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Book Reviews Molina BookMolina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty by Bengie Molina with Joan Ryan. Simon and Schuster. 272 pages. 2015

This book tells of the love story between father Pai, and oldest son Bengie Molina. It is an autobiography of Bengie as well as the incredible story of a family that produced three major league baseball catchers (José, Yadier and Bengie), who each have earned two World Series championships.

Pai was a very talented baseball player who had the potential but never made it to the major leagues. In fact, Bengie writes that people will tell you that Pai was a better player than any of his sons. Bengie does not reveal until late in the book why Pai didn’t play in the major leagues.

Pai taught and coached youth baseball, which was his passion. His rules were about the same thing: respect—for coaches, umpires, teammates, teachers, parents, the game, yourself. In addition to baseball, Pai enjoyed drinking beer and playing dominoes with his friends.

Mai (Bengie’s mother) was a good fit for Pai. She was lively and gregarious enough to fill Pai’s silences. And what luck to find a girl who loved baseball as much as he did.

As far as his faith, Bengie writes “My baptism and communion were pretty much the extent of my church experience. My parents weren’t even married in a church – church weddings cost too much. As a child, on the few occasions I found myself in the Vega Alta church, I didn’t feel that God would live in such a place. The door was thick and heavy, and when it closed behind me, I imagined being sealed inside an enormous crypt, cut off from everything alive.”

I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan and my favorite player is Yadier Molina. Bengie tells the story that Yadier was the only five-year-old in the history of Little League to infuriate an umpire enough to get tossed from a game (for calling the umpire an obscene name).

Bengie started his major league career with the California Angels, later playing for the Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers. He retired in 2010 but stayed in the game as a coach.

Bengie writes of not being happy in his marriage, indicating that they were two unhappy strangers who shared two beautiful daughters and little else. He writes of being attracted to another girl named Jamie while married, who he would later marry. This did not go over well with Pai, who saw him as being disloyal and not putting his family first. That put a strain on Pai and Bengie’s relationship, something that was very painful for Bengie, as Pai would refuse to take Bengie’s phone calls.

Sadly, not long after the two were reconciled, Pai died at age 58 of a massive heart attack on his beloved field across the street from their home where he taught and coached baseball. That is where his wake was held, on the spot he had crossed a million times with his bags of balls and bats. Bengie writes that this was where he had lived, in the seam between baseball and family, and this was where he had taken his final steps.

Bengie writes about Pai’s wake: “A light rain fell as we carried Pai’s closed casket out of the tent and onto the baseball field. The baselines and batter’s boxes had been carefully chalked. We carried the casket to first base, then second and third. The mayor delivered a play-by-play of the action, as if Pai were rounding the bases. I picked up first base, Cheo second, and Yadier third. The mayor’s voice grew louder and more excited as we carried Pai toward home. His last trip around the diamond. A thousand people leapt to their feet.”

Bengie writes that playing in the Major Leagues was not Pai’s dream. His dream was to be a good father and husband and raise good sons. Through baseball, he taught his sons how to be men. That was his life’s work.

This is a very well written book and one that I couldn’t put down.

Tim Keller's New Book on PrayerPrayer Book Club – Won’t you read along with us?

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller

 Last week Tammy and I completed reading and discussing Tim Keller’s book Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just. Our next book will be his new book on prayer, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. Won’t you read along with us?

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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