The Minnesota Twins welcomed two St. Paul natives home and watched them both make September 16th a special day in baseball history.
The 3,000 hit club is one of those elite fraternities in baseball and the Minnesota Twins have a unique link to it. In fact, the 3,000 hit club is so elite, only 31 players have made it into the club. Thinking of all the players who have gone through the ranks of Major League Baseball that is a very small percentage.
Making the relationship that September 16th and the Minnesota Twins have with the 3,000 hit club that much more amazing. This day is the anniversary of two Hall of Fame players notching their 3,000 hit and both did so with their hometown Twins. Those players are none other than Dave Winfield and current manager Paul Molitor.
Winfield is considered one of the best all-around athletes to ever play professional athletics. He was drafted by a team in each of the four major sports. Making it no surprise that the St. Paul native would make it into such an elite club.
Minnesotans may have been disappointed they didn’t see Winfield stay home to play in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings, but they did get a chance to see him as a Twin. And although many won’t remember Winfield as a Twin, Twins’ fans get to cherish this moment as a part of Minnesota sports history.
On September 16, 1993, Winfield came to bat in the 9th inning and faced closer Dennis Eckersley. Winfield was able to scoot a ball through the left side of the infield for a single to become the 19th member of the 3,000 hit club.
1993 was a big year for Winfield as he also hit his 500th career double and 450th home run in that same year. Winfield currently sits at 21st on the all-time hits list as he finished his career with 3,110 hits.
In 1996, three years after Winfield recorded his 3,000th hit, Molitor did the same. In a game against the Kansas City Royals, Molitor became the 21st member of the club when he hit a triple to right-center where the ball just hit the grass and ran all the way to the wall.
Molitor was the first player to hit a triple as his 3,000th hit. He said this about that hit, “It may not have been the crispest of hits in nineteen years, but I hit it in the right place.”
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In place to observe Molitor’s hit were guys like Robin Yount, George Brett, and Gene Budig along with much of Molitor’s family. Notably missing from the game was one Molitor’s biggest fans, his father, who was unable to make the trip that day to the ballpark due to his health.
What is also unique about that day in 1996 is Molitor wasn’t the only Twins player to reach a career milestone that day. In the same game by hitting a double Chuck Knoblauch hit his 1,000th career hit. Molitor currently sits at 10th on the all-time hits list with 3,319 hits.
In case you wondering if Twins fans will be able to celebrate such a great milestone again anytime soon. The answer is we have a few years. As another St. Paul native, Joe Mauer, is the closest current Twin to 3,000 hits with 1,970 hits.