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Twins surprise Mauer with retirement of No. 7

Minnesota icon will be eighth member of organization to receive honor
Special to MLB.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Joe Mauer sat in a small black chair at the field house named in his honor at Cretin-Derham Hall, the high school where Mauer's athletic achievements were first noticed.

Prior to a ceremony Tuesday to celebrate Mauer's retirement from baseball, the Twins star mingled among the crowd in attendance. Mauer's high school coach, Jim O'Neill, spoke to the assembled students, as did Tony Leseman, Mauer's friend since childhood and now the school's admissions director. Leseman told Mauer it would be a simple ceremony, like the many Twins winter caravans he participated in during his playing career.

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Joe Mauer sat in a small black chair at the field house named in his honor at Cretin-Derham Hall, the high school where Mauer's athletic achievements were first noticed.

Prior to a ceremony Tuesday to celebrate Mauer's retirement from baseball, the Twins star mingled among the crowd in attendance. Mauer's high school coach, Jim O'Neill, spoke to the assembled students, as did Tony Leseman, Mauer's friend since childhood and now the school's admissions director. Leseman told Mauer it would be a simple ceremony, like the many Twins winter caravans he participated in during his playing career.

Twins' all-time retired numbers

After Mauer took questions from students, Twins legends Tom Kelly, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek and Bert Blyleven entered the auditorium to surprise Mauer. Hrbek approached the podium and announced that the Twins will retire Mauer's No. 7 next summer.

"It's not every day that you have your favorite player growing up tell you you're going to go on the wall with him with the retired numbers," Mauer said. "That means a lot to me. Obviously, Bert and Tony and T.K. coming too, I'm still kind of in shock right now. Those guys helped me out so much, not only as a baseball player, but how to conduct yourself as a man and as a professional. Those guys mean a lot to me too."

In a ceremony at a to-be-determined home game next season, Mauer will become the eighth member of the Twins organization to have his number retired as either a manager or a player. He joins Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Oliva, Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Blyleven and Kelly.

Video: Joe Mauer's first and last Major League hits

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, in a taped announcement, also proclaimed that the day would forever be known as Joe Mauer Day in the state.

In the same building he first signed with the hometown Twins as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 Draft -- and where he met his wife, Maddie -- Mauer's career had come full circle.

"I signed my contract in the old gym up there," Mauer said. "It doesn't seem that long ago, but it is 18 years. That's one of the things I wanted to say to these students. Things happen pretty fast and you want to enjoy the time that you have. And the opportunities that are in front of you, you try to take advantage of them when you can."

Mauer took advantage of every opportunity he had.

He was a three-sport star at Cretin-Derham Hall -- the Gatorade National Player of the Year in football his senior year and an All-State selection in basketball as a junior and senior. He tied a national high school baseball record with a home run in seven consecutive games. He had committed to play football at Florida State before deciding on a career in baseball.

Mauer finished last season ranking first on the Twins' all-time list in doubles (428) and times on base (3,087). He is second in Twins history in games played (1,858) and hits (2,123), and fifth in RBIs (923).

Video: DET@MIN: Mauer becomes Twins' all-time on-base leader

And now Mauer's No. 7 will be hanging inside Target Field in the community he still calls home.

"Being able to put on the Twins' uniform, being at home, like I said before, meant more to me than you'll know," Mauer said. "Now, when I take my kids to the game and see No. 7 up there, it will probably put a smile on my face every time I see it. I'm excited for that."

Mauer didn't have to wait long in retirement for his number to join him. The Twins moved swiftly to recognize the local son.

"If I were Joe, I would think, 'They might retire my number someday,'" team owner Jim Pohlad said. "But I don't know if he would have thought it would be announced today. It's a great thing."

Video: Mauer details how he wants to be remembered

Mauer is enjoying being home with his wife and three kids, the third of which was born a few days after his retirement announcement. He's also gotten back to playing basketball, joining a group that plays pickup games at Cretin-Derham Hall on Sundays.

"It's been fun to be a full-time dad and help out at home as much as I can," Mauer said. "I was saying, it kind of almost feels like a regular offseason. I know there might be some different emotions and different feelings come Spring Training, but I'm definitely in a good place and feeling good about it."

Brian Hall is a contributor to MLB.com.

Minnesota Twins, Joe Mauer