Monthly Archives: February 2021

Paul Molitor Jersey

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It’s twenty-five years ago, it’s 1996. Kerri Strug is flipping through the air on a broken ankle. Will Smith is saving the world from aliens while he gets engaged to Vivica A. Fox, who is a pole dancing instructor that takes cash donations. Helen Hunt is chasing tornadoes, and Tom Cruise is making missions possible. George Clooney is saving patients in the ER. Uncoordinated people everywhere are becoming dancing experts because of the Macarena, and Tracy Chapman is still looking for one reason stay here. Bill Clinton is on his way to re-election, and the Nintendo 64 arrives. All of these pale in comparison, however, to the debut of hometown hero Paul Molitor for the Twins.

Molitor’s stamp on the Minnesota baseball scene started long before his MLB career, as he attended both Cretin-Derham Hall and the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. He became the third overall pick of the 1977 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, and his storied career began as a member of Harvey’s Wallbangers. His career with Milwaukee was full of significant success at the plate, but was also marred with a rash of injuries. An elbow injury saw Molitor play of number different positions with the Brewers, and would eventually lead to him getting Tommy John surgery. He began to see a lot of time at designated hitter as early as 1982, and by 1990, he was basically a full-time DH.

After parts of 15 seasons with the Brew Crew, Molitor took his talents north of the border to Toronto, where he replaced fellow Minnesota legend Dave Winfield in the middle of their juggernaut offense. He had a successful stint in Toronto, hitting a combined .315, posting an OPS+ 128, and collecting the World Series MVP in 1993. After the 1995 season, Molitor came home to roost in Minnesota, once again replacing Winfield as he signed a free agent contract with the Twins.

He came out of the gates firing, as he posted 14 hits in the first 8 games of the season, which equaled out to a .424 batting average. Molitor mostly wouldn’t slow down, as his lowest batting average at any point of the season was .318. His production largely flew under the radar, however, as the Twins stumbled to a 78-84 record. In an era largely defined by hulking sluggers and alleged steroid use, Molitor posted one of his finest seasons in his age-39 season. Here are some of the main numbers posted by Molitor:

Hits: 225 (career-high and league-leading)
Batting Average: .341
OPS: .858
OPS+: 116
Doubles: 41 (tied for career-high)
HR: 9
RBI: 113 (career-high)
SB: 18
WAR: 3.7 (second among DHs behind Edgar Martinez)
Molitor’s 1996 is a season that any player would be proud of, but especially a player in what should be the twilight of his career. For players aged 39 and older, Molitor’s 225 hits rank as the most in the history of the MLB. His 18 stolen bases also jump off the page, as the designated hitter position is not often associated with speed. Among players that were designated hitters more than 50% of the time, Molitor has 5 of the top 18 stolen base seasons, including tying for the top mark with 31 stolen bases in 1992. Another unusual part of his season was his RBI total, as his 113 RBI were the most by a player who hit fewer that 10 homers since 1946.

One moment from 1996 stands out in particular was Molitor reaching 3,000 hits, as he became the first player to do it with a triple. While this is the most famous moment of the Twins’ 1996 season, and his most iconic moment with the Twins, the rest of Molitor’s 1996 season should also live on because of his brilliance that year. He would of course go on to become the manager of Twins, including winning the AL Manager of the Year. Molitor will forever be linked with Minnesota and the Twins, and also is probably somewhere trying to take Dave Winfield’s job as we speak.

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MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, MN — Bringing their fans the most innovative, immersive and accessible virtual fan journey in all of sport, the Minnesota Twins today launched Twins XR: A Virtual Hall of Fame Experience. Developed in collaboration with Minneapolis-based REM5 STUDIOS, fans of all ages can easily access Twins XR from a web browser via computer, or through a virtual reality headset, all from the comfort of their own home. The experience is available to the public free of charge.

Through the Twins XR experience, fans are transported into the Twins’ truly virtual clubhouse, where they can navigate their avatar through the stunning 3D environment to engage with artifacts, memorabilia, images, videos and individual exhibits for all 34 members of the Twins Hall of Fame – from Harmon Killebrew to Justin Morneau. Further enhancing the experience, Twins fans from anywhere in the world can visit concurrently with friends, family and other fans, allowing for live conversation and interaction as, together, they explore the virtual Twins Hall of Fame.

“We’re excited to provide our fans with a truly unique experience unlike anything they’ve ever seen,” said Chris Iles, Senior Director of Experience and Innovation for the Twins. “Fans will find Twins XR to be an engaging, intuitive and novel way to connect with Twins history alongside other fans that share their love of baseball.”

“With a giant appetite for innovation, the Twins make an ideal partner to dream big and leverage emerging technology in a very meaningful way,” said Amir Berenjian, Founder of REM5 STUDIOS. “People are craving new and immersive ways to interact now more than ever, and we don’t see that trend slowing down. The Twins XR fan experience is really a glimpse into the future of digital, social engagement.”

Twins XR: A Virtual Hall of Fame Experience is available for an extremely limited time beginning Wednesday, February 10. For more information, and to access this one-of-a-kind journey through Minnesota Twins history, please visit www.twinsbaseball.com/xr.

About the Twins Hall of Fame

The Twins Hall of Fame, which honors players, managers, coaches and off-field personnel who have contributed to the organization’s growth and success since Minnesota broke in to the major leagues in 1961, was created as part of the club’s 40th Season Celebration in 2000. There are 34 members of the Twins Hall of Fame, with Justin Morneau elected in 2020 and set to be inducted in 2021.

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The Twins drafted Matt Wallner 39th overall in the 2019 MLB draft out of Southern Mississippi. They had previously drafted him in the 32nd round out of Forest Lake High School (Go Rangers!) after being named the East Metro player of the year and Mr Baseball but he made the easy choice to go to college instead. He had been committed to North Dakota to play college baseball but that school dropped their baseball program in April of his senior year and Wallner changed his destination to Hattiesburg, MS. Despite the late change things worked out well as Wallner became one of the best players in Southern Miss history. He was named Conference USA freshman of the year splitting his time between RF and P. His sophomore year he was named an All-American and although he dropped pitching his junior year he kept piling up awards and became the highest draft pick in the history of Southern Miss. He hit .337/.461/.652 with 58 HR in 189 games over his college career. The Twins started Wallner at Elizabethton and he hit .269/.361/.452 in 53 games before a late promotion to Cedar Rapids where he hit .205/.340/.455 in 12 games. His best asset is his power left handed bat and as a former pitcher his arm in RF is a plus. Brian Dozier was the last Twin picked from Southern Mississippi. We can all hope this local kid has that level of career for the Twins.

Cole Sands, P
2021 Age: 23
2019 High Level: Pensacola (AA)
Cole Sands was drafted in the 5th round of the 2018 MLB draft out of Florida State. He battled with injuries his junior season but the Twins decided his talent was worth an over-slot $600,000 bonus to make sure he didn’t return for his senior season. Sands did not pitch his first summer in the organization as he recovered from the injuries he was dealing with during his college season. The Twins began his 2019 season in Cedar Rapids where he had a 10.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 3.05 RA9 in 8 starts. He earned a mid-season promotion to Fort Myers where he kept up the good work compiling a 9.2 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and 2.77 RA9 in 52 innings at that level. This earned him a late call-up to Pensacola for one start in Double-A. Despite three trips to the injured list he was able to pitch 97 innings. He throws a mid-90s fastball with movement, a plus breaking ball and a good change up. The results have been there but keeping him healthy and on the mound has been challenging. Expect to see him start 2021 in Double-A with a possible Twins debut as soon as this summer.