Monday September 16, 1996
Three years to the day after Dave Winfield joined the 3,000 hit club, another St. Paul native also reached that milestone in a Twins uniform.
The ball hung in the lights of Kauffman Stadium, and major league history hung in the balance. When Paul Molitor’s fly ball finally fell between two Royals outfielders on Monday night, the St. Paul native became the 21st player ever to reach 3,000 hits.
He wasn’t satisfied. As the Royals relayed the ball back to the infield, Molitor, 40, churned around second and slid, face-first, into third, and became the first player ever to triple for No. 3,000.
“It wasn’t the sharpest of hits, but it was in the right place,” said Molitor, who entered the game needing two hits for 3,000 and got three. The historic hit, which came in the fifth inning of a Twins’ 6-5 loss, occurred on the third anniversary of the 3,000th hit by Dave Winfield, a fellow St. Paul native and former Twin
-Jim Souhan (Star Tribune 9/17/1996)
Paul Molitor had signed with the Twins before the 1996 season excited to play for his hometown team and looking forward to being in the same lineup with Kirby Puckett (which of course didn’t work out). He came into the season with 2,789 career hits. The Twins started a nine-game home stand on September 6 with Molitor 13 hits away from the milestone. While it appeared unlikely that he would reach it in front of the Metrodome crowd (the Twins started a nine-game road trip immediately following the homestand), there was some hope.
Molitor ended up with 11 hits in the nine games, and took to the road with the team only two hits short. In the first game of the road trip at Kaufmann Stadium, Molitor became the first player to triple for his 3000th hit as mentioned by Souhan above; but also became the first player to reach 3000 in a year in which he had 200 or more hits on the season.
On the same day, Chuck Knoblauch reached his 1000th career hit, and there was some speculation that he may some day join Winfield and Molitor on the 3,000 list.