Molitor, Paul

▪ 1994

      Baseball fans everywhere learned what Milwaukee Brewers fans had long known when Paul Molitor won the Most Valuable Player award for the 1993 World Series. After playing in only one World Series in his 15 Milwaukee seasons, he helped the Toronto Blue Jays defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, four games to two, with 12 hits in 24 at-bats, a record-tying 10 runs scored, and 24 total bases, one shy of still another record.

      Molitor left Milwaukee in 1993 because the Brewers said that their small-market resources kept them from coming close to Toronto's offer of $13 million for three years. He batted .361 in the second half of the season to finish at .332 with career highs of 22 home runs and 111 runs batted in. With a record six consecutive hits, he helped the Blue Jays defeat the Chicago White Sox in the American League Championship Series.

      At 37, Molitor was the oldest player to drive in 100 runs for his first time and the oldest to exceed 20 home runs and stolen bases in one season. His 22 steals included a steal of home on the final day of the regular season. "He's 37, but he still does things like he's 25," teammate Roberto Alomar said. Molitor finished the season with a career batting average of .306 and career totals of 2,492 hits and 1,396 runs. Molitor hit with an unusually compact swing, waiting until the ball nearly reached him before he moved his hands or stepped forward. Even then, his stride was small, and he attacked the baseball with a quick stab of the bat.

      Paul Leo Molitor was born Aug. 22, 1956, in St. Paul, Minn. He was all-state in baseball and basketball in high school and all-conference in both sports at the University of Minnesota in 1976 and 1977. The third choice in the 1977 baseball draft, Molitor played only 64 minor league games before batting .273 with 30 stolen bases as a rookie second baseman for the Brewers in 1978, when The Sporting News and Baseball Digest named him American League Rookie of the Year.

      Because of injuries, only in two of the seasons from 1978 through 1987 did Molitor play in more than 140 games. Nevertheless, in one of those years, 1982, his 136 runs scored were the most since 1949, and he became the first batter ever with a 5-for-5 game in the World Series. From 1987 through 1993 Molitor batted over .300 six times in seven seasons. He ranked second in American League batting average in 1987 and 1993. In 1987 he hit safely in 39 consecutive games, the fifth longest major league streak since 1900, and recorded career highs of a .353 batting average and 45 stolen bases in 118 games. He most often played third base in 1982-89, but injuries had limited him after that primarily to designated hitter and, occasionally, first base. (KEVIN M. LAMB)

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Universalium. 2010.

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