Paul Molitor’s hit streak ends at 39 games
Since Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941, many have knocked on history’s door with an impressive run of their own – but nobody has been able to reach that summit.
On Aug. 26, 1987, Milwaukee Brewers designated hitter and future Hall of Famer Paul Molitor came as close as any American League player since DiMaggio when his streak ended at 39 games in a contest against the Indians.
On that August night in 1987 at County Stadium in Milwaukee, Molitor was facing John Farrell, a former Oklahoma State Cowboy and future manager of the Boston Red Sox.
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Farrell was 5-1 with a 3.39 in 1987, his rookie season, but his matchup against Molitor and the Brewers was only his second start in The Show.
Molitor, nicknamed “The Ignitor,” struck out in his first at-bat and grounded into a double play in the next.
In his third at-bat in the sixth inning, Molitor again failed to record a hit, grounding out to the shortstop Julio Franco to end the inning.
Molitor, who finished with 3,319 hits through 21 big league seasons with the Brewers, Blue Jays and Twins, had one more chance, one more signature blue collar at-bat to keep his streak going. It was this approach that allowed him to build his exceptional hitting streak and finish with more career hits than Willie Mays, Tony Gwynn or George Brett.
“Molitor didn’t walk across the lake to get here, and he didn’t change his clothes in the phone booth,” said Doc Edwards, the Indians manager that day and a major league catcher from 1962-70. “He’s just another tough hitter.”