An affecting memoir about a remarkable man who raised three sons to become baseball champions.
Fans have always been intrigued by baseball families—the DiMaggios, the Alous, etc.—and the foremost family act of our era is undoubtedly the Molinas. Brothers Bengie, José, and Yadier, all catchers, together have six World Series rings. All are known as consummate professionals and outstanding defensive specialists. With the help of Ryan (The Water Giver: The Story of a Mother, Her Son, and Their Second Chance, 2009, etc.), Bengie Molina, the oldest, tells the story that accounts for their success. For 30 years a factory worker, Benjamin Molina Santana, “Pai,” coached his sons and others on the field across from their home in Puerto Rico, teaching lessons about punctuality, hard work, humility, teamwork, integrity, and respect. On that same field, he died of a massive heart attack at 58. As a youth, he’d played second base “like a scorpion,” but he never made the minor leagues. What kept him from even showing up at a Milwaukee Brewers tryout in 1973? What kept this man, who appeared to love baseball above everything, from fulfilling his dream? For years, Bengie strove to win his father’s respect, working hard to achieve the financial and professional success Pai never had. His account covers all the usual stops and stories attending any ballplayer’s rise through college, the minors, and his tenure with three major league teams. He includes some personal tales about his brothers, his own bitter divorce and eventual remarriage, but these are all incidental to his larger obsession: his relationship with and final assessment of his father. He comes to understand that he was entirely mistaken about his beloved Pai’s ambition, that it was likely no accident the Molina brothers all became catchers. After all, these are the men who, on the baseball field, are the coaches, the caretakers, the fathers, the ones who protect home.
A simply told, deeply moving story, quite unlike the usual baseball book.