Kaplan: Paul Molitor’s misspelled, misconstrued and misunderstood Hall Of Fame career

From SABR member Jim Kaplan at Seamheads.com on December 13, 2012:

[Paul] Molitor was a noted first-pitch swinger rather than a batter who worked the count, but as Jerry Remy, an appreciative opponent, noted, Molitor only swung at good first pitches. Asked if Molitor, in the 20th century, was a model for the taut, simplified 21st century batting style, Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan exclaimed, “You got that right!”

“One of my most memorable baseball experiences took place in 1992, when I stood right behind the batting cage in Milwaukee during batting practice and watched Molitor take his cuts,” Gabriel Schechter, a leading baseball researcher and writer, told me. “Not a single Molitor muscle twitched until the ball was right in front of the plate, when suddenly he’d pivot and smack a line drive somewhere. His feet barely turned; it was all hips and wrists. Fantastic.”


There was a telling moment midway through Molitor’s career.  It was August 26, 1987, a few days after his 31st birthday, and his hitting streak had reached 39 games to trail only Ty Cobb (40), George Sisler (41), Bill Dahlen (42), Pete Rose (44), Wee Willie Keeler (44) and Joe DiMaggio (56). The Brewers faced the Indians in Milwaukee’s Country Stadium. In the last of the 10th, neither the Indians nor the Brewers had a run, and Molitor didn’t have a hit. Cleveland reliever Doug Jones hit Rob Deer with a pitch. Mike Felder pinch-ran for him, and a groundout moved Felder to second. Dale Sveum was walked intentionally. As Rick Manning headed to the plate, Molitor, who was on deck, said, “Come on, get a hit.” Manning thought, “I’ll get an infield hit,” giving Molitor a chance to bat with runners on first and third. Instead, Manning singled past the infield. As Felder rounded third, Molitor raised his hands, telling Felder to score standing up. When he crossed the plate to end the game, the crowd sat stunned for a few seconds, and then booed Manning! But Molitor was running up the first-base line to congratulate him.

“Sorry,” Manning said.

“Sorry?” Molitor replied. Standing and clapping now, the crowd called Molitor out of the dugout for an ovation that visibly moved him. Only then did he allow himself to ponder what he had achieved.


Read the full article here: Paul Molitor’s Misspelled, Misconstrued And Misunderstood Hall Of Fame Career

Originally published: December 14, 2012. Last Updated: December 14, 2012.