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What Happened to Paul Molitor and Where is “The Ignitor” Now?
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

Paul Molitor made a bit of history when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.

No, he wasn’t the first guy named “Paul” ever to be inducted. For the first time, the Hall of Fame deemed a player who had primarily served as a designated hitter worthy of their hallowed ranks.

How did Molitor get to that point? And what else has he been up to since his Major League Baseball career ended? It’s time to check in on the man they called “The Ignitor.”

He’s definitely the only person in the Hall of Fame with that nickname.

Early Life & MLB Career

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Paul Leo Molitor was born on August 22, 1956, in St. Paul, Minnesota. If you know the zodiac, then you know that means he’s a Leo. Rawr.

The St. Louis Cardinals drafted “Molly” as a high school pitcher in the 28th round of the 1974 free agent draft.

Instead of signing, Molitor decided to head to the University of Minnesota. He spent three years with the Golden Gophers as a shortstop and became an All-American.

Molitor was selected third overall in the 1977 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. After a brief stop in the minor leagues with the Burlington Bees, “Molly” joined the Brewers before the 1978 season.

Molitor joined the roster as an infielder, moving between shortstop and second baseman early on. He finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year race (the Brewers were in the AL at the time). Molitor made his first All-Star Game in 1980.

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In 1982, he moved to third base for what would be his breakout campaign. He hit double-digit home runs for the first time in his career with 19 while also racking up 41 stolen bases. The Brewers also made it to the World Series that season, where he and the Brew Crew faced off with the St. Louis Cardinals. In Game 1, he had a World Series record five hits.

Molitor was used as a DH more and more as injuries began to mount. That helped him put up a robust .353 batting average in 1987 with 41 doubles and 75 RBIs. He won his first of two back-to-back Silver Sluggers that year. In 1991, he began a streak of four-straight All-Star appearances, twice leading the American League in hits in that time.

However, he would also leave the Brewers to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in the middle of that run. In 1993, “The Ignitor” finished second in MVP voting and helped lead the Jays to the playoffs. Molitor slugged a nice, round 1.000 in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Toronto took home the title, and Molitor was named the World Series MVP.

During the 1996 offseason, Molitor headed back home. Technically, he headed to Minneapolis, but Minneapolis and St. Paul are the Twin Cities, so it still counts.

Though he turned 40 during his first season with the Minnesota Twins, Molitor still led the American League with 225 hits. He would play a couple more years, with his last season coming in 1997.

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Well, his last season as a player for the Twins, that is.

Twins Manager Paul Molitor

After retiring, the Twins hired Molitor to work as a bench coach. When you can have a guy around with 3,319 career hits, why wouldn’t you?

After a brief one-year stint with the Seattle Mariners as a hitting coach, “Molly” returned to the Twins to work as a base-running and fielding instructor in the minors. After several years of working in that capacity, the Twins announced that Molitor would be the new manager starting with the 2015 season.

The Twins lost 103 games in 2016, but in the 2017 season rebounded with 85 wins and a trip to the postseason. This turnaround was enough for Molitor to win the American League Manager of the Year.

In 2018, the Twins went 78-84, but general manager Thad Levine still decided to fire Molitor. They would replace him with Rocco Baldelli, who proceeded to win AL Manager of the Year in 2019, which probably helped make the Twins feel better about their decision.

Paul Molitor Now

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Minnesota’s front office has said it isn’t against bringing Molitor back in some capacity. For now, though, he hasn’t returned to work in baseball.

Maybe we will see him pop up during spring training for the Twins or another franchise soon. Certainly, a guy who made it to Cooperstown, New York, on the strength of his hitting can still teach a thing or two to modern hitters.

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Chris Morgan About the author:
Chris Morgan is a Michigan-based writer and a Detroit sports fan who has written about sports and pop culture for a variety of outlets, including a book about Mystery Science Theater 3000 and '90s Nickelodeon. He's happy to complain about the Lions with you anytime.
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