Kowano Brothers Managed Major League Clubhouses

Yosh and Nobe Kawano emerged from concentration camps for the Japanese during World War II to become long-standing employees of two of the most historic major-league franchises.  They didn’t play baseball themselves, instead holding jobs that made sure major-league clubhouses were in tip-top shape to support the ballplayers.

Yosh spent nearly 65 years in the clubhouses at Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs, while Kawano had a similar job in the Dodgers organization.  Both brothers are now in their mid-90s.

To read more about the Kowano brothers, follow the link below from the Chicago Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-cubs-kawano-brothers-20171016-story.html

 

Advertisements

Jayson Werth is Fourth-Generation Player in his Family

Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth comes from a family rooted in baseball.  He completed the 15th major-league season of his career, which includes stints with the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Philadelphia Phillies in addition to the Nationals.

Jayson comes from a baseball family which includes four generations.  His great-grandfather, John Schofield, was a minor-league shortstop from 1924 to 1938.  His grandfather, Dick “Ducky” Schofield, was a member of the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960, and played a total of 19 seasons in the big leagues.  His uncle, Dick Schofield, played 14 seasons in the majors, primarily with the California Angels.

Jayson’s stepfather is Dennis Werth who is married to his mother, Kim Schofield, who competed in the 1976 Olympic trials in track and field.  Dennis played in the majors from 1979 to 1982.

To find out more information about Jayson Werth, follow the link below from the Chicago Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-cubs-nationals-playoff-jayson-werth-family-farm-met-20171009-story.html

Yuli Gurriel’s Baseball Lineage has Cuban Roots

Houston Astros first baseman Yuliesky Gurriel is a 33-year-old rookie this year.  The reason for his late start in the major leagues is that he defected from Cuba in early 2016, along with his brother Lourdes Jr.

Before coming to the United States, Yuli had a 15-year career in Cuba, where he played professionally and helped the national team win gold medals in the 2004 Olympics and the World Cup in 2003 and 2005.

He is the son of Lourdes Gurriel Sr., who was a long-time player and coach in Cuba.  Yuli’s brother signed a professional contract with the Toronto Blue Jays last November and played in their farm system this season.

To read more about Yuli Gurriel’s career, follow the links below:

http://m.startribune.com/astros-gurriel-goes-from-cuban-star-to-world-series-hopeful/451787383/?section=sports

http://www.torontosun.com/2017/10/17/gurriel-brothers-keeping-in-touch-during-mlb-playoffs

Fernando Tatis Jr. Getting Off to Good Start

18-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. always had baseball in his sights as his profession.  He began his pro career last year in the San Diego Padres organization.  This season he has put up good numbers including 22 home runs, 77 RBI, and .278 batting average.  He led all Padres minor leaguers with 242 total bases.

Fernando’s father, Fernando Tatis Sr. was a major leaguer from 1997 to 2010, including stints with the Rangers, Cardinals, Expos, Orioles, and Mets.  He compiled a career .265 average, 113 home runs, and 448 RBI.

For more information about Tatis Jr., follow the link below from the San Diego Union Tribune:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/padres/sd-sp-padres-fernando-tatis-jr-groomed-for-big-future-in-baseball-20170928-story.html

There Will Be Another Pedro Martinez in Pro Baseball

Pedro Martinez is one of the most popular players in recent times in the Major Leagues.  He was a Hall of Fame player and is still active in the game as a baseball analyst.

Now there will be another Pedro Martinez in the game, his son Pedro Jr.  The Detroit Tigers announced they have signed the younger Martinez, a Dominican prospect, during the international player signing period.

The 17-year-old is a third baseman, unlike his father and two uncles (Ramon and Jesus)who also pitched professionally.

The elder Martinez agreed with his son’s signing on the condition that the Tigers would allow Pedro Jr. to finish high school.

For more information about the recent Martinez signing, follow the link below from espn.com:

http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/20840483/detroit-tigers-sign-prospect-pedro-martinez-jr-son-baseball-hall-famer-pedro-martinez

Luke Farrell Faces His Father’s Team in MLB Game

In the first time they were on the same field together, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luke Farrell played against his father’s Boston Red Sox team.  John Farrell is the manager of the Red Sox.  It was the first time a son pitched against his father’s team in the majors.

Luke pitched a scoreless inning in the 9th, as Boston won the game, 5-0.

He was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB Draft.  He had made his major-league debut with the Royals on July 1, but then was purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Reds claimed him off waivers on August 9.

