Will Molina be a Hall of Famer one day? 'If it happens, it happens'

News-DemocratApril 7, 2014 

— Yadier Molina looks fine in a red chest protector. Should the St. Louis Cardinals fit him with a red blazer?

Molina played in his 10th consecutive home opener Monday afternoon at Busch Stadium. As his teammates shook hands with Cardinals Hall of Famers during pregame festivities on the field, Molina, as always, was in the bullpen with the starting pitcher.

But considering the career he is piecing together, Molina could one day get his chance to stand in line with the Hall of Fame legends, who on Monday were Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendienst and Bruce Sutter, and managers Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa, who will be inducted in July.

"For me, I don't try to think that way," Molina said after his three-run double helped the Cardinals defeat Cincinnati 5-3. "I try to go day by day and try to think about now.

"If it happens, it happens. I would love to one day be in one of those jackets, but right now, I'm not thinking about it."

Molina's resume already consists of five All-Star Games, six Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, two Platinum Gloves, one Silver Slugger Award and two top-four finishes in Most Valuable Player Award balloting. And he's only 31.

Opening Day in St. Louis was another hit, even though the Clydesdales didn't participate because of steady rain. Players arrived on the field riding in 2014 Ford F-150 Raptors.

Second baseman Kolten Wong until Monday had only heard about the uniqueness of Opening Day at Busch Stadium.

"It was magical," he said. "Even though it was raining, I was still super-excited and super-thrilled to see the amount of fans that came out. To be a part of the whole festivities that went down, it was awesome. ... You always hope to be there one day."

Another first-timer was center fielder Peter Bourjos.

"It was a great experience," he said. "I've heard a lot about it and everything I heard, it lived up to it. The fans were unbelievable. Getting to meet all the Hall of Famers and just driving around the stadium getting to take it all in was something very special that I'm never going to forget."

Closer Trevor Rosenthal echoed his teammates.

"It's just an honor to take the field and be a part of that and be one of the guys on the roster for Opening Day," he said. "It was a great experience. We could have asked for a little bit better weather, but it was definitely a good time. There's no better place to do it than St. Louis."

It was the eighth home opener with the Cardinals for Mike Matheny --five as a player and three as a manager. He said all have been special.

"I think there's probably more tradition (in St. Louis)," Matheny said. "It's special in every city; there's no question. But you look at the different things that consistently happen here, from the Clydesdales, obviously, and the excitement we have with the Hall of Famers.

"The whole presentation with the guys coming out the way they do in the cars and trucks, it's unique. ... It just seems like there's some more long-standing traditions here than other places."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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