Driving Minny-KC to see No. 3,000 by Molitor

 * Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, a Saint Paul native is part of the Twins Cities rich history, along with Hall of Famer Dave Winfield and Jack Morris and this year's all-star game. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent


By Bob Elliott

MINNEAPOLIS _ It was crunch time.

It was the white-kunckle nervy ninth innings before the ninth.

You could have used any of those cliches and they would have fit.

But why would you?

The game between the Seattle Mariners (six games under .500, four games back in the wild-card race) and the Minnesota Twins (a .500 team) on a Sunday afternoon Sept. 15, 1996 at the MetroDome in Minneapolis was certainly not the ESPN Sunday Game of the Week. Paul Molitor had grounded out to end the third, sitting on 2,998 career hits. Now, he’d might only two more at-bats in the final game of a 10-game home stand

Jim Caple, the talented Minnesota scribe now at ESPN.com, asked me “are you going to Kansas City for Monday’s game?”


Neither his paper nor mine would pay for last-minute flight.

“What if I drive and split the gas?” asked Caple.

Molitor grounded out to end the sixth and bounced out for the second out of the ninth.

The next day Caple and I were off on a seven-hour drive through the Iowa corn fields.

Point of the story: the 85th all-star game belongs in the baseball-crazed Twins Cities.

Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, Hall of Famer Molitor, the Blue Jays 1993 World Series MVP and Jack Morris, who should be in the Hall of Fame, are all from St. Paul -- the other half of the Twins Cities. St. Paul is Waterloo and Minneapolis is Kitchener.

In previous all-star games here the NL received scoreless outings from Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan (three innings) and Goose Gossage (scoreless ninth) as the NL beat the AL 6-1 at the MetroDome in 1985. Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie Stargell and Joe Torre homered to edge the AL 6-5 at Metropolitan Stadium in 1965.

Besides Winfield and Molitor, Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett are Twins who have plaques in Cooperstown.

The SiriusXM Futures Game goes Sunday afternoon at Target Field featuring Mississauga’s Dalton Pompey and lefty Daniel Norris, both Blue Jays prospects from double-A New Hampshire, as well as triple-A Buffalo catcher A.J. Jimenez.

The Gilette Home Run derby -- such a big deal in 1991 it was held in the afternoon when Cal Ripken won at the SkyDome -- with captain Jose Bautista in charge of the AL and Justin Morneau returning to his old stomping grounds as an NL competitors, goes Monday night in prime time.

And on Tuesday its the all-star game.

What happened to that Molitor guy?

He singled in the first and tripled between Rod Myers and Jon Nunnally in the fifth on Monday for his 3,000th hit, three years to the day after Winfield hit No. 3,000.

And he started off his press conference apologizing for “only” getting 11 hits in the 10-game homestand and making writers from Milwaukee, Toronto and Minneapolis, as well as TV crews, travel to K.C.

Private screening: It was difficult fighting through paparazzi and making my way along the Red Carpet the other night at the swanky downtown Shangri-La Hotel, but eventually I found the third floor screening room for the unveiling of “Pantload: 25 Years of Prime Time Sports,” a documentary of Bob McCown’s show, produced by McCown’s Fadoo Productions. Corey Russell produced a well-done 66-minute film of McCown’s start, evolution into “TV Bob” and rise to supremacy as the wisest radio voice in Canada.

Highlights were an in depth look at Jays manager Cito Gaston telling our Heather Byrd in 1997 that criticism from Dave Langford, our Steve Simmons and McCown was based on racism, coverage of 9/11 (McCown’s finest five days), insight from Brian Williams, Gord Kirke, Nelson Millman, Wayne Parrish and distant cousin Elliotte Friedman.

Dave Perkins told of their days as teammates at Winston Churchill High where McCown was a quarterback, a curler ... and a cheer leader. And it was a thrill to meet true star of the documentary Helen McCown, Robert’s mother, as well as put the tab for valet parking on McCown’s tab.

In a moment of full disclosure I have been a sometimes guest -- sometimes even paid -- of Prime Time since the early 1990s. Am still awaiting to be paid from September. Maybe they sent the cheque via Porter Airlines, who are often lag delivering.

The film will air on Sportsnet on Wednesday. There’s a chance that they’ll mention the start time before then.

Jeter numbers: With two singles Thursday in Cleveland Yankee captain Derek Jeter had 1,000 multi-hit games, the sixth most since 1900 to do so, behind Ty Cobb (1,293), Pete Rose (1,225), Stan Musial (1,059), Tris Speaker (1,059( and Hank Aaron (1,046) ... He had his 3,400 career hit Sunday in Minnesota becoming the eighth player in history to have that many and the first since Pete Rose ... Earlier this month he hit his 534 double against Tampa Bay to tie Lou Gehrig for first in Yankee history.

Briefly: Will new Jays outfielder Nolan Reimold, sidelined after four games, be the next patient for Adam Lind’s mother? It should be pointed out Mrs. Lind never once suggested treatment on reliever B.J. Ryan’s back ... The late Jack Graney, the only big leaguer born in St. Thomas, Ont. will finally have his name added to the city’s Wall of Fame at the Timken Centre on Monday at 2 p.m. Leading off for the Cleveland Naps Graney was the first player to face Boston Red Sox lefty Babe Ruth 100 years ago Friday. Ruth pitched seven innings allowing two earned runs in the 4-3 Boston win, while Graney had two hits ... Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield was ejected on “Maine Day” at Fenway Park after arguing a missed balk call with second base ump Hunter Wendelstedt on Sunday. A native of Bangor, Maine, the former Blue Jays coach leads all major-league coaches with three ejections this season ... Brenda Udell, daughter of Tex Howard, is searching for members of the Orillia Majors in time for next weekend’s reunion to celebrate winning the OBA senior title 50 years ago.

On the Cape: Whitby lefty Ryan Kellogg is 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts as he impresses scouts for next June’s draft with an “outstanding ability to pitch inside to right-handed hitters.” Kellogg has walked two and fanned 21 in 22 innings ... Other Canucks draft eligible in 2014 summering on the Cape: infielder Brendan Hendriks of Cochrane, Alta. is batting .333 with 11 RBIs in 22 games for the Cotuit Kettleers, infielder Cole Peragine of Belle Ewart, Ont. is batting .250 with two RBIs in 23 games for the Orleans Firebirds and Pickering infielder Michael Foster is hitting .205 with four RBIs in 16 games with Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.