St. Paul to Cooperstown: A look at Molitor’s baseball career
From a Gopher to a Brewer
As a standout at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Molitor decided to stay home and play college baseball for the University of Minnesota. Molitor batted .350 over three seasons, adding 52 stolen bases, 18 home runs and 99 RBI. Those numbers led to Molitor being drafted in the first round by the Milwaukee Brewers as the third overall pick. The two teams that passed on him were the Chicago White Sox and Montreal Expos, who drafted Harold Baines and Bill Gullickson, respectively. Molitor spent just one year in the minors with Single-A Burlington before debuting with Milwaukee in 1978.
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Seven All-Star Games, one hit
During Molitor's 21 seasons in the majors, he was elected to seven All-Star Games -- five with Milwaukee, two as a Blue Jay. Yet despite his 3,319 career hits in his Hall of Fame career, Molitor logged just one hit in the seven midsummer classics he played in. That came in 1992 in San Diego during an All-Star Game in which Molitor played first base. His only hit came off Braves pitcher John Smoltz. The rest of his All-Star experiences were a bit unusual. In the 1985 All-Star Game, which was held in his home state of Minnesota, Molitor played center field for the first time in four years. In 1991, he entered as a pinch hitter but didn't technically have an at-bat -- he reached on catcher's interference. After retiring as a player, Molitor coached Team USA in the Futures Game during the All-Star break in 2002 in Milwaukee.
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A World Series champion
Molitor joined the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, one year after the Blue Jays won their first-ever World Series. Toronto finished 95-67 in the regular season in 1993 and won the American League East, thanks in part to Molitor's league-leading 211 hits. The Blue Jays headed back to the World Series, where they faced the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the second time Molitor played in a World Series, as he and the Brewers were on the losing end against St. Louis in 1982. Molitor thrived in the 1993 World Series, recording hits in all six games. He finished the series 12-for-24 (.500) with eight RBI, 10 runs and a stolen base to help lift Toronto to its second straight title. In doing so, Molitor was named the World Series' Most Valuable Player.
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After 18 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays, Molitor came home to Minnesota to finish his career with the Twins. In his first season with his hometown team, Molitor was approaching a milestone that almost always means a Hall of Fame induction: 3,000 career hits. It came near the end of the 1996 season for Molitor, who entered the year with 2,789 hits. Hit 3,000 came on Sept. 16, 1996 against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. In the seventh inning, the 40-year-old Molitor tripled to right field to notch the 3,000th hit of his career -- the 21st player in MLB history to achieve 3,000 hits and the first to reach the milestone on a triple. The Twins lost the game, 6-5, but Molitor's moment was the highlight for Minnesota. He wound up leading the league in hits that year with 225.
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A spot in Cooperstown
When a player reaches the 3,000-hit mark in his career, it's almost a guarantee that he'll one day be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Molitor was no exception to this unwritten rule. After retiring in 1998, Molitor was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot in 2004. Molitor received 85.2 percent of the votes, well over the 75 percent needed to be inducted. The only other player inducted with Molitor in the 2004 class was pitcher Dennis Eckersley, who garnered 83.2 percent of the votes. The duo became the 51st and 52nd players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Molitor went into Cooperstown as a third baseman and donned a Milwaukee Brewers cap on his plaque.