Twins officially hire Paul Molitor as new manager

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins made it official, as Paul Molitor will be introduced as the club’s new manager on Tuesday in a press conference at Target Field.

Molitor, 58, was considered the front-runner for the position since the Twins dismissed Ron Gardenhire as manager on Sept. 29. The Hall of Famer signed a three-year deal to become the 13th manager in Minnesota Twins history and just the third since Tom Kelly took over for Ray Miller in 1986.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan, who conducted the search for the new manager, will attend Tuesday’s press conference along with owner Jim Pohlad, club president Dave St. Peter and Molitor.

Molitor served as a coach for the club last season and is familiar with the club after serving as Minnesota’s Minor League baserunning and infield coordinator from 2005-13. Molitor also had that role with the Twins in ’03 before joining the Mariners as a hitting coach in ’04. He also finished as runner-up the last time the Twins hired a manager, when Gardenhire was picked as Kelly’s successor in ‘02. Molitor was also Minnesota’s bench coach from 2000-01.

He will join the Cardinals’ Mike Matheny, the Dodgers’ Don Mattingly, the White Sox Robin Ventura, the Rockies’ Walt Weiss and John Farrell — with the Blue Jays before winning the World Series as Red Sox skipper — as recent MLB hires with no prior managerial experience. Molitor, though, assisted with in-game strategy last season before serving as first-base coach after the All-Star break, when Joe Vavra was moved off his role as third-base coach after undergoing hip surgery.

Molitor, a St. Paul native, played 21 seasons in the Majors, including his final three with Minnesota from 1996-98. He finished his career with a .306/.369/.448 slash line with 3,319 hits in 2,683 games.

The Twins had at least two formal interviews with Molitor and also had two interviews with Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo and Class A Advanced Fort Myers manager Doug Mientkiewicz. Minnesota also interviewed White Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale for the position. The Twins also contacted Chip Hale before he was named the D-backs’ manager.

Molitor will also join Ted Williams and Ryne Sandberg as only the third man to begin his big league managerial career following his Hall of Fame induction as a player. Williams was hired as manager of the Washington Senators in 1969, three years after he was enshrined in Cooperstown. Sandberg, elected to the Hall in 2005, began managing the Phillies in August 2013.

While Molitor is in rare company with Williams and Sandberg, there have been several eventual Hall of Famers who started managing before they became eligible, which takes until at least five years after the end of one’s playing career. That group includes Yogi Berra (hired by the Yankees in 1964, elected to the Hall in 1972), Bob Lemon (Royals 1970, 1976), Eddie Mathews (Braves 1972, 1978) Tony Perez (Reds 1993, 2000), Frank Robinson (Indians 1975, 1982) and Red Schoendienst (Cardinals 1965, 1989).

It should also be noted that the Hall did not induct its first class until 1936, which means there is a long list of players-turned-managers who went on to be elected to Cooperstown. That list includes baseball legends such as Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Walter Johnson, Rogers Hornsby, Christy Mathewson and Tris Speaker.

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