Paul Molitor didn't know he was going for a record when he went to bat in the ninth inning of his first World Series game with four hits already in the scorebook.
"I just thought, 'Hey, I might get five hits in a World Series game,' " Molitor said today.
So he did. It wasn't until after the game, when an official of the baseball Hall of Fame asked him for his bat, that the significance of the Brewer third baseman's feat sank in.
You might think a fellow who had five hits in a World Series game would be reluctant to give up his bat before the series was over. Not Molitor.
"I broke three bats last night," he said at a press conference today. "I'd have had to give them nine pieces." Instead, he fished out the bat with which he'd picked up the final two hits (it was still intact), and happily turned it over to the hall. Immortality, after all, doesn't knock every day.
Molitor had more than skill on his side. His accomplishment included "three infield hits and a bloop," he recollected with a chuckle. All three infield singles were reached on scrambles into the hole by Cardinal Ozzie Smith, perhaps the quickest, most sure-handed shortstop in the game.
"With anyone but Ozzie some of those might have gone through and it wouldn't look so bad," said Molitor.
With a French-cut, charcoal-gray woolen suit setting off his bright eyes, Molitor seemed more like a fashion model in Gentleman's Quarterly than a second baseman in the World Series.
"Do you ever feel funny, with guys like (Pete) Vuckovich, Gorman Thomas and Dwight Bernard on the team, you being the clean-cut, handsome type," someone asked.
"Diversity," Molitor answered, "is the key to our team."
It's also the key to the fleet, slender Molitor, who played four positions for the Brewers before being assigned this year to third base for the first time.
And as the leadoff man he had a superb year, batting .302 with 201 hits, 19 homers, 41 stolen bases and 71 runs batted-in. Follow that with No. 2 hitter Robin Yount's .331 average and 29 homers and you have a potent one-two punch.
They root for each other. Molitor said his only disappointment in the five-hit, opening-game performance was that "the sign on the scoreboard didn't say, 'Paul Molitor and Robin Yount just set a World Series record with five hits.' " Yount had to settle for four hits when he struck out following Molitor.