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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.

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