Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Molinas are baseball's first family of catchers

ST . PETERSBURG

Baseball's first family of catchers was bred on a sandlot a short hop away from the Molina family home in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico.

There wasn't much to the field then, mostly dirt and a backstop, but it was hallowed ground to Bengie, 39, Jose, 39 and Yadier, 31. Their late father, Benjamin Sr., would practice with them every afternoon after his factory job, inviting kids of all ages from the tiny town to join.

Now, there is more sod on the renovated park, as well as four statues. There's one for each of the Molina brothers, the only sibling trio in history to catch in the majors, and only ones to each have won a World Series ring (they all have two).

The fourth statue is of Benjamin Sr., who was inducted into the Puerto Rico Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame the day that Jose and Bengie won the World Series with the Angels in 2002.

"Fitting," Bengie said.

"Everything that we are," said Jose, the Rays catcher, "is because of him."

Bengie is retired, now a first base coach with the Rangers. But Jose, the middle child, is excited to welcome their "baby" brother, Cardinals MVP finalist Yadier, tonight as the Rays begin a two-game interleague series at Tropicana Field.

The baby, turns out, has been the best.

"Superstar," Bengie said of Yadier. "He can carry a team catching and carry a team hitting. He can do everything."

"What can you say?" Jose said. "He's done everything — played in an All-Star Game, got Gold Gloves, World Series. But the most important thing is that respect that other players have for him."

•••

The question the brothers often get is, why did they all pick catcher?

The surprising answer is — they didn't.

Jose was the first to put on catcher's gear. Though he pitched a little, his father groomed him to play behind the plate in daily, pro-style workouts. He's in his 15th big-league season, mostly as a backup, earning World Series rings with the Angels (2002) and Yankees (2009).

"I think it worked out," Jose said, smiling.

Bengie had not been a catcher, and had played everywhere else.

But when Jose had a tryout for the Angels in 1993 in Puerto Rico, Bengie was back home from junior college. Their mother, Gladys, kept prodding the scout, saying she had another son, proudly showing him a newspaper clip of him hitting .400.

"The scout said, 'Here's a catcher's glove, let's see how you throw to second base,' " Bengie recalls.

The Angels signed Bengie, who went on to play 13 big-league seasons, winning two Gold Gloves and two World Series rings (Angels, 2002 and Giants, 2010), racking up 144 home runs. Jose and Bengie played together for parts of five seasons in Anaheim (2001-05). During the championship season, Bengie started, and Jose was his backup.

"Just meant to be," Jose said.

"Unbelievable," Bengie said. "I still miss it."

•••

The Molinas saved the best for last, with Yadier offering the complete package.

Yadier, a six-time Gold Glover and five-time All-Star, is one of the best at throwing out runners and managing pitching staffs. Plus, he can hit.

Yadier finished fourth in National League MVP voting in 2012 and third last season and was part of World Series champions in 2006 and 2011.

"Every organization is looking for a Yadier Molina," said Rays coach Jamie Nelson, a former catcher.

Yadier credits his older brothers.

"Catching has always been his strength, it's his gift," Yadier said of Jose, his teammate for Puerto Rico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. "It helped me, obviously, growing up, to have someone who could help with everything about catching."

The brothers have remained close, even launching Molina Records last year. Considering they all live in different places in the offseason — Jose in Puerto Rico, Yadier in Jupiter and Bengie in Arizona — they mostly get together on holidays.

With Father's Day coming Sunday, they're all thinking of Benjamin Sr., who died on a baseball field, suffering a heart attack six years ago at age 58 while coaching a youth game.

Bengie hopes the brothers can all one day wear the same uniform, maybe he and Jose coaching Yadier late in his career.

"Who knows?" Bengie said. "We have a pretty good chance. … That'd be awesome."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Molina brothers: By the numbers

16 Playoff appearances

6 World Series rings

8 Gold Gloves

3,540 Games

141 Postseason games

.by the numbers

Molina brothers

16

Playoff appearances

6

World Series rings

8

Gold Gloves

3,540

Games

141

Postseason games

Molinas are baseball's first family of catchers 06/09/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 9, 2014 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Storm routs Cleveland

    Storm

    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  2. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  3. Rowdies shut out Charleston

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Former closer Sergio Romo acquired from Dodgers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays made a move to help the bullpen Saturday night when they acquired RHP Sergio Romo, who had been designated for assignment last week by the Dodgers.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 7, 2017.
  5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. backs wife's "not worth risk'' opinion on Daytona

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Saturday defended his wife's Twitter post — and blamed himself for putting her in a position where she believed she had to speak out and upset some of his fans.

    Amy Earnhardt worries about Dale Jr.’s concussions.