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Madera baseball community is in mourning

For The Madera Tribune

This portrait, taken in 2019, hangs on the wall at Perko’s Cafe in which Mike and Kelly Molina owned for many years. Wednesday, Mike Molina passed away from complications of pneumonia. From left are Tommy, Chris, Benji, Sammy, Mike, Kelly and Anthony.


I woke up Wednesday like any other day. I picked up my phone and checked out social media and couldn’t believe what I saw.

At first, I thought this couldn’t happen. Then, I thought how could this happen? Then, I thought this was a sick joke people were posting.

Then, I read posts from his wife, his son, his good friend and many others and came to the realization that one of people I respected the most passed away way too young.

Mike Molina was a man of great character that had three loves in his life — his wife Kelly, his five sons (Anthony, Chris, Tommy, Benji and Sammy) and grandson and baseball. He passed away Wednesday at the youthful age of 42 from complications of pneumonia.

At first, I couldn’t believe the news until I read the posts from Kelly and sons Anthony and Chris.

I remember one of the first times I got to know Mike through Madera American Little League baseball. It still took me a while to realize there was more than one Molina kid. When I found out there were five, I asked Chris how do I keep track of them. He said it was easy. Just remember air conditioning and the network that shows Atlanta Braves baseball — AC TBS. From there, remembering all the Molina kids was easy.

Not only was Mike an ambassador for baseball, but he was also integrated within the Madera community. He and his wife Kelly are long-time owners of Perko’s Cafe. They have really made the family-style restaurant into a family. Their kids work there, they work there and their employees are loyal and have stayed for years. That says a lot about the leadership of both Mike and Kelly.

Mike was an advocate for Madera baseball. He wanted the kids in Madera to enjoy the game of baseball and be able to have successful careers. He created the South County Colts baseball team so that kids in Madera had an outlet and had a chance to compete against some of the best teams in the state.

They were quite successful and Mike was proud of his team each and every time they played. He frequently contacted me at The Madera Tribune and asked that his team get into the newspaper so the community knew how well the kids did.

Not only was he respectful in his requests, but he was also understanding of the timeframe and space I dealt with. He knew his teams would eventually appear in the Tribune and the community would know how great this group of Madera kids did against some of the top teams in the state.

I now challenge all of the players who played for Mike with the South County Colts, the Madera American Little League and any other teams he coached to live up to Mike’s standards. Live up to his dream of being successful baseball players and successful men and women. Live up to what Mike stood for with respect and dignity while gaining success. That’s what I challenge former players of Mike Molina.

I am feel truly honored to have known Mike and the rest of his family. My heart goes out to them and deepest condolences to the Molina family.

Below are some of the Facebook posts devoted to Mike.

Wife, Kelly Molina: I literally don’t know how or in what way I can say this. My husband, my best friend, my LIFE, Mike, has passed away. No words can describe what I’m feeling right now. My heart is physically breaking. He was a huge staple in this community and touched hundreds of lives. This feels completely unreal. He gave me the best life and the best five kids I could ever ask for. He will, in no way I can describe, be missed more than he’ll ever know. RIP Mikey. I love you more than anything in this world. I never knew I could hurt this bad.

Son, Anthony Molina: No words can describe how our family is feeling right now. I loved my dad so much he gave me the best life and always supported me no matter what. I love you dad. 42 years on this earth was not enough, but I promise to take care of mom and be the man of the family you shaped me to be. This is the hardest post I’ve ever had to write. I’ll make sure to tell my kids one day how great their grandpa was. I’m glad to be your lil’ twin because I know I can look in the mirror everyday and see you. Till I see you again dad, I love you.

Gina Belmontes: This morning we lost a hugh part of our family. Our son-in-law Mike passed. Our hearts are broken. He is an amazing husband, dad and son. He loved our daughter well. They have raised five awesome sons. He supported our community sports. The baseball family has lost a major player. Mike, we love you and miss you very much. Your memories will live in our hearts forever.

