1987 was the year of streaks for the Brewers. They opened the season with 13 straight victories, only to lose 12 in a row shortly thereafter. Molitor's hitting streak began with a double in the second inning off Kirk McCaskill on July 16 at County Stadium. Molitor's previous longest hitting streak was 17 games in 1982. The previous Brewers' record was 24 by Davey May in 1973. May would later be known for being traded to Atlanta for Hank Aaron.
Molitor's streak survived three close calls. Molitor connected for last at-bat hits in games 16 (8th inning single at County Stadium against the White Sox, 24 (9th inning double at Chicago) and 28 (9th inning home run at Baltimore).
When Molitor was at the stage Utley is now, he seemed to pick up momentum. He had four hits in game 34 at Cleveland and three hits against the Indians in game 35, giving him the longest hitting streak in the American League since DiMaggio.
The Brewers came home on Friday, Aug. 21 to face the Kansas City Royals with Molitor sitting on 35.
A fourth-inning double extended the streak to 36. Still, it was less than a national media frenzy. NBC had the Game of the Week in those days, but their coverage on Saturday basically was a couple of sound bites from a brief interview that they set up for me to do with Molitor after Friday night's game. They didn't even send a reporter to Milwaukee.
I was 24 years old, in just my second month at WTMJ-TV as the weekend sports anchor. I had come back home to Wisconsin after three years at a station in Peoria, IL. I was reporting on the Brewers team that I grew up following as a fan and Molitor's streak was bigger than anything I'd covered to that point.
Molitor removed the drama early in Game 37, singling in the first inning against the Royals. On Sunday, Aug. 23, Molitor singled in the 5th inning to stretch the streak to 38. The game wasn't even televised. I still remember Bud Selig clapping wildly out on the loge after the hit. By reaching 38 games, Molitor moved past Tommy Holmes' 37-game streak in 1945 for the seventh-longest streak in major-league history.
After a day off, on Tuesday night, Aug. 25, Molitor singled in the sith inning against Cleveland to push the hitting streak to 39 games. While starting to get more attention, it still wasn't a huge national story. The Brewers media relations director at the time, Tom Skibosh, told Channel 4 that week that only about 50 extra press credentials were requested. Can you imagine what it would be like today?
Because I worked weekends, I was scheduled to be off on Wednesday, Aug. 26. I was at home with my wife in our Menomonee Falls apartment when I got call in the morning from an ESPN producer wondering if I would be interested in doing a live shot before the game that night at County Stadium. ESPN was not nearly as big as it is now, but it's still hard to believe that they didn't send their own reporter. I jumped at the chance.
I closed my ESPN live shot and threw it back to John Saunders and Larry Burnett by saying: "You may not have heard of a young righthander by the name of John Farrell, but he will start for the Indians tonight and try to stop Paul Molitor's hitting streak." That's exactly what he did. Molitor went 0-for-4, Rick Manning was booed for winning the game and not allowing Molitor to get another at-bat and the streak was over.
Molitor hit .405 during the 39-game hitting streak. It's still the second-longest hitting streak (to Pete Rose's 44) since DiMaggio's 56-game monster. And, 19 years later, it's a streak still worth remembering.
Dennis Krause joined OnMilwaukee.com as a contributor on June 16, 2006. He is a two-time Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year and a regional Emmy-award winner. Dennis has been the color analyst on home games for the Milwaukee Bucks Radio Network for the last 10 years. He has also been involved with the Green Bay Packers Radio Network for 16 years and is currently the host of the "Packers Game Day" pre-game show.
Dennis started his broadcasting career as a radio air personality in the Fox Valley and Milwaukee.
He spent three years as a sportscaster at WMBD radio and television in Peoria, Illinois before joining WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee in 1987 as a weekend sports anchor. Dennis spent 16 years at Channel 4, serving as its Sports Director and 5 and 6 pm sports anchor from 1994-2003.
Dennis grew up in Hartford, Wisconsin and attended UW-Oshkosh. He lives in Thiensville with his wife and two children. He serves as the Community Resource Director for the Mequon-Thiensville School District.