Twins manager Paul Molitor takes break to support friends at Cooperstown
BOSTON - Induction into the Hall of Fame is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for a ballplayer, Paul Molitor said Friday, and Jack Morris and Alan Trammell mean a lot to him. So being there on his friends big day was always something that felt right to him.
But missing a couple of Twins games? Now that its here, that wont be easy.
Its very odd, Molitor said. Its an awkward thing to walk out for a day or two and just not be here. I know its in good hands, its just something I havent done.
The Twins manager will depart Saturday morning for Cooperstown, N.Y., about a 4andfrac12;-hour drive from Boston, in order to be on the dais with his fellow Hall of Famers during Sundays ceremonies. He considered remaining for Saturday nights game in Fenway Park, but that would have meant arriving around 4 a.m.
When I talked to [Twins President] Dave St. Peter about that option, he was pretty adamant to say, You dont want to try to endure that and see how you come out on the back end of it come Monday, Molitor said. As well as the fact that they want me to be able to at least enjoy a little bit of the time there, which will come down to about 30 hours, in and out.
Molitor didnt announce his planned departure to the players, he said, but most of them know anyway. Theyve been kind of kidding me about it this week, he said.
Bench coach Derek Shelton will be in charge of the team during Molitors excused absence. A former minor league catcher in his first season with the Twins, Shelton managed the Yankees Gulf Coast League rookie team in 2000-01, and the Class A Staten Island Yankees in 2002 before working as a coach with the Indians, Rays and Blue Jays.
So hes no rookie at this. But just in case, Molitor said, weve been talking about it this week. Some lineups and some things we have in place for the next couple of days.
Molitor has known Morris since they played ball together on the playgrounds of St. Paul, he said, yet their friendship has probably grown more since we retired than during the time we had as teammates. [Hes] just a guy that I have a lot of respect for, a guy that Ive been pulling for, in terms of this particular honor for a long time.
Molitor hit .320 against his fellow Minnesotan during their careers, though he was only 6-for-44 (.136) during his first seven years in the majors. Early on, I felt like I never got a hit. I kind of made up for it maybe a little bit later on. But he was no fun to face, Molitor said. The first couple of times you face somebody you know, theres a little awkwardness when you get in there, and maybe some smirking going on. But after that, you really dont think about it. For guys that play, and play to win, that just gets sawed off once the game begins.
Morris was elected last winter by a 16-member committee after failing to receive 75 percent support from the Baseball Writers Association of America for 15 years. Molitor made it clear he believes the old-timers got it right.
Most people that played in his generation and competed against him are convinced that this should have happened sooner than it did, the manager said. But its good that its happening, and to have a chance to be there and stand and clap my hands for him, Im looking forward to it.