Late Tuesday afternoon, there were reports coming from the Minnesota Twins’ spring training complex in Fort Myers, FL that catcher Joe Mauer and designated hitter Jim Thome were stuck waiting outside a door that led to the players’ parking lot for over two hours. Were they trapped inside, or stuck in a crowd of autograph seekers?
No. They both were trying to let the other person leave the building first.
Many people in MLB have argued that both players are the nicest player in baseball. Most recently, ESPN The Magazine declared Mauer “America’s fan-friendliest athlete.” Former Twin Mike Redmond complimented Thome’s nice-guy attitude in 2007 after getting hit in the head that same day by a bat swung by Thome, resulting in stitches. When Mauer and Thome reached the door to the parking lot after practice, both of them were too polite to go through first.
“It was really odd to watch,” said Tim Porter, a fan from Red Wing, MN that is spending the entirety of spring training in Fort Myers. “They both kept gesturing towards the door and saying, ‘No, it’s okay, you go first,’ to each other. Even weirder was that they never got upset or stopped smiling the entire time.”
By the time reporters had arrived, Mauer and Thome had already been waiting by the door for a half-hour. Over the next ninety minutes, a total of 48 people were counted walking through the doors, with both players holding open the set of double doors for every single person.
While observing the two players, bits and pieces of Mauer and Thome’s conversation was overheard.
“I’m not that hungry, my dinner plans can wait,” Thome politely argued. “You probably have something far more important to do. Just go.”
Mauer retorted with a smile, “I’m just going to sit on my couch and watch some of the Olympics that I TiVo’d yesterday. I can watch it anytime.”
Finally, at around 6 pm, outfielder Delmon Young and pitcher Jose Mijares returned to the complex to physically push Mauer and Thome out the door and to their respective cars. Unfortunately, no one thought of the next obstacle preventing Mauer and Thome from going home: Who would leave the parking lot first?