Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Joe’s no longer sloppy schmos

What's in a name? For many, the object of life is to make a name for yourself, to define who you are as a person in professional terms and to be recognized for your successes. For others, it's innate. They are destined to succeed by their name alone. That name is Joe, more generally known as Average Joe.

Average Joe has long been described as the common man, the man who has a penchant for anonymity.

Anyway you look at it, Average Joes, it seems, are destined for greatness. Take for instance the movie "Dodgeball." Behind a bunch of no-namers and a washed-up former ADAA All-Star named Patches, Average Joe's Gymnasium took home a cash prize of $50,000 and won over the hearts of millions of fans, including Lance Armstrong, who "just can't get enough of ESPN 8, The Ocho."


Not to say that there's anything wrong with other names, it's just that Average Joe — although his humble tendency is to duck behind the spotlight even when he becomes a media darling — consistently comes out on top.

Probably the Average Joe who strikes closest to home is Wisconsin's former left tackle, Mr. Thomas.

Not one to brush off an interview, yet preferring to go fishing instead of face the New York media, Thomas is a normal guy, a class act family man. He is a man who shows no weakness but can still cry when someone he cares about passes. He is a man who still admits there is much work to be done. And he is a man who happens to possess a wealth of talent that earned him a multimillion-dollar deal as the No. 3 overall pick in this past weekend's NFL Draft.

He was great at UW, and now he's on his way in the NFL.

So talented that he perhaps passed up a chance at an NFL career, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer was blessed with natural abilities from the outset.

As a child, Mauer was advanced beyond his years. He was so good, in fact, that he played sports with kids several grades older to make the game fairer for the opposition. Even then, he excelled.

Not much changed in high school, where he was a tri-sport athlete, lettering in baseball, basketball and football.

He hit .605 his senior year and homered in seven consecutive games in baseball, averaged more than 20 points per game in basketball and led his team to the state championship in football.

His talent with the pigskin had Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden salivating so much that, even after Mauer decided to pursue a career in baseball, the NCAA football coaching legend reserved a scholarship for Mauer, in case he decided to change his mind. Many NFL experts believed that Mauer would have won a Heisman Trophy and been a top-five draft pick had he chosen that route.

Instead, he took a path around the bases.

First pick of the 2001 Amateur Draft at 18, Major League baseball player at 20, hometown hero at 21 and American League batting champ at 23 — hardly the laurels of an average athlete either. But then again, he isn't.

Yet when the media grovels at Mauer's feet, the 24-year-old phenom shyly smiles. About the only thing he doesn't shy away from is deflecting praise.

Already one of the game's best players in just his third full season, the best is yet to come, it seems, for Minnesota's favorite man with a set of bushy sideburns, Average Joe.

Raised a fisherman to a lower-class Sicilian family, Joe DiMaggio was an average Italian-American who kept his personal life as secretive as he could.

His undeniable propensity to excel on the field changed all that.

Prior to his career with the New York Yankees, DiMaggio put together a 61-game hitting streak with the San Francisco Seals to help him finish the season at a .398 clip. In addition to the high average, DiMaggio had pop. He blasted 34 bombs and drove in 154 runners to cement himself as the Pacific League's MVP that year.

In 13 seasons with the Yankees, DiMaggio hit .325 to go with 361 homers, 1537 RBIs and just 369 strikeouts. He was an All-Star every single year and a three-time MVP. Remembered most of all for his 56-game hitting streak in 1941, a record that is believed to be untouchable, DiMaggio lambasted opposing teams with his abilities to do it all — field, throw, hit, hit for power and run the bases — and do it seemingly flawlessly. Baseball greats such as Ted Williams and Stan Musial said DiMaggio was the best they'd ever seen. He simply never made a mistake. The baseball world agreed, naming him the Greatest Living Player in a 1969 poll.

Beyond the numbers, DiMaggio knew how to win. During his career, he led the Bronx Bombers to nine World Series rings, 10 pennants and numerous come-from-behind victories.

Although he played second fiddle to Isaiah Thomas, Pistons guard Joe Dumars could be counted on to carry the load as well. Not of the same caliber as these other Joes in terms of talent and numbers, Dumars still managed to earn NBA Finals MVP honors during the Pistons' 1989 championship run. Since his playing days, he's done a fantastic job behind the scenes as Detroit's president of basketball operations.

In a rags-to-riches story, Joe Frazier went from being poor to unanimously defeating the great Muhammad Ali in 1971 in what has been considered one of the greatest bouts of all time.

Joe Sakic is among the all-time leader in points scored, and he has done so under the radar.

Fellow NHL All-Star Joe Thornton has taken a pass-first mentality to give his teammates opportunities for the limelight en route to winning MVP honors in 2005-06 and recording 90-plus assists in each of the past two years.

Then there's Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Joe Paterno, Joe Torre, Joe Morgan, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Joe Carter — the list goes on.

So if you want a great athlete who prefers to keep a low profile, but also has unmatched talent in any or all facets of the sports world, name your kid Joe. He may be average in name, but his legacy will reverberate through the ages.

Kevin is a junior double-majoring in journalism and economics. He can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *