Mauer started and ended his career in Cooperstown

Written by: Aidan Shephard

Joe Mauer’s journey to Cooperstown saw its conclusion in 2024. But 20 years prior, he was a rookie getting the opportunity to play at the home of baseball.

On June 14, 2004, the Twins met the Braves at Doubleday Field to play the annual Hall of Fame Game. Featuring future Hall of Fame inductees such as Chipper Jones and John Smoltz, both teams also promoted players from the minor leagues to showcase their skills to the almost 10,000-person crowd.

Joe Mauer in left-handed swing at 2004 Hall of Fame Game
Joe Mauer takes a swing at the Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field on June 14, 2004. Twenty years before his Hall of Fame election, Mauer was a rookie playing in Cooperstown. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

 

Mauer, only debuting with Minnesota two months prior, entered the league with high expectations after being selected first overall in the 2001 MLB Draft.

“I followed Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett and all those guys,” Mauer, a native of St. Paul., Minn., told the Associated Press after being drafted by the Twins. “This is kind of a fairy tale. Right now, I just want to enjoy this.”

Mauer had missed the entire month of May that season due to a knee injury but would return in June, entering the Hall of Fame Game with a .323 batting average for the season.

While the Twins would fall to the Braves 10-7 with Mauer going 0-for-4, fans would get one of their first glimpses at a future MVP and three-time batting champion.

Despite suffering another knee injury in July that would ultimately put an end to his rookie season, Mauer had already proven that he was ready for the major leagues. Mauer would go on to become one of the greatest offensive catchers the game has ever seen, being the only catcher in American League history to win a batting title while also leading the position across all major leagues with three in total.

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2024 by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Mauer will be joined by Adrian Beltré, Todd Helton and Jim Leyland on July 21 at the Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown.


Aidan Shephard is an intern in the Jim Murray Sports Communications Scholars Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

HALL OF FAME WEEKEND 2024

The eyes of the baseball world will be focused on Cooperstown July 19 - 22, with the legends of the game in town to see history unfold during Hall of Fame Weekend.

RELATED STORIES

2004 Hall of Fame Game

The Braves and Twins met at Doubleday Field to in the 58th Hall of Fame Game.

Beltré, Helton, Mauer savor Hall call

A trio of legendary baseball stars who shined brightest in the early years of the 21st century – third baseman Adrian Beltré, first baseman Todd Helton and catcher Joe Mauer – have now been added to the game’s all-time roster in Cooperstown.

Hall of Fame Game History

Generations of the game's greats have played in Cooperstown.

RELATED STORIES

2004 Hall of Fame Game

The Braves and Twins met at Doubleday Field to in the 58th Hall of Fame Game.

Beltré, Helton, Mauer savor Hall call

A trio of legendary baseball stars who shined brightest in the early years of the 21st century – third baseman Adrian Beltré, first baseman Todd Helton and catcher Joe Mauer – have now been added to the game’s all-time roster in Cooperstown.

Hall of Fame Game History

Generations of the game's greats have played in Cooperstown.