BOSTON -- As Twins manager Paul Molitor discussed his admiration of former Red Sox hitter Carl Yastrzemski, he could have cited his fellow Hall of Fame member's swing, his competitive nature or any of the numerous accolades he achieved during an illustrious career.
Instead, as his team prepared to face the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday, Molitor highlighted one small detail that held particular significance for him: Both were born on Aug. 22.
"When I collected baseball cards, one of the things you do is look at birthdays, and we had the same one. That was kind of an attachment from way back when," Molitor said.
Admittedly one of his favorite places to play, Molitor's return to Fenway this week has revived some cherished memories from his playing days, and none looms larger than when he was able to watch Yastrzemski take batting practice.
"The first time I ever came here, I was playing for the USA collegiate [national] team in 1975," Molitor said. "As one of our warmup games before we headed on to Montreal to play in the Intercontinental Cup, we came to play an exhibition game against one of the Cape Cod league teams. Carl Yastrzemski was on the [disabled list], and he was out here taking batting practice before we had a chance to get on the field. That was a memorable day, to be on the field to watch your favorite players taking some swings."
Fenway proved quite kind to Molitor during his time as a professional, too, as he slashed .323/.365/.476 and stole 20 bases in 106 career games at the park. And though he said his last game there ended with a sprained ankle, the positive recollections of what makes Fenway special are what shine through most brightly these days.
"Lot of memories here. Lot of good things have happened here in Fenway," Molitor said. "It stands alone in character for me, and the uniqueness of the playing dimensions and the idiosyncrasies of corners and caroms. The fans are intimately involved in the game here. It's just a great environment."
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.