Title in '91 holds mixed memories for Mauer
Minnesota native just missed attending dramatic Game 6
NEW YORK -- As a native of St. Paul, Minn., and a three-sport star at Cretin-Derham Hall High School, Joe Mauer, the present face of the Minnesota Twins, grew up as a huge fan of the organization.
But as Mauer pointed out in his Yankee Stadium news conference on Wednesday prior to the first game of the American League Division Series with the Yankees, not all of his memories were completely positive. The All-Star catcher talked about one particular incident, dealing with the thrilling 1991 World Series that Minnesota won in seven games over the Braves.
It seems that particular Twins championship had mixed memories for Mauer, because the 8-year-old fan got shut out of a chance to go to Game 6, which was won when Kirby Puckett hit a walk-off shot against Charlie Leibrandt.
"I was supposed to go to Game 6, and my aunt and uncle had four tickets, and I was the one left out," said Mauer with a laugh. "So I couldn't go to it. Hopefully, I can make up for that."
Mauer explained how the intent of his aunt and uncle when they procured the World Series tickets was to take his parents. But his parents felt as if young Joe needed "a babysitter or something" for the game, so they stayed home with him.
"So my aunt and uncle took my two older brothers, and I had to stay home and watch with my parents," Mauer said. "So I was -- I was pretty upset about that.
"Every once in a while, it comes up. I always say the only way they can make up for that is if I'm playing in a Game 6 and we win it. So, hopefully that will happen."
Before Minnesota can get to a Game 6 of the World Series or Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, for that matter, it has to get through the best team in baseball. Mauer clearly will be a key component in that success, coming off of his third AL batting title in four years.
Even this consummate competitor looked a bit worn out on Wednesday, although it was a happy sort of fatigue, after defeating the Tigers by a 6-5 margin in a nearly-five-hour, 12-inning contest to capture the AL Central in Tuesday's tiebreaker. Mauer admitted the excitement of the day hit the Twins some time during their flight to New York.
"Everybody was sleeping on the plane, to tell you the truth," Mauer said. "It was just an emotional, full day. It was a long game. I think it was about five hours or something like that.
"You know, the wives and the whole team, everybody was on the plane. Everybody was smiling. All of a sudden, we got in the air, and I think everybody was sleeping. I don't know what time we got here last night. I think it was around 3 [a.m. ET], or something like that. But the guys were ready to go."
Mauer didn't need a ticket to get into Yankee Stadium. His credentials speak for themselves. And if the Twins continue their improbable run to the 2009 World Series, Mauer said in tongue-in-cheek fashion that he might get even for the great 1991 oversight.
"I may not leave them tickets," said Mauer with a laugh. "Yes, I have a lot of good memories [of the 1991 World Series]. But [I have] a lot of bad memories, too. Good memory is that was probably one of my favorite postseasons, I guess -- World Series, being a Minnesota kid and growing up watching that team."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.