Joe Mauer, the kid from St. Paul, is officially a first ballot Hall of Famer

The kid from St. Paul will live forever in Cooperstown.
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On April 5, 2004, Joe Mauer stepped out of the Minnesota Twins dugout for the first time in his career.

On January 23, 2024, he stepped into baseball immortality.

Mauer was officially elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday, earning well over the 75 percent needed for induction and he did on his first try. Getting into Cooperstown was validation enough for the Twins legend, but to do so on the first ballot makes it both even more incredible and perfectly fitting.

He was drafted No. 1 overall by Minnesota back in 2001, but carried the weight of not only the future of the franchise but the entire state on his shoulders. It's not bias or hyperbole to say Mauer was baseball LeBron James, as he was born and raised in St. Paul and made a name for himself as a multi-sport athlete while racking up accolades in high school.

At every opportunity to leave he chose to stay. Florida State came calling with a football scholarship but he chose to begin his career with the Twins instead, and when he would have become of the most heralded free agents of the decade he opted to re-sign on a team-friendly deal ahead of time.

He easily could have left for a record-breaking contract to play somewhere else, or possibly pursue a career in a different sport, but Mauer chose Minnesota every single time. It's why he's both adored for his career but occupies rarified hometown mythological space shared by the likes of Prince and Paul Bunyan.

Mauer lives up to the billing too.

Joe Mauer went from hometown hero to Cooperstown

It's impossible to overstate just how much Mauer not only lived up to the insane levels of hype around him but exceeded them. He was a high school baseball legend, having struck out only once in his entire amatuer career, and built on that to collect an entire vault of accolades during his pro career.

Mauer won five Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves, went to six All-Star Games, and won three batting titles and polished it off with an AL MVP. His .9951 fielding percentage ranks in the Top 10 all-time among catchers, collected over 2,000 hits and his 55.2 career WAR that ranks seventh among catchers all-time.

Max Scherzer, who will be remembered as one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation, needed to create a new pitch -- his cut fastball -- in order to try and strike Mauer out.

His 2009 season will go down as one of the best ever. Mauer led the league in batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, while cleanly sweeping awards season with a Gold Glove, AL batting title, and the AL MVP. He went to the All-Star Game, competed in the Home Run Derby, and led the American League in OPS and OPS+.

There are so many ways to measure his MVP season, but consider this: Mauer flew out to right field exactly twice in 523 at bats in 2009.

It should come as no surprise that his number was retired and hoisted onto the left field wall less than a year after he finished his career, and he was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2023.

As if he needed a cherry on top of all that he accomplished, the fact that he spent his entire 15-year career with the team he grew up rooting for is the type of baseball romanticism tailor-made for a Ken Burns documentary.

Everything about what Mauer did -- from the stats to the lore -- pointed toward his story ending in Cooperstown. Reaching the Hall of Fame is the culimination of an iconic career, and truly one of the greatest moments in Twins franchise history.

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