Farrell: End to Molitor streak comes 'full circle'

O'Driscoll, scorer of 1987 game, pays Boston manager surprise visit at Miller Park

May 11th, 2017

MILWAUKEE -- Red Sox manager John Farrell hosted a surprise visitor at Miller Park this week for a trip down memory lane and a reminder of the role Farrell played 30 years ago in one of the most unforgettable games in Brewers history.

Farrell was a rookie in 1987, and so was Tim O'Driscoll, who had just begun serving as the official scorer at County Stadium. O'Driscoll's full-time debut happened to coincide with Paul Molitor's historic hitting streak, which had grown to 39 games -- seventh-longest in Major League history -- by the time a 25-year-old Farrell took the mound for the Cleveland Indians in Milwaukee on Aug. 26 for his second big league start.

"The most amazing thing is that it's been 30 years," Farrell said.

There were a number of amazing things about that day, starting with the fact that Farrell was not even supposed to pitch. The only reason he did was that the regularly scheduled starter, Rich Yett, had turned an ankle in his previous outing.

While Farrell was battling butterflies, O'Driscoll remembers overhearing Molitor say before the game -- it was common practice at the time, O'Driscoll said, for official scorers to visit the clubhouse -- that he had some apprehension about facing a rookie pitcher. Molitor was a pro at preparation, and he preferred to hit against more familiar opponents.

A day-long rain drove attendance down to 11,246, but those fans rose to their feet for each Molitor at-bat as he went 0-for-4 against Farrell, including a hard-hit grounder to second base in the bottom of the eighth inning. O'Driscoll was compelled to call an error when first baseman Pat Tabler dropped the throw.

Farrell scattered three hits in nine scoreless innings of a duel with the Brewers' Teddy Higuera, who pitched his own shutout through the top of the 10th. Cleveland closer Doug Jones took over in the bottom of the 10th inning and hit Rob Deer with a pitch leading off the inning. Pinch-runner Mike Felder replaced Deer and was at second base when Rick Manning singled home the winning run -- leaving Molitor on deck.

To this day, it might be the only game at which the crowd booed the home team's walk-off win. It certainly is the only such game Farrell has ever witnessed.

"I'll give Molitor tremendous credit," O'Driscoll said. "He was the first guy that ran down to congratulate [Manning]."

The next day, Farrell approached Molitor at the end of the Brewers' batting practice and offered congratulations. The rookie asked Molitor for a signed ball, which Molitor inscribed, "To John, Wishing you a great career. My best always. Paul Molitor."

"A total pro," Farrell said Thursday.

Thirty years later, it was Farrell being asked to add his name to a similar ball. Molitor had sent a similar baseball up to O'Driscoll, who stored it in a drawer all these years waiting for a meeting with Farrell. When the Red Sox visited Milwaukee this week for the first time since 2003, O'Driscoll brought the ball to Miller Park and sought a meeting.

He and Farrell sat in the visiting manager's office on Wednesday and shared their memories.

"He couldn't have been more kind and gracious," O'Driscoll said.

"After all these years," Farrell said, "I didn't think it would come full circle here."