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August 2013 was a rough month in Twins Territory

The end of the M&M Boys

Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

This Saturday night, my Dad and I will be amongst an almost-certainly sold out Target Field crowd to witness Joe Mauer’s Twins Hall of Fame induction. A well-deserved honor for one of the greatest Minnesota Twins of all-time.

But ten years ago, both Mauer and pal Justin Morneau—who will likely be in the booth or down on the field Saturday—dealt with concussion-related injuries that ended the M&M era of Twins baseball. August of 2013 was a rough month in Twins Territory.

Coming into that fateful month, Joe Mauer was an elite-level catcher.

Mauer’s 2004-2013 rate stats: .328 BA, .405 OBP, .469 SLG, 135 OPS+

On the morning of August 19, 2013, he possessed a .324 batting average and though Target Field took away some of the cheap LF wall-scraper home runs that the Metrodome had afforded him, his overall batting profile remained largely unchanged.

84th MLB All-Star Game
2013 All Star Joe Mauer
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

But during that day’s contest against the New York Mets, Mauer took a seemingly innocuous foul ball off the catcher’s mask which proved to be anything but. Diagnosed with a concussion, Mauer would not play again in that ‘13 lost season—and his career, in fact, would never be the same.

After a puzzlingly poor 2014 season, it came to light that the once-sideburned superstar was still suffering from post-concussion symptoms such as dizziness and nausea.

Mauer’s 2014-2018 rate stats: .278 BA, .359 OBP, .388 SLG, 105 OPS+

Though the march of time might explain some of that drop-off, going from “all time superstar” to “league-average player” certainly was in large part due to brain business.

Ironically, Mauer could have—and likely did—confide in Justin Morneau, who had recently befallen a similar fate.

In the late 2000s, Mornie was one of baseball’s most prodigious sluggers.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins
Justin watches one leave the Dome’s playable surface
Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images

Morneau’s 2003-2010 rate stats: .286 BA, .358 OBP, .511 SLG, 128 OPS+

With an AL MVP Award and HR Derby Trophy on his mantle, Morneau’s best was perhaps still yet to come after a tremendous ‘10 start in the new Target Field digs. But after a knee to the noggin in Toronto concussed him, Morneau took an even larger dip than Mauer.

Morneau’s 2011-2013 rate stats: .256 BA, .320 OBP, .406 SLG, 100 OPS+

It got so bad that on August 31, 2013, Morneau was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for the ignominious return of Alex Presley and Duke Welker.

Tragically, the M&M boys were no more.

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates
I never got used to him in those duds
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Recently, I’ve found that some of my Metrodome memories have begun to fade. Not disappeared—never—but dulled from “specifics” to “experiences” that I’ve now had as many years following the team at Target Field as “the other place” (to quote Dick Bremer).

But I’m sure that when Mauer & Morneau strike a handshake/hug on Saturday evening, some SD highlights play on the HD board, and tributes are given, the good moments will come rushing back to me. Because for as frustrating as months like August 2013 were for both players, their legacies—much like my Dome recollections—far outshine their specifics.