Paul Molitor is one of the most recognized names in Milwaukee sports. His number four hangs forever in Miller Park as a reminder of his greatness. In this edition of Brewers Past and Present, we will look at the Hall of Fame career of one of the best hitters in not only Brewers’ history, but baseball history as well.
The Draft and the Minors
Paul Molitor was first drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 28th round of the 1974 amateur draft. However, he chose not to sign. He was later drafted by the Brewers with the third overall pick in the 1977 draft.
Molitor’s minor league career was short and sweet. He played in 64 games in 1977 with Class A Burlington. He hit .346/.457/.504 with eight home runs and 50 RBI. In addition, he also stole 14 bases and scored 52 runs. 1977 was the last time Molitor played in a minor league game until a rehab assignment in 1990 that lasted a whole one game. He was born for the Majors.
Molitor in Milwaukee: The First Eight Years
Paul Molitor played a total of 21 seasons in the Majors. He spent the first 15 of them with the Brewers. During his first eight seasons, he hit over .300 three times. He made a splash during his first season, hitting .273/.301/.372 with six home runs and 45 RBI. He also stole 30 bases that season en route to a second place finish in Rookie of the Year voting. In 1982, his fifth season, the Brewers made a run to the World Series. During that campaign, he hit .302/.366/.450 with 19 home runs and 71 RBI. He stole 41 bases and led the American League with 136 runs.
All told, Molitor made two All-Star teams in his first eight seasons with the Brewers. He missed all but 13 games of 1984 due to a gruesome injury. Many fans point to this instance as the time in which Molitor would become primarily a designated hitter. However, Molitor did not become a full-time DH until 1991.
Molitor in Milwaukee: The Last Seven Years
In Molitor’s last seven seasons in Milwaukee, he hit over .300 five times. In the prime of his career, Molitor was a perennial force in the Brewers’ lineup. He finished in the top 11 of the MVP vote four times and won two Silver Sluggers. In addition, he was named to three more All-Star teams.
His best season during this stretch is arguably his 1991 season. It was during this campaign that Molitor became a full-time DH, a move which undoubtedly extended his career. In ’91, Molitor hit .325/.399/.498 with 17 home runs and 75 RBI. Molitor stole 19 bases while leading the league with 13 triples, 216 hits, and 133 runs. He followed this season with another All-Star campaign in 1992, but chose not to resign with the Brewers when his contract expired. He had desired to remain with Milwaukee, but was frustrated with the front office. GM Sal Bando offered Molitor a ridiculously low deal, wanting to pay no more than $2 million for one year, and most of that money was in incentives. Molitor rejected the deal and signed a two-year $9 million deal with Toronto.
Molitor After Milwaukee: Toronto and Minnesota
Paul Molitor went on to play three seasons each in Toronto and Minnesota. He won two World Series rings with the Blue Jays and a World Series MVP. In his final six seasons, he hit .300 four times. Molitor recorded his 3000th career hit as a member of the Twins on September 16, 1996. He was the first player ever to get his 3000th hit with a triple. The Ignitor ended his career with a slash line of .306/.369/.448 with 234 home runs and 1,307 RBI. His 3,319 hits are ninth on the all-time list. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004 in his first year on the ballot. He became the second player to go in as a Brewer, following long-time teammate Robin Yount.
More Brewers Past and Present
- Justin Smoak
- Ben Sheets
- Bob Uecker
- Keston Hiura
- Josh Hader
- Ted Simmons
- Gorman Thomas
- Pete Vuckovich
- Rollie Fingers
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