Paul Molitor was born on August 22, 1956 in St. Paul Minnesota. In 1974 he was drafted out of Cretin-Derham High School in St. Paul (same HS as Joe Mauer) by the St. Louis Cardinals. Instead of signing with the Cardinals, Molitor opted to attend the University of Minnesota (following HOFer Dave Winfield) where he became an All-American shortstop his sophomore and junior seasons. In 1977, with the third overall pick in the draft the Milwaukee Brewers selected Molitor, after which he reported to Burlington to play for the Brewers' single A affiliate in the Midwest League.
In 1978 Molitor broke spring training with the big league club as a potential replacement for shortstop Robin Yount who was contemplating retirement. In his first series as a big-leaguer, Molitor had two 3-hit games against the Baltimore Orioles while playing shortstop. In 1978, Molitor would go on to lead all American League rookies in hits, runs, doubles and stolen bases, and finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting to Lou Whitaker of the Detroit Tigers. Molitor would spend most of his rookie campaign leading off for the Brewers, earning himself the title of "The Ignitor".
In 1980, Molitor became on of the first Brewers to be selected by the fans to represent the American League in the All-Star Game, however he would be replaced as a starter due to an injury he suffered. Molitor would go on to represent the AL five more times in his career (1985, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994)
In 1982, Molitor playing the role of "The Ignitor", led the AL in ABs and runs, and helped the Brewers capture the AL pennant for the first time in their franchise's history. Although the Brewers eventually lost to the Cardinals in the 1982 World Series, Molitor batted .353 against St. Louis, and became the first and only player in World Series history to collect 5 hits in a game.
Paul Molitor would enjoy one of his best seasons in 1987, with career highs in SLG (.566) and OBP (.438). Molitor would amazingly lead the AL in runs and doubles despite only playing 118 games. 1987 would also be the year where Molitor would put together a 39 game hitting streak -- the seventh longest in MLB history, and the longest since Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak in 1941.
The most unpopular move by the Brewers' front office history was probably made after the 1992 offseason, when a presumably "declining" Paul Molitor was allowed to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays. Molitor had been very productive in 1991 and 1992, leading the AL in hits and runs in 1991, and making the All-Star squad in both seasons. In his first season with Toronto, Molitor put together his third 200 hit campaign, and finished second in the AL MVP balloting to Frank Thomas of Chicago. 1993 would also be the year Paul Molitor would collect his only World Series ring, as he batted .500 in the 1993 Fall Classic, collecting 12 hits, and scoring a WS record 10 runs. Molitor would be named the MVP of the 1993 World Series.
After three years in Toronto, Paul Molitor would return to Minnesota to finish his storied career with his hometown Twins. In 1996 Paul Molitor broke a 65 year old record when he collected 225 hits as a 40 year old player, breaking HOFer Sam Rice's mark set back in 1930.
After the 1998 season Paul Molitor decided to end his 21 season career. With a career batting average of .306, and 3319 career hits (8th most in MLB history), Paul Molitor retired as one of the best pure hitters in MLB history. Shortly before he passed away, Ted Williams was asked what current player reminded him the most of Joe DiMaggio, one of the best right-handed hitters to ever play baseball, and he replied, "Paul Molitor".
In 2004, with 85.2% of the vote The Ignitor would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility