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August 31, 2012

BP Unfiltered

'The Anthony Molina Incident'

by Sam Miller

Updated, February 2014: In October, Molina entered an Alford plea to two Class 2 felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against an 8-year-old girl. An Alford plea is "a guilty plea... whereby a defendant does not admit the criminal act and asserts innocence [but] admits that the evidence the prosecution has would be likely to persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty." In January, he was sentenced to six years in prison. "With credit for time served, prosecutors say he likely will serve as little as three."

***

You've maybe not heard of this. You've maybe heard of it and forgotten it, or you've heard of it and you remember it, but it's still interesting and awful and just getting worse. Unbearably worse. The background, from Baseball-Reference's page for former top prospect Ben Christensen:

The Anthony Molina Incident
Molina was due to lead off an inning for the University of Evansville. As Christensen warmed up on the mound, Molina took practice swings 24 feet from home plate. Wichita State's coach, Gene Stephenson, taught his pitchers to "brush back" on-deck hitters standing too close. Christensen threw a pitch at Molina's head, the unsuspecting victim looked up just as the ball collided with his face. Molina was taken to the hospital and treated for his injuries. The hitter's vision fell from 20/10 to 20/400. Christensen was suspended for the remainder of the season.

That was in 1999. Molina sued Christensen, and the two settled out of court in 2002 (for a rumored $400,000). His case against Christensen's coaches was dismissed the same year.

In 2001, Baseball America wrote: "Christensen has two well above-average pitches in his 90-94 mph sinker and his slider. As a bonus, he has good command of both of those offerings, as well as his curveball and an improving changeup. He hasn't shown that the Molina incident will affect him." He was the no. 37 prospect in baseball that year.

But quick as can be, it disappeared. He made only three starts the next season, with a 6.48 ERA. He made 12 the next year, with a 6.33 ERA, and was demoted to High-A (as a 25-year-old) the year after that. He ended up with the Mariners system for his age-26 season, pitched in five games in relief, allowed a run per inning, and that was that.

Molina delivered furniture, then worked for a rental-car agency, before getting a job as a credit manager at a bank, according to a 2009 update. And then in May, this May, he was arrested for "five counts of predatory sexual assault of a child and two counts of sexual abuse of a child." Eight-year-old girl, is the accusation. Molina pleaded not guilty. He is out on bail. The trial is set for October.

In the 2001 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, Christensen's comment notes that "Christensen will always be associated with beaning ... Molina." In a sense that's not true, because very few people in baseball associate Christensen with anything anymore, six years after he retired. But then I suppose it is true, because this post exists, and posts like it will continue to be written for years, especially if Molina were to be convicted. Christensen does seem to be doing an okay job moving on. He is now an account vice president at UBS. According to his company profile, "Ben is a board member of the Wichita Crime Commission, as well as being involved with the local YMCA. He spends his spare time with his wife and their two daughters, as well as golfing and hunting."

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

Related Content:  Anthony Molina,  Ben Christensen

12 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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flyingdutchman

Wow, what a strange turn of events. Thanks for posting this.

Aug 31, 2012 12:26 PM
rating: 2
 
Schlom

I was always curious on whether it happened the way it was reported. I have a hard time believing that the Wichita State coach instructed his pitchers to "brush back" batters that were standing too close, too close being 8 yards away from the plate. I can somewhat understand it if they are just a few feet outside the batter's box but I can't imagine a team getting away with throwing balls at batters standing 20 feet away from the plate.

Aug 31, 2012 13:53 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

We wrote about this in 1997... as far as I could tell it was about as egregious as it sounded.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=366

Aug 31, 2012 21:21 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

For some reason, it never clicked for me you'd been writing for BP that long.

Sep 01, 2012 09:59 AM
rating: 0
 
jhardman

I thought Dave Pease was spot on with his article at the time. Ben Christensen should have a criminal record as a convicted felon. If I found out he was working on an account for my business, I would find another account manager.

Sep 05, 2012 14:53 PM
rating: 0
 
delatopia

Something made me google the beaning incident earlier this year and I read some articles, almost exclusively about Molina's struggles (not the legal ones) just trying to come back from surgery and find a steady career. The articles generally had nothing more than a sentence about Christensen, mostly saying things to the effect of "whereabouts unknown."

It does sadden me, the way this story has turned and the revelations that Christensen has a pretty nice life going on after all. He shouldn't be forced to live with it for the rest of his life, but Ben Christensen really did do something so despicable and heinous and malicious in its effect on someone else that it is, essentially, unforgivable.

And now, if the charges are correct, Anthony Molina has done the same thing. That is tragic all around.

Aug 31, 2012 15:04 PM
rating: 3
 
Richard Bergstrom

I remember him being drafted by the Cubs and this issue hanging over his head. Anyway, there's a quote saying he got a standing ovation after the Molina incident at a Wichita State banquet.

http://qctimes.com/article_57544704-2f9a-11de-ac0b-001cc4c002e0.html

Aug 31, 2012 15:08 PM
rating: 0
 
delatopia

Classy. People who hold themselves up as moral and upstanding citizens, applauding an act that was basically evil. But, you know, it was manly.

Aug 31, 2012 18:05 PM
rating: 9
 
eighteen

I don't understand why the penalty for what is basically attempted murder is a mere suspension. That ought to be a bannable offense.

Anyone know who paid the $400k settlement? Hopefully, it was Witchita State.

Aug 31, 2012 16:37 PM
rating: 3
 
Michael
(736)

Most likely an insurance company paid the settlement amount.

Sep 04, 2012 12:18 PM
rating: 0
 
OonBoon

Have to wonder about brain damage or other cognitive factors resulting from the incident propelled him down this disturbing new path. Truly tragic for all involved.

Sep 02, 2012 06:00 AM
rating: 2
 
mikedee

For the record...this article is still being viewed by googlers of Beanball Ben.

Jul 31, 2013 15:38 PM
rating: 0
 
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