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Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty Paperback – June 28, 2016
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"For three brothers to make it to the big leagues, to all play the same demanding position, and to appear, between them, in eight World Series to date is remarkable enough. What is just as remarkable is the backstory—the family, especially the parents, who made Yadier, Bengie, and José Molina the ballplayers and men they became." —Bob Costas
"If Molina was just a baseball book explaining how a small town in Puerto Rico produced a historic set of three brothers who became Major League catchers and earned six World Series championships, it would still be a terrific read. The reality is that Molina is that and much more: it is a great book. Bengie honors his family, especially his Pai and Mai, by describing how their love and support carried him and his brothers through difficult beginnings into legendary careers—Mai taking care of the home front and Pai coaching their physical and mental baseball skills. Throughout the book, wonderful stories are combined with fascinating insights. I have read Molina three times to fully appreciate its many important messages. Molina will touch you on many levels. You will love it." —Tony La Russa
"I've always believed that it takes a village of people to love and nurture a professional athlete into being. The Molinas are the perfect example. They will go down with the Alous, the Boones, the Bells, and others as baseball family royalty. This book is a must-read for all parents who want to teach their children the skills of the game while making sure they know that their skills away from the diamond are just as important." —Ron Darling
“An affecting memoir about a remarkable man who raised three sons to become baseball champions. . . . A simply told, deeply moving story, quite unlike the usual baseball book.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A good baseball story, but an even better story of fathers, sons, and the importance of family.” —Booklist (starred review)
“It's this year's baseball book most likely to be made into a terrific movie. … An ideal Father's Day present." —The Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Benjamin José "Bengie" Molina is a former Major League Baseball catcher who has played for the Anaheim Angels, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the San Francisco Giants. His brothers, Yadier and José, are also major league catchers. Bengie holds two World Championship rings, and two Gold Glove Awards. He is now the first base coach and catching instructor for the Texas Rangers.
Joan Ryan is an award-winning journalist and author. She was one of the first female sports columnists in the country, and has covered every major sporting event, from the Super Bowl to the Olympics and championship fights. Her work has earned her thirteen Associated Press Sports Editors Awards, the National Headliner Award and the Women's Sports Foundation's Journalism Award by the San Francisco chapter of the National Organization for Women. Her book Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters was named one of the Top 100 Sports Books of All Time by Sports Illustrated (the only one to be authored by a woman), and one of the Top 50 Sports Books of All Time by the Guardian. Joan now works as a media consultant to the San Francisco Giants.
Top customer reviews
Pai was a very talented baseball player who had the potential, but never made it to the major leagues. In fact, Bengie writes that people will tell you that Pai was a better player than any of his sons. Bengie does not reveal until late in the book why Pai didn’t play in the major leagues.
Pai taught and coached youth baseball, which was his passion. His rules were about the same thing: respect—for coaches, umpires, teammates, teachers, parents, the game, yourself. In addition to baseball, Pai enjoyed drinking beer and playing dominoes with his friends.
Mai (Bengie’s mother) was a good fit for Pai. She was lively and gregarious enough to fill Pai’s silences. And what luck to find a girl who loved baseball as much as he did.
As far as his faith, Bengie writes “My baptism and communion were pretty much the extent of my church experience. My parents weren’t even married in a church. Church weddings cost too much. As a child, on the few occasions I found myself in the Vega Alta church, I didn’t feel that God would live in such a place. The door was thick and heavy, and when it closed behind me, I imagined being sealed inside an enormous crypt, cut off from everything alive.”
I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan and my favorite player is Yadier Molina. Bengie tells the story that Yadier was the only five-year-old in the history of Little League to infuriate an umpire enough to get tossed from a game (for calling the umpire an obscene name).
Bengie started his major league career with the California Angels, later playing for the Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers, retiring in 2010. He has stayed in the game as a coach.
Bengie writes of not being happy in his marriage, indicating that they were two unhappy strangers who shared two beautiful daughters and little else. He writes of being attracted to Jamie while married, who he would later marry. This did not go over well with Pai, who saw him as being disloyal and not putting his family first. That put a strain on Pai and Bengie’s relationship, something that was very painful for Benjie, as Pai would refuse to take Bengie’s phone calls.
Sadly, not long after the two were reconciled, Pai died at age 58 of a massive heart attack on his beloved field across the street from their home where he taught and coached baseball. That is where his wake was held, on the spot he had crossed a million times with his bags of balls and bats. Bengie writes that this was where he had lived, in the seam between baseball and family, and this was where he had taken his final steps.
Bengie writes about Pai’s wake:
“A light rain fell as we carried Pai’s closed casket out of the tent and onto the baseball field. The baselines and batter’s boxes had been carefully chalked. We carried the casket to first base, then second and third. The mayor delivered a play-by-play of the action, as if Pai were rounding the bases. I picked up first base, Cheo second, and Yadier third. The mayor’s voice grew louder and more excited as we carried Pai toward home. His last trip around the diamond. A thousand people leapt to their feet.”
Bengie writes that playing in the Major Leagues was not Pai’s dream. His dream was to be a good father and husband and raise good sons. Through baseball, he taught his sons how to be men. That was his life’s work.
This is a very well written book and one that I couldn’t put down.