Molitor reflects on three seasons in Toronto

Twins manager won 1993 World Series championship with Blue Jays

Molitor reflects on three seasons in Toronto

TORONTO -- Visits to Toronto are always a little extra special for Twins manager Paul Molitor.

The man known to his peers as "The Ignitor" during his playing days has long held a special affinity in his heart for the only Canadian franchise. While Molitor spent only three of his 21 Major League seasons playing for the Blue Jays, he was a key ingredient to the team's second of back-to-back World Series championships in 1993.

Molitor made the All-Star team twice and won a Silver Slugger award while north of the border and will be fondly remembered around these parts as the World Series MVP during the 1993 season. The Hall of Famer would go on to hit .500 (12-for-24) in Toronto's six-game World Series victory over the Phillies, scoring 10 runs while hitting two home runs to go with eight RBIs.

With the Blue Jays celebrating their 40th season in franchise history in 2016, Molitor reflected on his time in Toronto during the Twins' only visit this season to Rogers Centre.

"To think that the Blue Jays have been here for 40 years is pretty amazing itself," Molitor said. "You think of the old Exhibition Stadium and playing there as an opponent; the cold Aprils and some of the things we endured.

"I was fortunate to be a little part of the history here by playing three years. Two of them were a little bit strange in that they were cut short in '94 and in '95 we started a bit late, but I do have the highlight memory of coming in here and helping this organization defend its title while making some really good friendships."

Toronto's offensive lineup in '93 featured several of the most feared hitters in the game, with the top five in the order of Devon White, Roberto Alomar, Molitor, Joe Carter and John Olerud -- nicknamed by fans as WAMCO -- providing season-long versatility and a multi-faceted offensive attack.

Molitor, however, was quick to point out that it was the potency of the entire roster which enabled the Blue Jays to defend their World Series crown.

"We were a complete team," Molitor said. "The starting pitching was strong, we had a good bullpen and top to bottom our lineup was really good. It was just someone's idea to put the top five together and that was before even Rickey Henderson showed up. The WAMCO thing was a fun thing, but it was never something that I thought made a lot of sense in terms of what that team was about."

While Molitor hasn't been able to reach any of the Blue Jays' 40th anniversary celebration games due to his commitment with the Twins, the 60-year-old skipper still keeps in touch with several of his teammates, citing how many are still around the game in some capacity.

Primarily a third baseman and designated hitter during his playing days, Molitor met with former Blue Jays president Paul Beeston over the weekend, and the two shared countless memories from their time together in Toronto.

Somewhere along the lines, Molitor and Beeston discussed the packed crowds of over 50,000 fans per game filling Rogers Centre -- then known as SkyDome -- in '93, and Toronto's sellout crowds this weekend also brought back memories of an infectious and enjoyable atmosphere for baseball in Toronto.

"I talked to Paul a bit about those big crowds, and he said it was amazing how this team has been re-embraced by the Canadian community, certainly across Ontario, but also across the nation," Molitor said. "TV ratings are up, and the response to the team is similar to the early 90s. That's good for this team and it's certainly good for baseball. The more that we see our game supported, it can only speak to the positivity and direction we're taking."

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.