ST. LOUIS — Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and his little brother, William, aren’t the only people in baseball rooting for William to join Willson as a National League All-Star this year.
“That would be amazing,” said Bengie Molina, the eldest brother in baseball’s all-time royal family of catching.
“That was something I always thought about,” said Molina, who’s now a broadcaster for little brother Yadi’s Cardinals. “That was something in our heads. Winning championships together, it’s pretty special. Me and José, we did it. Coaching Yadi [as a member of the Cards’ staff] and almost winning with him in ’13 — all those moments.
“But can you imagine that — the All-Star game?” Bengie said.
Willson, the Cubs’ World Series-winning catcher as a rookie in 2016, is expected to earn a third career selection as the National League starter for next month’s game at Dodger Stadium. William, the Braves’ 24-year-old, second-year catcher, is second in fan voting among NL designated hitters, behind Bryce Harper.
The long-shot possibility became much more real with the news Saturday night that Harper suffered a fractured thumb when hit by a Blake Snell pitch in Saturday night's game.
“I mean, they went crazy when they played against each other,” Bengie said of the first-ever Contreras matchup in last week’s Cubs-Braves series at Wrigley Field. “So now you put them in the All-Star game together, it’s super amazing.”
It’s the one thing the three catching Molinas never pulled off.
Bengie, middle-brother José and baby Yadi each has two World Series rings, including a 2002 Angels championship shared by Bengie and José. They have 11 combined Gold Gloves (nine for Yadi; two for Bengie).
Yadi, who’s likely out of the running for next month’s game because of a knee injury, has all 10 Molina All-Star selections.
Whether Harper's misfortune leads to history for the Contreras family, a changing of the guard in family business of MLB catching is at least underway.
And whether the Contreras brothers wind up meeting the bar set by the Molina brothers, the Molinas are enjoying the show so far, if not the comparisons.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Bengie said. “I don’t think it’s fair for them. I don’t think it’s fair for us.
“I think those two guys from what I’ve seen are very, very talented,” he added. “They’re really strong kids. They seem to be very united, family wise. That is powerful man. … Just to watch them. You don’t see that much these days.
“For us it’s very unique to see that, very uplifting. Very exciting for me. Every time I see [Willson], man, this guy has so much talent, it’s unbelievable. I never had half his talent.”
Willson, who’s expected to get traded within two weeks after the All-Star game (if not before the game), has been in the big leagues six years and a week. William debuted to open the 2020 pandemic season, playing four games before returning for a 52-game rookie season last year.
Bengie said he thinks it’s too early to start making comparisons between the two sets of brothers having historically rare shared success in the majors.
There has been a Molina catching in the majors, after all, every year since 1998 — and at least one in the playoffs 14 of the last 20. The Molina run comes to an end this year, with Yadi (who’s away from the Cardinals rehabbing) having said this will be his final season.
For now, Bengie said, he’s just enjoying what the Contreras brothers are doing.
“I love it,” he said. “Because I’ve been there.”
And he’s rooting for that chance for Willson and William to share a clubhouse on the same team, even if it’s just for one game — in part because he said he doesn’t expect them to ever be on the same team for a season.
“It’s not anything negative. It’s just that they’re good,” he said. “They’re both No. 1 catchers.”
As much as anything, Bengie knows after a 13-year big-league career that wasn’t as many years as either of his brothers, just how rare the family success is.
“What our family, as a Molina family, did, I’ve always said it: “When Yadi retires and we’re playing dominoes at home or having fun in the pool, that’s going to come up, how awesome we had of a career,” Bengie said. “But right now, Yadi is finishing. We’ll wait for that.
“We grew up very humble, so we don’t like to talk about us so much. But it’s really rare. I hope people know that it’s really rare to have three brothers in the same position and having success.”
That’s why the comparisons with MLB’s next-gen catching royalty aren’t fair, he said.
“I know they’re talented, and I know they’re going to have probably good careers,” Bengie said. “But when they’re over, then we’ll have this conversation.”