Nevin father and son to face each other

When Phil Nevin was named the manager of the Los Angeles Angels, replacing fired manager Joe Maddon, it set up a family reunion between Phil and his son Tyler in early July.

Tyler is an outfielder/first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles. The two teams are scheduled to play a four-game series starting July 7.

Click here to read more about Phil and Tyler Nevin.

Alex Cora looks up to big brother Joey

Alex Cora is in his fourth season as manager of the Boston Red Sox, who won the World Series in his first year in 2018. He looks to his older brother Joey a long-time major-league coach, as a father figure. Joey is currently with the New York Mets. Both brothers were former major-league players, too.

Click here to read more about the relationship between Alex and Joey Cora.

Chris Garagiola follows in his grandfather Joe’s shoes in the broadcast booth

Joe Garagiola had two baseball careers. One as a major-league player in the 1940s and 1950s. One as a renowned broadcaster.

Now his grandson Chris is getting an opportunity in the broadcast booth for the Arizona Diamondbacks, following that part of his grandfather’s legacy.

Chris’s father, Joe Jr., was formerly the general manager of the Diamondbacks.

Click here to read more about Chris Garagiola in The Athletic.

Kody Clemens makes MLB debut with Detroit

Kody Clemens, son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, made his major-league debut with the Detroit Tigers on May 31, 2022, against the Minnesota Twins. In four at-bats, he drew a walk, as Detroit won, 4-0.

Kody was a 3rd-round selection of the Tigers in the 2018 MLB Draft, out of the University of Texas. He had originally been drafted out of high school in 2015 by the Houston Astros, one of his dad’s former teams.

Kody’s brothers Koby and Kacy also played professionally, although not making it to the big leagues.

Click here and here to read more about Kody’s debut.

Flashback: Phenom Boo Ferriss took the baseball world by storm in mid-1940s

When Dave “Boo” Ferriss was playing baseball for tiny Shaw High School in Shaw, Mississippi, he probably never anticipated he would eventually become a national sensation in major league baseball. But that’s exactly what happened when Ferriss made his major-league debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1945. He proceeded to put together two of the best seasons ever by a big-league newcomer. In the process he became a favorite of the New England area, while his improbable ascent to the majors also became a nation-wide story.

Ferriss took a circuitous route to the big leagues. After high school, he received the first athletic scholarship to play baseball at Mississippi State College (now Mississippi State University). But he cut his college stay short when he signed with the Red Sox in 1942 and played his first pro season with Greensboro in the Piedmont League. However, he put his baseball future on hold when World War II broke out. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was stationed at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas as a physical training instructor for the servicemen. He was fortunate to continue developing his baseball skills by playing on base teams that involved competition against major-leaguers who were serving in the military.

When Ferriss was discharged from the Army in late February 1945, because of his asthma condition, the 23-year-old set his sights on resuming his pro baseball career. Having pitched only 130 innings at Greensboro, he expected to spend more time in the minors and was initially assigned to the Red Sox’s Louisville minor-league affiliate. Yet with the shortage of players in the majors due to the ongoing war efforts, his Louisville manager recommended the Red Sox give him a look at the big-league level.

He got a call-up to the Red Sox without ever pitching for Louisville and made his major-league debut on April 29, 1945, pitching a five-hit shutout against the Philadelphia A’s. At first, he was labeled by the press as “just another war-time replacement player.” But then he proceeded to run off a string of seven more winning decisions, which included setting an American League record with 22 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings to start his career. His astonishing eight-game winning streak was broken on June 10 against the Yankees. Ferriss was a breath of fresh air during a difficult time for the sport, allowing fans to forget about some of their favorite stars who were off serving their country.

Since he had literally come out of nowhere to post his spectacular beginning of the season, the handsome Ferriss immediately became the darling of Boston fans who were starved for a local hero. For the previous two seasons, they had missed seeing their best players, Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, and Dom DiMaggio, all of whom were still serving in the military. Furthermore, the Red Sox were struggling to stay competitive among the top half of the teams in the American League. Ferriss came along at the right time to energize the team.

Baseball fans across the nation became aware of Ferriss’s exploits when The Sporting News, the pre-eminent baseball publication of the time, featured a story about him on June 7. The piece included a caricature of Ferriss with the caption “Ferriss Wheel,” illustrating he had been on a whirlwind effort to defeat all six of the American League teams he faced during his first six weeks of the season.

The Sporting News cover page showing the “Ferriss Wheel”

News wire photos featured Ferriss in a variety of settings, including many involving his personal life. The Mississippi Delta boy was often characterized as a humble ex-serviceman who had taken the majors by surprise. He was portrayed as a “phenom” for his on-field results, well before the label came into common use many years later.

Press photo showing Ferriss answering his fan mail at home in Boston

Ferriss also contributed to his notoriety by demonstrating he was a good hitter. Red Sox manager Joe Cronin often used the effective left-handed hitter in pinch-hitting roles. Sportswriters compared him to Babe Ruth because of his combined pitching and hitting capabilities.

