7 best moments from Joe Mauer’s Hall of Fame career

A career well-spent, all in Minnesota.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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No. 4: Joe Mauer gets his 2,000th career hit in front of the hometown crowd, April 12, 2018

With Lucas Giolito and Aaron Bummer pitching for the rival White Sox, Mauer picked up hits Nos. 1,999 and 2,000 in front of an ecstatic home crowd in Minneapolis on a Thursday night in April 2018. He drove in three runs on those two hits, first in the bottom of the third and then bottom of the seventh, and enjoyed a standing ovation and curtain call before the Twins went on to win handily, 4-0, thanks to Mauer's three RBI.

By the time he retired at the end of that season, he'd collected 2,123 hits, 923 RBI, and a career batting line of .306/.388/.439 over a 15-year span. Of Twins players with 1,500+ plate appearances for the team, Mauer falls at the top of multiple leaderboards in offensive categories — third in bWAR, sixth in OBP, fourth in hits, and so on — only behind the likes of fellow Hall of Famers Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, and Sam Rice.

- Stebbins

No. 3: Twins retire Joe Mauer's No. 7, June 15, 2019

The season after Mauer retired, the Twins announced that they would be retiring his No. 7, making him the eighth Twin to receive such an honor. June 15 became "Joe Mauer Day" for the club, and in a ceremony attended by a packed crowd at Target Field, he was honored by former teammates, former opponents, team executives, and members of the front office ahead of a home game against the Royals, which the Twins would go on to win 5-4.

In an emotional speech, Mauer detailed the origins of his love for the game and reminded fans why he's so beloved in Minnesota, not only as a homegrown, career Twin, but a true sports hero. He received a standing ovation from the crowd, as well as the home plate used in his final game as a Twin as a gift from the club.

- Stebbins

No. 2: Joe Mauer makes his MLB debut, April 5, 2004

Mauer was born in St. Paul and was claimed by the Twins as the first overall pick in the 2001 draft after turning down an offer to play college football at Florida State. He remained one of the Twins' top prospects through three years in the minors before making his major league debut at the beginning of April in 2004. Mauer debuted at the eighth spot in the lineup against Cleveland, walked twice, picked up two hits, and represented two runs in the Twins' 7-4 victory that night.

It was a thrilling start to a long career with his hometown team, which endeared fans to him immediately and set a precedent for his performance across his 15 years with the Twins. He never explored free agency, instead signing an eight-year extension with Minnesota that saw him through the end of his career. During that tenure, he collected multiple MLB-wide records (including two set in 2009, which we'll get to in a second), over 2,000 hits, and the 24th-highest fWAR of all players in the 21st century.

- Stebbins