Molitor wins World Series MVP after signing with Toronto
Paul Molitor wanted to sign with a team that was ready to win. The Toronto Blue Jays wanted to repeat as World Series champions. The match – and the Blue Jays’ contract offer – was perfect.
It wasn’t an easy decision for Molitor, who spent 15 years in Milwaukee after being drafted by the Brewers in the first round of the 1977 MLB Draft, but he switched franchises and signed a three-year, $13 million contract with the Blue Jays on Dec. 7, 1992.
“I can’t begin to tell you how difficult it was to leave,” Molitor said in the Los Angeles Times. “You play for a team for 15 years and the relationships you establish become a big part of you… There was no question in my mind at the end of the season that I would return to Milwaukee. But as the talks progressed, I became more open to changing teams. I was looking for a club that not only was competitive but had a real chance to win.”
In his first year with the Blue Jays, Molitor batted .332, led the majors with 211 hits and finished runner up in the American League MVP race, the only top-three finish of his career. Molitor lost the batting title race to his teammate, John Olerud, who batted .363 and earned third place in the MVP race.
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“It’s the best year I’ve had,” Molitor told the Star Tribune. “I can’t explain why at 37, and with everything I’ve been through – the injuries and everything – but the timing was pretty good.”
Molitor and Olerud guided Toronto to the AL East title, and 11 years after he ignited the Brewers’ offense in Milwaukee’s run to the American League pennant, Molitor returned to the playoffs on a team who knew what it took to win.
In the 1982 postseason, Molitor batted .340 and drove in eight runs, including a record five-hit, two-RBI performance in Game 1.
In 1993, the Blue Jays signed Molitor in an effort to defend their 1992 World Series title. Molitor answered by returning to the playoffs and turning in an even better performance.
“I can’t say too many good things about Paul,” Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick said to the Los Angeles Times after signing Molitor. “He adds to the club we already have, and hopefully we can repeat in ’93.”
Toronto knocked off the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS, with Molitor batting .391 and driving in five, helping the team to a World Series matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies.
As good as his first three playoff series had been, the 1993 World Series was Molitor’s best. He batted .458 with seven RBI and three walks on his way to earning series MVP. Molitor was the designated hitter in Game 6 and played a major role in the deciding game.
Molitor tripled to right on the first pitch he saw in the first inning to drive in a run and open the scoring, then scored to make it 2-0 when Joe Carter drove him home on a sacrifice fly. In the fifth, Molitor slammed a 1-1 pitch out to left field for his second home run of the series. He became the first player in World Series history to have at least two home runs, two doubles and two triples, and rounded the bases to chants of MVP from the Toronto fans. In the ninth, Molitor singled and was standing on first when Carter hit a walk-off home run to help the Blue Jays repeat as World Series champs. “Those guys from ‘82 know I love them too, but this is going to be number one for me, my first World Series championship,” Molitor told the Star. “I have this feeling of thankfulness for all that has come my way.” Molitor played two more seasons in Toronto. He earned a second All-Star selection for the franchise in 1994 and finished the strike-shortened season with a .341 average, the second-highest of his career. In 1995, Molitor reached the 200-home run, 500-double and 1,000-RBI milestones. Molitor was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004.
Evan Gerike was the 2022 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development