Chris Duncan dies at age 38

Former major league player Chris Duncan died on September 6, 2019, at age 38.  He had played five seasons in the big leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2005 to 2009. His 22 home runs in 2006 helped the Cardinals win the NL pennant and go on to defeat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

Most recently Duncan had been a sports radio host on a local St. Louis station.

Duncan is the son of Dave Duncan, a former major-league player and a long-time coach for the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals.  Chris’s brother, Shelley, is also a former major-league player from 2007 to 2013 with the Yankees, Indians, and Rays.

To read more about Chris Duncan, click here for a recent article from the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette.

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Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman to retire after 2019 season

Marty Brennaman is slated to retire as the Cincinnati Reds’ radio  broadcaster after 47 years in the booth.  He was recognized as a major contributor to the game of baseball when he received the the Ford C. Frick Award in ceremonies at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.

His son, Thom Brennaman, is also a Reds broadcaster on the TV side and occasionally shares the radio booth with his father. Thom has been in the broadcast booth for over 30 years.

The Brennamans are one of only a handful of father-son broadcasters to have worked in the majors.  Others include Harry, Skip, and Chip Caray; Jack and Joe Buck; Harry and Todd Kalas; and Sid and Chad Hartman.

For more information about Marty Brennaman, click here for a recent article in cincinnati.com.

Taylor and Tyler Rogers: rare set of MLB twins

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

There have been over 19,600 major-league ballplayers in the history of the game. Only twenty of them have the distinction of being a member of a set of twins. When Tyler Rogers made his major-league debut on August 27 in a relief appearance for the San Francisco Giants, he joined his brother Taylor as the tenth set of twins to play in the big leagues. Taylor had previously reached the majors in 2016 with the Minnesota Twins and has been a strength in their bullpen since then. Taylor picked up his 21st save on the same night as Tyler’s debut.

The rare twins are among a total of 395 sets of brothers to wear major-league uniforms. The Rogers pair are the first set to play in the majors since Damon and Ryan Minor in 2000.

After playing together for Chatwood High School in Lincoln, Colorado, the Rogers brothers took separate paths in their professional careers. Tyler went on to play for Austin Peay University while Taylor played for the University of Kentucky, although he had been selected out of high school By Baltimore in the 37th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Taylor signed with the Twins after being drafted again in 2012 in the 11th round. Tyler was selected and signed by the Giants in the next year’s draft.

Although the Rogers twins are identical, Taylor is a southpaw who averages over ten strikeouts per nine innings, while Tyler is a right-handed submarine-style pitcher relying more on pitching to contact to get batters out.

Here’s a quick rundown of the other major-league twins.

The first pair of twins to play in the majors were Bill and George Hunter between 1909 and 1912. They were followed by Joe and Red Shannon, who played as 18-year-olds on the same team in Joe’s only major league season in 1915.

Ray and Roy Grimes made their major-league debuts in 1920, the only season Roy would play. A third Grimes brother, Kenneth, played in three minor-league seasons, while Ray’s son, Oscar, would also play in the majors from 1939 to 1946.

Claude and Bubber Jonnard appeared in the majors in the early 1920s. It would be another 30 years before the next set of twins would reach the majors, when 22-year-old Eddie and Johnny O’Brien formed the double-play combination for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1953.

Mike and Marshall Edwards had brief careers during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They also had a younger brother, Dave, who also played five major-league seasons.

Stan and Stew Cliburn both played for the California Angels during the 1980s, but not at the same time. After their playing days, the pair held managerial and coaching positions together for several minor-league teams in the Minnesota Twins organization.

Jose Canseco is the most noteworthy of all the major-league twins. He was American League Rookie of the Year in 1986, the AL MVP in 1988, and a six-time all-star who amassed 462 career home runs. His lesser-known brother, Ozzie, played only 24 major-league games spread over three seasons, never hitting a home run.

Ryan Minor is most remembered for having taken Cal Ripken’s spot in the lineup when Ripken ended his streak in 1998 for most consecutive games played. Minor played four seasons with Baltimore and Montreal, while his twin Damon played four seasons with San Francisco.

Possibly following the Rogers brothers with distinction as the next major-league twins are brothers Luis Alejandro Basabe (Diamondbacks organization) and Luis Alexander Basabe (White Sox organization). The native-born Venezuelans are active this year, working their way through the minors.

Boston’s current all-star shortstop Xander Bogaerts is a twin whose brother, Jair, played in the minors at 17 and 18-years-old, but never made it out the Dominican rookie leagues.

Over the years, there have been numerous former major-leaguers with twin brothers that also couldn’t get past the minors, including Vern Law (1950-1967), Russ Nixon (1957-1968), Brian Doyle (1978-1981), Tony Fernandez (1983-2001), and Mike Mimbs (1995-1997).

