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Molitor, Eckersley elected to Hall of Fame
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Paul Molitor during his playing days with the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Brewers)
St. Paul native Paul Molitor was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Molitor collected many awards and achievements over his 21-year career. However, he says election to the Hall is the highest honor a player can receive. While Molitor says he's humbled by his selection, fans and followers of the game say Molitor's selection was no surprise to them.

Minneapolis, Minn. — Over his career, Molitor achieved milestones reached by few players. He collected over 3,000 hits, registered a career batting average of over .300 and was named the MVP of the 1993 World Series. Yet, Molitor says getting the call from Cooperstown has been one of the biggest thrills.

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Image Molitor reacts

"When you get the phone call it's an amazing feeling. Your heart starts to palpitate and you look down and you see the 212 area code and you know it's the call. 12:04 p.m. -- I'll always remember that," Molitor said.

Molitor was considered a shoe-in to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. And the votes reflected that. He was picked on over 85 percent of the ballots cast by voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Molitor and relief pitcher Dennis Eckersley were the only two players selected this year. Several notable players didn't make the cut, including former Twins pitchers Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven. Molitor says the weight of the honor hit him when he realized some of the players he was selected over.

"And you stop and think, I've played against these guys. I just have to shake my head sometimes at how the process works and then to imagine that you were able to get more than what was required. It furthers my understanding of the difficulty of the Baseball Hall of Fame; how select that process is," he said.

Molitor spent the majority of his career -- 15 years -- with the Milwaukee Brewers. After a few years with the Toronto Blue Jays, Molitor returned to Minnesota to finish his career with the Minnesota Twins. He will be inducted as a Brewer.

Molitor played various positions throughout his career. His strength, however, was at the plate.

"If you needed someone to knock one off the wall, or if you needed him to swing from the heels for a homerun he could do it," says Howard Sinker, a writer and editor at the Star Tribune. He says Molitor wasn't a big home run hitter. However, he says Molitor was exceptional because he could help his team produce runs when they needed them most.

"When he was with the Brewers, they had other players who were really their source of power. His job was to get on base. He could steal bases. there were other times when they were down 2-0 with a couple of guys on base he could swing for the fences."

Molitor was born in St. Paul and began playing organized baseball at an early age. He is one of several St. Paul natives who have had successful careers in the Major Leagues. Jack Morris and Hall of Famer Dave Winfield also learned to play baseball in St. Paul parks and schools.

Molitor's sixth-grade baseball coach, Wally Westcott, says he saw abilities in Molitor that a lot of kids his age didn't have.

"He was definitely what we would call a natural athlete. No matter he played. He played basketball and I think he also played soccer," according to Westcott.

Westcott says besides his natural talent, Molitor had a strong desire to win and work hard. He says he doesn't think young athletes these days have the same kind of drive Molitor had when he was playing in sixth grade. Westcott says he still keeps in touch with Molitor. And when asked what he'll say to his former pupil the next time he sees him, Wescott has a brief statement.

"This is an honor that was definitely not given to you. It's something you earned," he said.

The official induction ceremony will be held in Cooperstown in July.

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