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Magic with the Mauers

  

By Gordy Jones

 

On a cold and rainy morning last week, (weren’t they all?), some warm and generous golfers gathered to raise money for the Friends of St. Paul, a group that improves the very same ball fields where Joe Mauer played as a kid. The event was called the Mauer Family Diamonds in the Rough Golf Classic, and the hosts were none other than Joe Mauer and his family. This included his Grandpa Jake, who had major surgery on a lung in March, and had told me that it hurt to swing the club…but he wouldn’t miss this for the world. Grandpa rode with Joe for most of the tournament, and with his unpredictable and funny statements and antics, he had Joe smiling and laughing all day.

Also in Joe’s group were his mom and dad, Teresa and Jake. Like Grandpa Jake, Dad Jake also has a mischievous personality, just a bit more under control. His wife Teresa is fun, but very sensible — she kind of balances out the couple’s personalities.

Joe’s brother Bill, owner of Mauer Chevrolet, took a rare day off to play golf along with his wife, Stephanie. Bill is a lot like Joe: competitive, but quiet. He doesn’t say much, but what he does say is meaningful. He always wears a smile, and you can tell he also seems to enjoy the sometimes-crazy comments made by the two older Jakes.

Brother Jake couldn’t attend because he is managing the Twins’ minor-league club in Fort Myers, but his wife, Rachel, attended the dinner.

This year Joe invited a special guest to play golf in his group — Ira Stahlberger from his marketing company, IMG. Ira is “big time,” as he works with some of the most famous people in the nation, and puts them into commercials as he signs them to endorsement deals. He just signed Joe to a new Nike contract, and you can also watch for Joe and his mom to be in some commercials for Kemps dairy products soon. But when this professional businessman got out on the course with this delightful Mauer family, you could see the stress disappear from Ira’s face and his boyish grin come out…you could tell he was truly enjoying himself, despite the wind and the rain.

With this mesh of personalities, there was kindness, humor, generosity, love, strength, and competitiveness floating around. It doesn’t matter that Joe is an MVP ballplayer for the Twins — he could be an accountant, for all that it mattered — and you’d still be drawn into this group by their magnetic personalities.

Several Mauer cousins were in other foursomes, playing golf for the cause. You can usually pick them out because of their competitive riffing. They are always challenging one another, making side bets, but yet encouraging and sticking up for each other. It’s kind of a Mauer family trait.

Several of Joe’s teammates gave up their days off to golf and have some fun. Nick Punto, who has Popeye-sized forearms, and who can drive the ball a mile, was there along with relief pitcher Matt Guerrier, who has a golf swing like a pro. Catcher Drew Butera, pitcher Brian Duensing, and strength and conditioning coach Perry Castellno were there, too. The guys laughed and joked all day — never a complaint about the weather; just having fun. When they would get to a tee box with a car on display from Mauer Chevy, they would jump in to warm up, and lock the doors on each other as they laughed and let the little boy side of them show.

There wasn’t much talk of baseball amongst the players that day…it was their day off, and golf was the topic. I did have the opportunity to congratulate Brian Duensing about his recent success. I reminded him of a lunch we had in spring of ’09. I was looking at his minor-league stats when he began telling me that he had pitched better than it appeared on paper. He said that he was throwing the ball better all of the time, and if he would get a chance to prove it in the majors, he’d do so. I reminded him of his prediction and told him it had come true. He smiled and said: “Yes, I’m throwing the ball well…the entire staff is throwing well. I feel that we have such a great team, this could be the year we go all of the way!”

Other highlights included magic performed by Hondo the Magician. Hondo strolled as he did tricks for golf and baseball fans, both sports being close to him. Hondo played amateur ball with both Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor, and has performed magic on the PGA Tour. Hondo is a member of the Friends of St. Paul, and he was the live auctioneer at the dinner.

The auctions were successful, the tournament was sold out, and Friends of St. Paul raised some cash. Every participant in any capacity, whether it was a volunteer, golfer, or sponsor, walked away with plenty of lasting memories.

And as the Mauer group came off of the course, I asked Joe’s dad, Jake, if he felt slighted because his wife is getting all of the commercial deals with Joe. “No, I love Kemps ice cream, but I have something else in mind.” Then he looked towards the group, laughed, and shouted: “Hey, Ira! Do you think you can get me a Miller Lite deal?”

 

Check out Gordy’s book at http://www.baseballguy.org. Gordy can be reached at gejones1@aol.com.