Jake Mauer, progenitor of St. Paul baseball royalty, has died
The father of former Twins great Joe Mauer died from heart complications at age 66
Donald Charles “Jake” Mauer Jr., father to a trio of Twins players and coaches that includes 2009 American League MVP Joe Mauer, died Tuesday of heart complications at age 66 at home in Braham, Minnesota.
The news was confirmed by a family source.
Joe, Billy and Jake Mauer all attended Cretin-Derham Hall High School and signed baseball contracts with the Minnesota Twins. The elder Jake and his wife, Teresa, have 10 grandchildren. The couple would have been married 45 years this year.
“The kids and Teresa were everything to him,” said Jim O’Neill, who coached the couple’s children at Cretin-Derham Hall. “It’s the greatest story, really, and these people lived it. They didn’t always have a lot but they were always happy. He poured everything into those kids.”
Joe Mauer played 15 years with the Twins, winning AL batting titles in 2006, 2008 and 2009. He won the AL Most Valuable Player Award in 2009 after putting together maybe the greatest year a major league catcher ever had — a .365 batting average, 28 home runs and 96 RBIs.
Jake, an infielder, played five seasons in the Twins organization after attending the University of St. Thomas, and then managed in the organization from 2008-17, finishing with a Southern League championship at Class AA Chattanooga. Billy, a pitcher who attended Concordia, played in the Twins system from 2003 to 2005.
The apples didn’t fall far from the tree, O’Neill said.
“We played in the same circles in St. Paul when we were kids,” he said. “I played against him in elementary school when I was at (St.) Columba and he was at St. James, and they always had this big kid who was a really big hitter. He wasn’t much of a runner, but he was definitely a big hitter.”
“All the credit for their swings and strong arms,” O’Neill continued, “goes to him.”
Jake Jr. and Theresa raised their kids in the Lexington Avenue house of Jake Sr., who would often watch the kids while the parents worked. Jake Jr. was a trophy engraver who spent his weekends coaching his sons. They were so successful that John Tauer, the men’s basketball coach and a psychology professor at the University of St. Thomas, wrote an entire chapter about the couple in his 2015 book, “Why Less Is More for WOSPs (Well-Intentioned, Overinvolved Sports Parents).”
“They were a very value-driven family,” Tauer said. “I think what stood out to me was the simplicity of the way they parented, and I mean that in the most complimentary way.”
Tauer is another St. Paul native who played baseball at Cretin-Derham Hall. He said he was drawn to Jake and Teresa because their sons were so well-grounded despite their athletic success — all three were multisport athletes for the Raiders.
“I knew Billy and Jake as humble, down-to-earth people, and although Joe had been MVP and won batting titles, yet was exactly the same. That’s a successful parent,” Tauer said. “I have the utmost respect for their family. All three of those boys had the same demeanor and disposition, and that was what led me to propose to Teresa that we work on that chapter of the book.”
Jake Jr. invented a pitching machine that allowed his sons to swing all year round in the garage, which became the Quickswing Batting Training Aid.
“All the credit for their swings and strong arms go to their father,” O’Neill said. “He had moxie, and his ingenuity led to the Quick Swing contraption he put in the garage.”
The Mauers were the kind of sports family, O’Neill said, that one doesn’t see much anymore.
“They never went to camps,” he said. “(Jake Jr.) coached them in the summer, just a group of neighborhood kids. They’d play weekend tournaments, but during the week it was Wiffle Ball and pickup games down at the park. They were starting from scratch.”
And Jake Jr., O’Neill said, never interfered with the kids’ high school teams — even when Joe wasn’t promoted to the varsity squad as a freshman.
“He just said, ‘Joe will play with his buddies on the freshman team and everything will be OK,’ ” O’Neill said. “Joe was obviously good enough to play with us on the varsity, and if we needed him we could get him, but Jake was so supportive. I’m sure he would say things at home, but he never interfered with us coaching.”
There will be a wake on Tuesday at Mueller Bies Funeral Home in Roseville from 4 to 8 p.m. A funeral will be Wednesday at St. Odilia Catholic Church in Shoreview at 11 a.m. A visitation will be at 10 a.m.
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