The Minnesota Twins introduced Paul Molitor as their new manager Tuesday. The Twin Cities native replaces Ron Gardenhire, who was fired in late September.
Molitor’s Hall-of-Fame playing career began in the Midwest League, where he batted .346 with 8 HR, 50 RBI and 14 SB in 64 games with the 1977 Burlington Bees. Molitor was the Midwest League MVP and Prospect of the Year, and his Bees team won the MWL championship.
That was Molitor’s only year in the minor leagues, though he made two brief rehab stints later in his career. One of those rehab stints was a single-game appearance with the 1990 Beloit Brewers, for whom he went 2-for-4 with a solo homer.
According to the Bees, Molitor will be the third former Burlington player to both play and manage in the major leagues. The other two are Phil Garner and Rene Lachemann.
Garner batted .278 with 11 HR and 70 RBI in 116 games with the 1971 Bees, who were affiliated with the Oakland Athletics.
Lachemann batted .281 with 24 HR and 82 RBI in 99 games with the 1964 Bees. He also managed Burlington in 1973 (54-64) and 1974 (61-59). The Bees were affiliated with the A’s during all three of those seasons.
Molitor also will be only the third former player to manage in the big leagues for the first time after having already been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The other two were Ted Williams, who managed the Washington Senators in 1969-71 and the Texas Rangers in 1972, and current Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.
(Side note: Williams played three years in the minor leagues — two in San Diego and one in Minneapolis. Both cities, of course, now have MLB teams.)
Like Molitor, Sandberg also has Midwest League roots, though his are not as a player. Sandberg managed the Peoria Chiefs in 2007 (71-68) and 2008 (60-78), when the team was affiliated with the Chicago Cubs.
Besides Molitor and Sandberg, only two other already-inducted Hall-of-Famers have gotten big-league managerial jobs in the last 25 years: Tony Perez and Frank Robinson. In all, eight Hall-of-Famers have managed in the major leagues since the first HOF class was elected in 1936. (Bob Lemon, Red Schoendienst and Yogi Berra are the ones not already mentioned.)