Paul Molitor (born August 22, 1956, in Saint Paul, Minnesota), nicknamed Molly and The Ignitor, is an American former Major League Baseball player. Molitor played for 21 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers (1978-92), Toronto Blue Jays (1993-95), and Minnesota Twins (1996-98). He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004, his first year of eligibility.
After graduating from Cretin-Derham Hall High School, he was selected in the 28th round of the 1974 free agent draft as a pitcher by the St. Louis Cardinals, but opted instead to attend college at the University of Minnesota. He was a three year starter for the Golden Gophers, earning All American honors as a shortstop for his sophomore and junior years.
After his junior year in college, he was selected third overall in the 1977 free agent draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. He signed with the Brewers and began his professional career in Iowa, playing for the Class A Burlington Bees of the Midwest League.
Molitor played several positions during his career. He started out as a shortstop, then moved to second base when the briefly-retired Robin Yount returned. Molitor then was moved to third base at the age of 25. During the latter half of his career, he was used primarily as a designated hitter, with occasional games at first base. He played 44% of his career games as a DH.
Molitor was part of a young Milwaukee Brewers team that lost the 1982 World Series in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals. Molitor batted .355 during the series. In Game 1, he had five hits, which set a Major League record. During the 1982 season, he hit .302 and led the American League with 136 runs scored. Molitor also attracted national media attention during his 39-game hitting streak, which ended with Molitor in the on-deck circle when Rick Manning got a game-ending hit to beat the Cleveland Indians on August 26, 1987. Fans booed Manning for driving in the winning run and thus depriving Molitor of one last chance to reach 40 games. The streak continues to stand as the fifth-longest in modern-day baseball history, and remains the longest since Pete Rose's 44-game hit streak in 1978.
Molitor was acquired through free agency by the Toronto Blue Jays in December 1992, and was a key part of the Blue Jays' second World Championship. Molitor won the World Series MVP Award and tied a World Series record by batting 12–24 (.500) in the six-game series. In 1993 Molitor led the AL in plate appearances, with 675, and hits (211).
In 1994, a strike-shortened season, Molitor led the AL in games played (115) and singles (107). He also stole 20 bases that season without ever being caught, one short of Kevin McReynolds' 1988 major league record of 21.
He left the Blue Jays after the 1995 season, and joined his hometown Minnesota Twins for the final three seasons of his career, where he acquired his 3,000th hit. He is the only player to reach the 3,000 hits plateau with a triple. Molitor was relishing the opportunity to play with Twins superstar Kirby Puckett, but Puckett developed career-ending glaucoma during spring training in 1996 and never played again. In 1996, Molitor became the second 40-year-old, after Hall of Famer Sam Rice, to have a 200-hit season, leading the league with 225, while also leading the league in singles with 167. Molitor also remains the last Major League player to drive in 100 or more runs in a season while hitting fewer than 10 home runs (9 HR, 113 RBIs). After retiring as a player, Molitor remained with the Twins as a bench coach for three seasons, and was considered a leading candidate to manage the team when Tom Kelly retired after the 2001 season, but declined in part because the Twins were at still at the time being targeted for potential contraction.