José Agustín Molina Becerra
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 170 lb.
Tinti Molina was an early member of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame.
Molina debuted in 1894-1895 with Matanzas, going 4 for 18 before the season was cut short due to the Cuban War for Independence, in which he played a role. When baseball resumed in 1897-1898, Molina played for Feita, followed by a stint with the Cuba club of 1899 (5 for 26). In 1900, he hit .147 with 1 triple in 67 at-bats for Cubano. In '01, he was 6 for 36 with a triple for Cubano. He played for Habana in 1902 but was only 4 for 57 with no extra-base hits, low totals even for the Deadball Era. In 1904, he was the first baseman for Cuba's San Francisco club, hitting .232/.312/.294. Tinti was 4 for 23 with a double for Almendares when they won the title in 1905, backing up Regino García at catcher and Estéban Prats at 1B. Moving to Habana again in 1906, he produced at a .136/.230/.167 rate and fielded .962 as their starting catcher. He also managed them to a 7-17 season. In 1907, he was a player-manager for Almendares (some sources list Eugenio Santa Cruz as the manager), going 6 for 29 as the backup to Armando Marsans at 1B. His record at the helm was 17-13. In 1908, he had 6 singles in 51 at-bats and also drew 4 walks for Habana, backing up García behind the plate and Julian Castillo at first base. He was 30-13-1 as a skipper. In his final season as a player, he was 2 for 21 off the bench for Habana but had more success as a manager, guiding them to a 28-13-1 record and a title (some sources list Luis Someillán as the manager). He then led them to victory over the Detroit Tigers, 4 games to 2, in a stunning upset.
Molina would spend the rest of his career as a manager and executive in Cuba and the Negro Leagues. He was manager, officer and/or owner of the Cuban Stars for the period 1907-1931, bringing many Cuban legends to the US to play. Agustín also continued to manage numerous Cuban clubs. He piloted Habana to a 9-7 record in 1910 and 16-9 in 1911. In 1912, he moved to Club Fé and was 14-24, but improved to 21-11 in 1913 and led them to their first title in 7 years. He guided the club to a 19-14 finish in 1913-1914. He was 28-15 with Habana in 1915-1916 but they finished second to Almendares. Moving to the Cuban team the White Sox, he had a 6-7 record in 1917. His Cuban Stars team was 21-25 in the 1918-1919 Cuban Winter League. In 1919-1920, he had a pitiful 2-26 record in Cuba. He did not manage again in his homeland for 3 years, when he was given the reigns of the new Santa Clara Leopards club. His first season was abysmal at 14-40 but his next team would become legendary, going 36-11 and easily winning the CWL title. The team would be considered one of the greatest CWL teams ever and boasted Negro League stars Oscar Charleston and Dobie Moore as well as native Cuban greats like Alejandro Oms and Jose Mendez as well as major leaguer Pedro Dibut. Molina's connections in the US and Cuba helped make a two-way path for Cuban stars to play in the Negro Leagues as well as African-American stars to play in Cuba.
Molina never duplicated his 1923-1924 glory. Santa Clara fell to 13-12 in 1924. He led Santa Clara/Matanzas to a 20-28 finish in 1924-1925 then guided a new Cienfuegos club to a 6-6 record in 1926-1927. Returning to Santa Clara in 1929-1930, he was 21-21. He finished up in Habana in 1937-1938, one of 3 skippers they had that year.
In 1942, he and Alfredo Cabrera formed the 4th class of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame. He was one of the first inductees noted more for their managerial and administrative work than for their playing; Emilio Sabourín was the only prior inductee who could meet those criteria.