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Mauer thrilled to be No. 1

11/21/2003 - Joe Mauer

ST. PAUL -- Joe Mauer and the Minnesota Twins had been
watching each other for years, and the baseball draft finally
brought them together.

The Twins used the No. 1 pick in Tuesday's draft to select the
left-handed hitting catcher who grew up a Twins fan, lives just 8
miles from the Metrodome and plays at Cretin-Derham Hall High
School in St. Paul, Minn.

"This is a natural for the Minnesota Twins," general manager
Terry Ryan said. "He just happens to be from St. Paul the year
we're picking No. 1."

Minnesota scouting director Mike Radcliff estimated he has seen
Mauer play more than 100 times during his high school career.

"Without a doubt, Joe is the best high school athlete in the
country," Radcliff said. "Joe's talent, tools and exceptional
makeup give him the chance to be an impact major league player."

About 100 classmates attended Mauer's news conference held at
his high school gymnasium, where he earned a reputation as possibly
the best all-around athlete at a school that produced Paul Molitor
and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.

"This is kind of a fairy tale," Mauer said. "This whole high
school career has been a fairy tale."

Mauer led Cretin-Derham Hall to back-to-back state championships
in football, won three national football player of the year honors
and has accepted a scholarship offer to play quarterback at Florida
State. He also averaged nearly 20 points a game for the basketball
team.

Yet, baseball is probably his best sport.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Mauer tied a national record this season
by hitting homers in seven consecutive games. He batted .567 in 208
at-bats during his career, striking out just once. He won a gold
medal with the Team USA Junior National Team at the world
tournament in Taiwan in 1999 and was selected best hitter at the
world tournament in Panama last summer.

Ryan said the Twins decided to make Mauer their No. 1 pick three
days ago, though they kept the news a secret to Mauer and his
family. They had reached an impasse in negotiations with Southern
California pitcher Mark Prior.

"Left-handed hitting catchers are tough to come by," Ryan
said. "He's a left-handed hitting catcher with lots of size."

Friends, family and teammates gathered at the Mauer home Tuesday
morning. Joe slept in fairly late while others were buzzing in
anticipation.

"Sometimes I wonder if he has a pulse going," said Mauer's
mother, Teresa. "Nothing rattles that guy."

A family friend called the Mauers first, having discovered on
the Internet that the Twins had selected Mauer. The official call
came soon after.

"My mom came into the living room and said, 'They took him!"'
said Joe's brother, Jake.

Teammates high-fived each other. There was a long, emotional hug
between Joe and his father, Jake Sr.

"We were all crying," Joe Mauer said. "It was an unbelievable
feeling."

Ryan said the Twins will delay their negotiations with Mauer
until Cretin-Derham Hall's season is completed. One of the few
things he has yet to win in his career is a Minnesota state
baseball title.

Mauer declined to speculate whether he might play football at
Florida State rather than sign with the Twins.

"Right now, I just want to enjoy this," he said.