Twin brothers have never pitched against each other in the majors. Maybe one day soon we’ll see the Rogers twins taking their turns on the hill for opposing teams.

It’s good to have another Yastrzemski in baseball

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

Carl Yastrzemski had one of the best nicknames in baseball. Yaz. In between the careers of Ted Williams and David Ortiz, he was the most popular player in Boston. He delighted the Red Sox Nation for 23 seasons. He was a Triple Crown winner, an MVP, a three-time batting champion, and an 18-time all-star. A first ballot Hall of Famer.

It’s been 36 years since Yaz donned the Red Sox uniform. He didn’t have the controversy of Williams surrounding him or the flair of Ortiz’s relationship with the fans and media. In his quiet sort of way, Yaz approached the game in a workman-like manner and produced big results. All the same, he’s been missed. He turned 80 years old last week.

But now there’s a new Yastrzemski in baseball, Yaz’s grandson Mike. He was drafted out of high school by his grandpa’s team, but he chose to play baseball at Vanderbilt instead. After being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 14th round in 2013, he floundered somewhat in the minors for six seasons. He never really stood out, certainly not showing the potential of his grandfather.

The 28-year-old was traded to the San Francisco Giants during spring training this season. After hitting 12 home runs in his first 40 games for Triple-A Sacramento, he made his major-league debut with the San Francisco Giants on May 25. At the time, the Giants were seemingly on a path to repeat as the cellar dweller in the NL West, as they were nine games under .500.

Yastrzemski has responded with a break-out season and been a pleasant surprise in the Giants’ resurgence after the All-Star break. They are currently battling Arizona for second place, one game under .500, albeit 21 games behind division-leading Los Angeles.

His slash line with the Giants was .272/.320/.541 as of Saturday. He’s hit more home runs (17) in 73 games than he ever hit in a full season in the minors. Three of those came in a game on August 16 in the Giants 10-9 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks. His grandfather’s only three-homer game during his lengthy career came in his 15th season, on May 19, 1976, at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium.

Yastrzemski’s baseball bloodlines also includes his father, also named Mike, who was a secondary phase draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in January 1984. His father spent five seasons in the minors, eventually reaching the Triple-A level with the Chicago White Sox organization but never getting a shot in the big leagues. Grandpa Yastrzemski is quick to point out that he stayed in the background while his son was the one who helped young Mike learn the game.

Yastrzemski is one of five current players in the majors whose grandfather also played in the majors. Others include Charlie Culberson (Leon Culberson), Rick Porcello (Sam Dente), Derek Dietrich (Steve Demeter), and Nolan Fontana (Lew Burdette).

Will he be as good as his grandfather? Probably not, although Yaz’s career started out rather modestly too, with a 266/.324/.396 slash line in his rookie season in 1961. It’s too early to tell though. Perhaps Mike will be a late-bloomer.

In any case, it’s good to hear the Yastrzemski name being announced in the starting lineup in big league stadiums again. We needed another Yaz.

Brothers Kyle and Bradley Zimmer look forward to facing each other in the big leagues

Brothers Kyle and Bradley Zimmer have both reached the majors, after they were both highly-touted draft picks–Kyle a first round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 2012 and Bradley a second round pick of the Cleveland Indians two years later.

Pitcher Kyle made his debut with the Royals early this season, but has spent most of the year in Omaha.  Outfielder Bradley played parts of the 2017 and 2018 seasons with Cleveland, but has missed most of 2019 due to injuries. 

Both are hoping they will have major-league jobs next year and look forward to the day when they can face each other.

Click here to read more about the Zimmer brothers at sdnews.com.

Ronald Acuna Jr. has extended baseball family

Atlanta Braves sensation Ronald Acuna Jr. knows baseball. He also knows family, especially his baseball family, which is one of the most extensive in professional baseball.  Ronald got to see most of them play in the Venezuelan Winter League while he was growing up.

He is the son of Ronald Acuna Sr., who played in the minors from 1999 to 2006.  His grandfather, Romualdo Blanco, also played in the minors from 1971 to 1977.

Four members of the Escobar family who played in the majors are related to Ronald Jr.:  Alcides, Kelvim, and Edwin are cousins, while Jose is his uncle.  Major-leaguer Vicente Campos is also a cousin.

Click here to read more about Ronald Acuna Jr. and his family from yahoo.com.

Grilli father-son duo share MLB player experience with Tigers

Pitcher Steve Grilli had a relatively short major-league career, consisting of 70 games spread over four seasons, including three with Detroit and one with Toronto during 1975 to 1979.

Steve’s son, Jason, had a pitching career that spanned 15 years from 2000 to 2017.  Jason played for nine different major-league teams, including the 2006 season with Detroit when they appeared in the World Series.  He made an all-star appearance with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013.

Click here to read more about the Grillis at mlive.com.