Molina settles with Christensen

By Jim Callis
February 5, 2002

Anthony Molina reached an out-of-court settlement with Cubs pitching prospect Ben Christensen, who beaned him while warming up before a 1999 college game, on Tuesday, according to Christensen’s agent, Steve Canter.

Canter said both sides agreed to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.

Molina was a junior second baseman and the leadoff hitter for Evansville in an April 23, 1999 game at Wichita State. Christensen was the junior ace of the Shockers. When Molina ventured out of the on-deck circle and within 20 feet of home plate, Christensen fired a warmup pitch at him. The ball struck Molina above his left eye, breaking bones and permanently damaging his vision. At the time, Wichita State pitching coach Brent Kemnitz was quoted as saying that he taught his pitchers to brush back hitters in that situation.

Though Molina returned for his senior season in 2000, he batted just .266 and any chance he had for a professional career effectively had ended. He played two games in the independent Frontier League in 2000, going 1-for-3 with two strikeouts. He now works as a rental agent for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Henderson, Ky.

Canter characterized the incident as an accident and said that Christensen had no intention of hurting Molina.

“No one felt worse about Anthony Molina’s injury than Ben Christensen,” Canter said. “Ben was inconsolable for hours after the accident. If Ben were a bad guy, he wouldn’t have been so upset. Ben is a bright, articulate, warm individual.

“Now he can focus on getting ready for the season and helping the Cubs. At the same time, he hopes Anthony can move on with his life and be successful too.”

Molina’s attorney, Rand Wonio, couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Per the terms of the settlement, Molina withdrew a suit in Kansas state court that charged Christensen with battery and sought punitive damages for committing an intentional act. That case was to have gone to court Tuesday in Wichita.

Christensen also was removed from a pending federal suit in Kansas City, Kan., that has been stuck in appeals. Molina also sued Christensen for battery and continues to sue Kemnitz and Wichita State head coach Gene Stephenson for negligence in that case.

Christensen, who was suspended for the remainder of the 1999 college season, was drafted 26th overall that June by the Cubs and signed for $1,062,500. He reached Double-A within a year after turning pro, but was hampered by shoulder tendinitis in 2000 and required shoulder surgery to repair some fraying and tighten the capsule last year. Canter said that Christensen threw off a mound last week in Arizona and said he was 100 percent.