1974 Cretin High School graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Paul Molitor was born in St. Paul on August 22, 1956.
The two-time All-American was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with the third overall pick in the 1977 draft behind Harold Baines and Bill Gullickson—who, incidentally, was born in Marshall, MN, but attended high school in Joliet, IL.
In 1978 Molitor finished runner-up to Detroit’s Lou Whitaker for American League Rookie of the Year.
Molitor set a World Series record with five hits in Game 1 of the 1982 Series, which the St. Louis Cardinals won in seven games. The Cards’ Albert Pujols tied that record, going 5-for-6 with three home runs, six RBI, and four runs scored in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series.
Molitor stole second, third, and home consecutively in the first inning versus Oakland on July 26, 1987. Forty-one players have pulled that off a total of 51 times in major league history—12 since 1940. The feat was accomplished four times in the ’80s, twice in the ’90s, once in the ’00s, and, most recently, by Dee Gordon in 2011 and Wil Myers in 2017. The Twins’ Rod Carew did so on May 18, 1969.
Molitor hit for the cycle versus the Twins at the Metrodome on May 15, 1991, tripling on Kevin Tapani’s first pitch of the game, and homering off Tapani to complete the cycle. Despite the 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, the Twins would salvage their ‘91 season.
In total he played 15 seasons for Milwaukee before signing with the Toronto Blue Jays following the ‘92 season. In ‘93, at age 37, Molitor had his first 100-RBI season, collecting 111. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 1993 World Series, hitting .500 (12-for-24) with two home runs and 10 runs scored, tying the record set by Reggie Jackson in 1977.
Molitor signed with the Twins for the 1996 season, when, at age 39, he hit .341, drove in 113 runs, and led the league with a career-high 225 hits. He tied Rod Carew and Tim Teufel’s team record with five runs scored on April 24, 1996 (later matched by Luis Rivas on June 4, 2002). Molitor tripled for his 3,000th hit on September 16, 1996—exactly three years to the date after 1969 St. Paul Central graduate and fellow University of Minnesota legend Dave Winfield collected his 3,000th off Molitor’s Hall of Fame classmate Dennis Eckersley.
The 40-year-old DH went 3-for-4 with two home runs, a double, three RBI, and three runs scored on July 25, 1997. On September 3-4, now 41 years old, he homered in back-to-back games.
He stole his 500th base on August 8, 1998, joining Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Eddie Collins, and Lou Brock in the 3,000 Hit/500 Stolen Base Club. Rickey Henderson joined the club in 2001, and Ichiro in 2016.
Molly retired following the ‘98 season. He was elected to the Hall of Fame on January 6, 2004 alongside legendary closer Dennis Eckersley—both on their first ballots. Molitor appeared on 85.2% of ballots, meaning a staggering 75 members of the BBWAA were complete ignoramuses.
Molitor was introduced as the 13th manager in Twins history on November 4, 2014. On November 14, 2017, just one year removed from the worst season in club history, Molitor became just the second Hall of Fame player to be named Manager of the Year. Baltimore’s Frank Robinson received the award in 1989.
Fun Fact: 1974 Cretin graduate Paul Molitor went 33-for-103 (.320) versus 1973 Highland Park grad Jack Morris, including a home run on September 20, 1987.