John is a former major-league pitcher during 1987 to 1996.  He has managed the Red Sox since 2013 and previously managed the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012.

Luke has two brothers in professional baseball.  Jeremy is a minor-league coach in the Cjhicago Cubs organization, while Shane is a scout with the Cubs.

For more information about Luke’s game against his dad, follow the link below:

http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/255755128/luke-farrell-faces-john-farrells-red-sox/

 

Mel Didier’s Passing Recalls Prominence of Louisiana Baseball Family

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

Mel Didier’s passing on September 11 is a reminder that few baseball families have had as big an impact on a specific area of the country as his family did in South Louisiana.

Didier, whose professional baseball career spanned nearly fifty years, made his mark in baseball as a well-regarded scout and front office executive for several major-league clubs. Named after Mel Ott, he was involved in administrative posts at the start-up of three expansion franchises:  1969 Montreal Expos, 1977 Seattle Mariners, and 1997 Arizona Diamondbacks.  Up until the time of his death, he was a special assistant with the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

Mel’s father, Irby Didier, was the patriarch of the sports family, which included six sons (Pearce, Clyde, Robert, Mel, Raymond, and Gerald) who played, coached, managed, and scouted at various levels of high school, collegiate, and professional baseball. Irby played semi-professionally (for Marksville), as did Pearce (an outfielder with Thibodaux and manager of the Homer Louisiana Oilers) and Clyde (a catcher for the Baton Rouge Red Sticks).

Robert Irby Didier Jr., was a minor-league catcher in 1940 with Greenville in the Cotton States League before going into military service during World War II. He sustained wounds during his service that prevented him from continuing a pro baseball career, although he was later able to participate in semi-pro leagues in the Baton Rouge area.

Gerald Didier, was a second baseman in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization from 1952 to 1954, and then played a season in the Mexican League in 1955. After a season in the South Atlantic League in 1956, he concluded his pro career with Baton Rouge in the Evangeline League in 1957, when he batted a career-high .327.

Raymond Didier played pro baseball with Port Arthur of the Evangeline League in 1940 before becoming the head baseball and football coach at Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now University of Louisiana Lafayette) in the 1950s. From 1957 to 1963, he was the head baseball coach at LSU, claiming an SEC baseball championship in 1961.  Raymond was an assistant coach for the football team during that time period as well.  He then served as the head baseball coach and athletic director at Nicholls State University from 1963 to 1978.  The baseball field at Nicholls State is named in his honor.

Mel’s son, Bob “Hiya” Didier, was a major-league catcher from 1969 to 1974 for the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, and Detroit Tigers. He was selected by the Braves in the fourth round of the 1967 MLB Draft out of Glenn Oaks (LA) High School and reached the majors with the Braves at age 20.  After his playing career ended in 1976, he got he first job as a minor-league manager in the Braves organization at age 28.  Over his career, he managed in the minors for 15 seasons, including stints at the Triple-A level in the Astros and Blue Jays organizations.  Bob served on the big-league coaching staffs of the Oakland A’s (1984-1986) and Seattle Mariners (1989-1990), as well as scouted in the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs organizations.

Beau Didier, son of Bob Didier and the family’s fourth-generation ballplayer, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 40th round of the 2008 MLB Draft, out of Bellarmine High School in Tacoma, Washington.  However, the catcher/infielder committed to LSU, where he lettered in three seasons (2010-2012).

Mel earned letters in football (1944-1945) and baseball (1947) at LSU before beginning his professional baseball career as a player in 1948 and 1949. However, he soon turned to coaching at the high school level, where his 1953 Baton Rouge Catholic High team captured their first state championship baseball title.  That team, which Didier dubbed “one of the greatest high school teams in American history,” featured four players who went on to sign pro contracts and seven who accepted college scholarships to play baseball.

He served as a scout in the Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Braves, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, and Baltimore Orioles organizations. He was involved in player development roles for the Montreal Expos, Seattle Mariners, and Arizona Diamondbacks organizations, as these franchises were getting off the ground.  Some of the major-league players whose careers he influenced included Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza, and Eddie Murray.

At the college level, Didier was the LSU freshman team football coach in 1967 and 1968, head baseball coach at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now ULL) in 1981-1982, and athletic director at USL in 1982.

Mel received the “Legends in Scouting” Award in 2009, presented by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation. He authored “Podnuh, Let Me Tell You a Story,” a book about his baseball life.

Mel died at age 90 in Phoenix, Arizona.