four seasons! The Senators acquired young catcher Earl Battey (and Don Mincher) in a head scratcher from Chicago in exchange for veteran slugger Roy Sievers. Battey was admirable filling in for Mauer behind the plate in a pinch, but the talented backstop finds himself in a familiar situation watching another player at the top of his manager's lineup card. Battey's time may have to come with yet another Team, as Joe Mauer wins an MVP in 1960. Fan Favorite Yankee Bombers Maris and Mantle split the votes on Broadway, paving the way to Joe's big win.
1961: The Senators are on the move! Mauer finds himself feeling right at home in Bloomington, MN, just a few miles from his childhood home in Saint Paul. He speaks fondly of attending minor league games in the 50s as a youth, pitting the Minneapolis Millers against his hometown Saint Paul Saints in a "Minnesota Nice" rivalry. The newly named Twins get their moniker for Joe's hometown and its neighboring "Twin" City of Minneapolis. Mauer again tops the .300 mark, and for the third straight season he wins a silver slugger and a gold glove, the new awards that seem to have been crafted with Mauer's unique blend of skills in mind. Mauer was also the starting catcher on the 1961 AL All-Star team.
1962: Mauer on the Mend. The position where Joe Mauer plys his trade is not for the faint of heart. A lingering issue with his legs early in the season derailed what promised to be another typical Mauer season of excellence. Earl Battey finally gets his chance to shine and earns his first Gold Glove, carrying the torch for the Minnesota franchise, along with the fine fielding feline fireballer pitcher Jim Kaat.
1963: Mind over Mauer. Joe's patience prevails, and he returns after a tough season to nearly lead the league in on base percentage, finishing with a .416 mark, just two points behind Young Yaz in Boston, but well ahead of the rest of the pack. He returned again to the AL All-star squad, now for the 5th time. His teammate Bob Allison probably should have been league MVP, as he led the league in WAR (your kids are gonna love it), OPS, and runs scored.
1964: Mild Mannered Mauer. Not much fanfare, and another bite from the injury bug threatened to ruin an up and coming Twins team. Veteran Joe Mauer hasn't hit for big power numbers, but his ability to get on base frequently and avoid strikeouts has certainly helped teammates' Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison's RBI totals. Young phenom Tony Oliva and Jimmie Hall provided plenty of pop as well for the Twins, seemingly poised to take the next step in the American League standings.
1965: Mauer Misses Mid-Summer Meet Up. The leg injuries and the more recent mysterious head injuries have taken their toll on Mauer, who has moved from behind the plate to first base. Previously a fixture at the All-Star Game each summer, Mauer is not selected to the squad despite the game being hosted in his home stadium. Mauer serves instead as a "Goodwill Ambassador" for the game and the people of the Twin Cities.
1966: Mauer, Mercurial. While playing in the most games in his major league career in the 1966 season, Mauer nonetheless seems to be battling old demons again. Despite the joy of reaching the World Series last year, the bittersweet memory of losing Game 7 to the Golden Arm of Sandy Koufax will linger for some time to come. Mauer's 1966 season was promising in some respects, though he had career highs in strikeouts, and career lows in batting average.
1967: Mauer Missing Missles. The hard contact that typified the prime years of Mauer's career come less often now, but there are still flashes of brilliance for the hometown hero. His rate stats and counting stats don't show it, and his second position of First Base is being usurped by other walking wounded players like Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva, but Mauer continued his march on history in 1967. His heroics late in the season were nearly enough to avert disaster, but the Red Sox still won those last games in August to seize the pennant from a shocked Twins club.
1968: reMade Mauer? A Renaissance of sorts happened for Mauer in 1968, eclipsing the .300 mark for the first time since 1964, and once again showing the patient approach at the plate that made him one of the Junior Circuits' finest hitters. Nearly missing the postseason in 1967 has sharpened the Twins' resolve, and while there is a bit of a competition to find playing time for the teams' lumbering giants, Mauer was still able to shine in his role as a team leader.
1969: Milestone Mauer. Joe reached 400 Doubles in 1968, and is poised to hit several marks in 1969. With a healthy season, Mauer can expect to crack his 2,000th career hit, score his 1,000th run, and reach 900 career runs batted in. We'll be very interested to watch his progress, and to see how his low key approach will mesh with new manager Billy Martin, a fiery and passionate former New York Yankee.