ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Major League Baseball learned of Yadier Molina’s greatness during the first postseason start of his career, in the 2004 World Series versus the Boston Red Sox.
The St. Louis Cardinals were down three games to none, and catcher Mike Matheny was benched for Game 4 in St. Louis. A rookie, Molina had played in only 51 games that season.
But early in Game 4, he came to Matheny for advice, after he noticed Boston slugger Manny Ramirez relaying signs to David Ortiz at the plate about which pitch was coming.
“I said, ‘When he comes up, make sure he knows that you’re on to it,’” Matheny said according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I didn’t know that he was going to take his mask off and get in (Ramirez’s) face. I was sitting over there saying, ‘That’s probably not what I would have done … but that will work.”
Molina met Ramirez at home plate in the top of the fourth, and had no problem standing up to that season’s American League home-run champ.Boston manager Terry Francona came out to squash the chances of the altercation becoming physical, and talked about the incident in his memoir “Francona: The Red Sox Years.”
When Francona heard what Molina was accusing Ramirez of, he turned toward plate umpire Chuck Meriweather: “Chuck, Manny doesn’t even know our signs.”
Francona then asked Ramirez, “You don’t know our signs, do you, Manny?”
Ramirez replied, “No.”
That’s just a hilarious “Manny-being-Manny” side note to the main story, that Molina demanded respect from his first moments in the big leagues. Ramirez had more home runs, than Yadi had hits in the 2004 season. And remember, this was before the steroid rumors surrounded Ramirez’s career.
Molina was 21-years-old, but wouldn’t let Ramirez, 32, break one of baseball’s unwritten rules.
Molina’s dedication to protecting his sport will certainly be remembered after his Hall-of-Fame career comes to a close.
The Cardinals host the Red Sox for a two-game series, Tuesday and Wednesday, both games begin at 7:15 p.m. and can be heard on KMOX 1120 AM.