Stanford Baseball Feature - Randy Molina
April 10, 2006
by Kyle McRae
A quick look at the 'Getting To Know' section of Randy Molina's biography in the 2006 Stanford Baseball media guide shows an interesting entry as his pre-game ritual.
'I polish them twice before every game,' he says of the work he does on his game cleats. 'I do it the night before and then put a second coat on the day of the game. Keeping them nice sends a message.'
It's something he's been doing since high school, while baseball is something he's been doing since he was three years old when his father, Jose, volunteered to coach a tee-ball team, allowing Randy to began his baseball career at that ripe young age.
He continued to play in the youth leagues of his hometown of South Gate, California, and was also a member of several traveling teams.At the age of 13, Molina got what he considered his big break when he began to play in the Los Angeles RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), a league sponsored by Major League Baseball and designed to promote baseball in inner city areas.
Playing in the league gave Molina the valuable exposure and experience he needed. He was twice named the Los Angeles RBI Student Athlete of the Year (2003, '04) after being selected the organization's Player of the Year in 2001. He played in the RBI World Series, where traveling RBI squads from around the country met for a tournament in the same city the Major League Baseball All-Star game was held each season.
'Without RBI it would have been a little more difficult,' said Molina, who also gained a lot of exposure when he earned a spot on the USA Junior National team in the summer of 2004. 'I think I would have eventually gotten out there, but RBI brought me exposure, sent me to some big camps and definitely made it a lot easier.'
The Los Angeles RBI league also offered other programs off the field, including help with the college application process and preparing for the SAT's that Molina claims was instrumental in his journey to Stanford.
'RBI was a big factor of my being here at Stanford,' he confirmed.
His parents had a lot to do with it as well.
'My parents were really hands on with both school and baseball,' said Molina. 'The rule in my house was if you don't get good grades you can't play. I've had that academic requirement throughout my life. If I got grades, I would get the equipment and the money to go to tournaments. That's kind of how it worked.'
'If I did well in school, they supported me as much as they could in baseball,' he continued. 'I always got the grades so I could play. I wanted to pay them back for all the hard work they did, and I figured getting a good education might do that.'
The work Molina put in on the baseball field and in the classroom got him to Stanford, but he got an education like none he had ever experienced when he arrived at Stanford in the Fall of 2004. Like many other talented Cardinal freshmen, it came from a spot on the bench.
'It was difficult to not play right away, because I had never been in that situation before,' remembered Molina. 'But I took advantage of the opportunities I did have in scrimmages and the personal one-on-one time I received with the coaches to try to make myself better. If I did get in, I just tried to contribute as much as I could.'
Molina didn't get in much during his rookie season last year but did get to show off his talent for the Madison Mallards in the summer of 2005, when he hit a solid .279 with 10 doubles and 26 RBI for the first half champions of the Northwoods League.
This year has been much different for Molina, who has emerged as Stanford's starting designated hitter and leads the team's regulars with a .410 batting average.
'Sitting on the bench last season was hard, so when I got the opportunity I didn't want to let it slip by,' he professes.
Take a look at his history - there's about as much of a chance of that happening as there is a pair of dirty shoes surviving his pre-game ritual.