Mike Gentry, District 10 Little League Administrator: It is with a very heavy heart that District 10 says goodbye to one of our most dedicated valley youth baseball and Little League supporters, Mike Molina. Madera American Little League lost a rock from the core of its program today. The children of Madera, and across the Valley, will be missing a tremendous mentor, leader, and supporter as they go forward.

Madera American Little League: MALL is in deep sadness this week as we lost the man that has kept us together. This man Mike gave his heart and soul every single day for this league and these kids.

I could go on a write a book about how much good things he has done for this league.

That 3rd base coaching box will never be the same.

I know there isn’t words that can describe the pain everyone is going through so how about this.

His life will be celebrated forever.

Robin Ward: Words can’t even describe this loss. Mike, you are such an amazing coach, dad, and friend. When you handed Mikey his first jersey, No. 31, you became our family. We had some amazing adventures with the Colts and gained priceless friendships as well as such an amazing team and ride. You brought our little scrappers into an amazing team and future athletes/men. We are so blessed to have known you and you will be missed tremendously. Our baseball family will be forever changed by your spirit, and Mikey continues to wear that number to this day.

Vanessa Macugay: I want to let you know our prayers are sent your way. Please know you and your boys will get through this. Our community is strong and we help you stay positive and heal. Thank you Mike for all you have done in the community of Madera you will be missed.

Kelly, I asked the Lord to give you strength and healing. I also ask the Lord to keep you healthy and sane so that you could be there for your boys.

Much love, Macugay family.

Mandy Marmolejo; There are no words to express how much the Marmolejo family love and appreciate the Molina family. Mike took my son in for years treated him like one of the family, took him to baseball tourneys out of state when we weren’t able to, gave my son his first job at their restaurant and took him on vacations. You coached many kids and were great at it. You were truly a great guy and will definitely be missed. Kelly and kids, we’re all here for you and will continue keeping your family in prayers

Jose Silvas: Big Mike, you will be missed. You, my cousin, was a pillar in your community. You had a great impact in a lot of people’s lives in your life time. You will be truly missed. Now, who I’m I gonna text for the next hot bat. You were the reason last few years we got the family together for Christmas as we did growing up.

Idania Garza: Our condolences to the Molina family. Mike will be missed dearly. He not only was a great coach to our son, Jordan, but also a great mentor and friend. Thank you for always pushing and believing in him when he didn’t think he can pull it out. Mike and Kelly were like his second set of parents when we were not able to make his games. Thank you for being the greatest coach he had. May God bless all his family, friends and love ones through this time. We love y’all

Steve Gallegos: It feels like someone hit my heart with a sledgehammer. I lost one of my best friends today way to soon. We were supposed to be on the road headed to Reno for tournament today. Not only was Mike my best friend, brother, but my favorite was we called him my baseball wife. When I wasn’t with my own family, I was on the road with him and his family going to battle on the baseball field with him by my side. I could always rely on him to keep the team together. He was a gentle giant that married his soul mate Kelly. I got to see the love they had for each other. Mike’s kids were everything to him and he didn’t just talk, he walked the walk. If he wasn’t coaching them, he was just at whatever game or event they had going on. He was there. A true Dad. Not only to his own kids, but to half of Madera’s kids, as well. Some who didn’t have dads in their lives, Mike would take them in as they were his own. He paid for numerous kids’ uniforms, equipment, fees to play, hotel, travel expenses and so on. He did so much for baseball and his community. I could go on and on for hours what he has done for other people. We use the term he would give the shirt off his back for you loosely but for Mike, it’s 1000 percent true. It’s going to be so freaking hard to step on the baseball field without bawling my eyes out knowing my buddy will not be by my side, if I ever do again. Even though I know he is in a good place with our Heavenly Father, it’s going to hurt and stick with me for a while. It’s a good scar but still hurts so bad. I love his family like my own and please keep them in heavy prayers because they lost their rock today. His family was his everything, so let’s be there for them. RIP buddy aka baseball wifey.

