CATCHER, MINNESOTA TWINS
It was six years
ago that Joe Mauer, a 17-year-old high school catcher and can't-miss prospect
who would eventually be hailed as the best young major league backstop in
decades, appeared in FACES IN THE CROWD. For football. Although there was no
room to mention it in a 45-word write-up, Mauer was then at a crossroads,
pondering which sport to give up and which to pursue. A few months after the
item appeared, Mauer, one of the most hotly recruited quarterbacks in the
country, signed a letter of intent to play football at Florida State. Four
months after that, the Twins selected him No. 1 overall in baseball's amateur
draft, ahead of USC phenom Mark Prior. "I had always wanted to play
baseball [professionally], but football was definitely in play at the time I
was in SI," Mauer recalls. "I didn't really make the final decision on
my future until I had signed my contract with the Twins the next
baseball because it was closer to his heart, and his decision has, one could
say, worked out for him. A big leaguer since 2004, Mauer had a breakthrough '06
season in which he became the first American League catcher to win the batting
title (.347) and earned his first All-Star Game appearance. He finished sixth
in voting for the AL MVP award. His talent, combined with his humility and good
looks, have made him the kind of hometown hero who seemed to have become
career, by contrast, ended on a sad note: The year his FACES item appeared, his
Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders lost to the Eden Prairie Eagles 24--14 in the state
championship game. "I wish it would have finished differently," Mauer
says. He has no regrets about the choice he made, Mauer says, but if he ever
did want to take another stab at gridiron glory, coach Bobby Bowden wants him
to know that there's still a scholarship waiting at Florida State.
Dec. 25, 2000
ST. PAUL > FOOTBALL
Joe, a senior quarterback at Cretin-Derham Hall, was named Gatorade National
High School Football Player of the Year after passing for 3,022 yards and 41
touchdowns this season. In the regional finals against Eagan High, he threw for
seven TDs, tying the state single-game record.
GUARD, NEW JERSEY NETS
A framed copy of
Vince Carter's FACES IN THE CROWD item hangs in coach Charles Brinkerhoff's
office at Mainland High. Written across it are the words, "To Coach Brink,
thanks for everything." The text next to Carter's youthful face
commemorates two strong games, but for coach and player it means more.
"Hey, it was a cool thing," says Carter. "Nowadays high school kids
are in magazines pretty regularly, but back then to see me, a kid from central
Florida in there? That was something else."
Vince on the radar," says Brinkerhoff. "It reinforced that he was an
athlete and a person worth that type of attention." Carter became an
All-America at North Carolina, a first-round draft pick, a seven-time NBA
All-Star, and he remains one of the most electrifying players in the game.
cherishes the honor because it gave Carter recognition at a time and in a place
where football stars reigned supreme, and for another reason: "We won the
state championship that year," says the coach.