Jamie Gallegos: The world lost an amazing man. My heart is aching for his family, for my husband and for the community. I can’t help but smile through my tears about all the jokes Mike used to say about him and Steven. They have coached so long together that they were a couple out on the baseball field. Mike used to say he was the better half. And he was probably right.If I ever slipped and said he was the wife, he would correct me and say, no Steve’s the wifey. If I ever couldn’t get a hold of Steven, I would text Mike because chances are, he was with him at the baseball field. This all seems unreal. I can’t think of the Colts without picturing Mike. Please keep his wife and boys in prayer. We love you guys and we are here. He loved his family so much. He was such a good guy.

Pedro Machuca: Thank you Mike for letting us be part of the baseball family. You have no idea how big of an impact you had on Noah’s life as he started his young career with the Colts. All of your high fives, good job and text messages for practice meant the world to him. Anytime he heard the name, Coach Mike, he had a smile on his face because he knew it meant baseball. You are truly going to be missed but never forgotten.

Sandy Marmolejo: You made so many memories for so many families. The baseball community will never be the same. You’re one of the best and all the kids over the years you’ve coached will all always remember the great times they had whether they were little leaguers, All-Stars or part of the Colts family. You will be missed.

Araceli Carmona: My son woke me up to the news of Coach Mike passing away. I can’t even described how they are doing and how it devastated us as a family. Molina family, the boys and I send our condolences from the bottom of our heart. This man, Coach Mike, was a great father figure for my boys. Thanks to his loving and care, my boys had the opportunity to have a better childhood through baseball. Thanks to him, my kids did not end up in the street with other bad habits. Coach Mike and Mama Kelly is one of the best love stories and their greatest friendship was sure to be admire. Thank you, Coach Mike for always taking my son Diego on his baseball trips and giving me the opportunity to go see him play. You gave us a chance to a better life thank you from the bottom of my heart. We all love you so much. RIP “Dad Mike.”

David Watkins: We lost a great man in baseball. Mike Molina was one of the most selfless person I have ever met. He’s paid for lots of kids to play, given rides to practices and tournaments. He’s even let the kids stay in his hotel just so they wouldn’t miss the opportunity to play. He never asked for anything except, “can your son play this weekend?” Mike was a class act on and off the field. He never played favorites, he played to win. The hardest part was telling my son what had happened to his beloved friend/coach. You have left a huge hole in our hearts Mike, but you will never be forgotten! Rip Mike Molina

Miriam Martinez: I’m lost for words. Sorry for your loss. I’m praying for you, Kelly, and your whole family. We had some awesome times with you guys and we are thankful for always treating us like family on baseball trips. My family will always appreciate everything your family did for us. Mike was an awesome coach for my boys. We will never forget you. Much love for the Molina family.

Griselda Ponce: We are in disbelief. Today we received heartbreaking news Mike Molina is no longer with us. He will truly be missed. Thank you for everything you did for the whole baseball community and for the SC Colts baseball family. We had so many fun, amazing, crazy memories traveling with the Molina family. May you rest in peace. Prayers for the Molina family to find comfort and strength during these hard times. We love you alll. The Ponce Family.

Kristina Martinez: We are very sad and in disbelief of the news we woke up to this morning. Our hearts are broken for our friends, the Molina family, our deepest condolences. There are no words to take away your pain. Mike was Tony’s long time friend/boss and best man at our wedding. He will truly be missed. I only knew mike the last 7-8 years, but Mike was with us on two very special days in our lives — my wedding and the day after Becky was born. Mike was Becky’s first visitor at the hospital when she was born. He was a big teddy bear holding my tiny baby girl and anytime she saw Mike, she knew that he was daddy’s friend and he saw her at the hospital. Mike, you will always hold a special place in our hearts. RIP Mike.

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