By the end of July, Ferriss had a 17-4 record and seemed to be well on his way to a 30-win season, a major milestone even for the most experienced major-league pitcher. However, his asthma condition started to affect his performance in August, and he wound up winning only four more games during the remainder of the season. He still managed to finish his first campaign with an impressive 21-10 record and 2.96 ERA.

By the end of the season, Ferriss had attained a new level of popularity. He began to be featured in print advertisements for products like Wheaties and Gillette.

Ferriss featured in Wheaties ad

Gillette razor advertisements showcased the new star

Off-season stories in periodicals like Baseball Digest and Baseball Magazine often referred to his Mississippi Delta roots in recounting his spectacular rise in fame.

Ferriss on the cover of Baseball Digest magazine

With most major-league players returning to baseball in 1946 after the war had ended, some baseball pundits warned that Ferriss’s debut season might have been a fluke because there had been a prevalence of replacement players on major-league rosters the year before. Boston fans looked forward to Ferriss’s sophomore season along with the return of Williams and the other young war veterans. After Williams batted against Ferriss during spring training, he squelched any further concerns about Ferriss’s legitimacy as a big-time pitcher.

Williams’s assessment of Ferriss turned out to be correct. With the backing of a potent Red Sox offense, Ferriss put together winning streaks of 10 and 12 games, on his way to winning 25 games for the season. He defeated the vaunted New York Yankees in four of his five appearances and thus was a huge contributor to the Red Sox’s dominance in the American League. Even today, the only major leaguer to win more games during his first two seasons than Ferriss is Hall of Famer Grover “Pete” Alexander, who won 47 in 1911-1912.

His outstanding performance served to extend his status as a celebrity in the baseball community. He appeared in ads for Hood’s ice cream and Raytheon air humidifiers, while attracting coverage by national magazines such as Collier’s and LIFE.

Ferriss demonstrating a home humidifier with Raytheon representatives

Winning 104 games, the Red Sox captured the American League pennant by a whopping 12-game margin over Detroit. The Yankees were a distant third, 17 games back of the Red Sox. Boston made its first World Series appearance since 1918 when Babe Ruth was still playing for them. The Red Sox were favored over the opposing St. Louis Cardinals, who were making their fourth Series appearance in five seasons.

With the World Series tied after the first two games, Ferriss drew the starting assignment in Game 3 in Fenway Park, facing off with the Cardinals’ Murry Dickson. Ferriss, who had fashioned a 13-0 record at his home ballpark during the regular season, continued his Fenway magic by holding the Cardinals scoreless on only six hits, as the Red Sox won, 4-0. Thus, Boston was confident with his taking the mound again in the deciding Game 7 contest. Yet he wasn’t as sharp as in his previous outing and was forced to leave the game in the fifth inning after giving up three runs. The Cardinals wound up winning the game and Ferriss missed out on getting a World Series ring.

Ferriss and Dickson before Game 3 of 1946 World Series

After his magnificent season, Ferriss was compared to the league’s best pitchers, Bob Feller and Hal Newhouser, both of whom were future Hall of Famers. Red Sox fans had good reason to be optimistic about the team’s future, with a solid pitching staff led by Ferriss and Tex Hughson and a potent offense spearheaded by Williams.

For Ferriss, the optimism would soon fade in 1947 when he suffered a shoulder injury that ultimately cut his career short. He tried to play through the injury that season, because that’s what pitchers were expected to do in that era. Even though he managed to win 12 games, he wound up with a “dead arm” that curtailed his playing time for the next three years and ended his major-league career as a player in 1950. After attempting a comeback during two full minor-league seasons, he finally retired after the 1952 season at the age of 30.

Ferriss served as Red Sox pitching coach from 1955 to 1959, followed by a storied career as head baseball coach at Delta State University, near his Mississippi hometown. His Statesmen teams won 639 games and appeared in three Division II College World Series. He was named to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2002. He was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1964. The annual award for the most outstanding collegiate baseball player in Mississippi is named for him.

Ferriss’s plaque in the Red Sox Hall of Fame at Fenway Park

Even with all the attention and accolades Ferriss received during his first two big league seasons, he maintained his humble nature then, as well as throughout his lifetime. In reminiscing about his career, he often referred to Williams, Pesky, DiMaggio, and Doerr as the “big guys” on the team, never putting himself in the same class despite his record-setting contributions.

Regardless of Ferriss’s opinion of his own importance during that era, the fact remains he made as big an impact on the game as his teammates and others in the league during those first two seasons. If he were playing today, recording those types of performances within the current media environment, he’d be at the top of social media trend lists. He’d frequently be featured on ESPN’s Top 10 highlight plays, and sports talk shows would be touting him as one of the game’s elite players. He was that sensational.

Boston Red Sox (1945-1950)

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi, richard@thetenthinning.com

Richard is an author and baseball historian from New Orleans. A native of Shaw, MS, he has been a member of Society for American Baseball Research since 1983. He is a contributing writer for CrescentCitySports.com. He maintains his own website TheTenthInning.com.

Brother Edwin and Alexis Diaz collect saves on the same day

May 17, 2022 was a special day for the major-league Diaz brothers. Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets and Alexis Diaz of the Cincinnati Reds accomplished a feat only two other brothers have done in major-league history–record a save on the same day.

Edwin got his save in the second game of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals, while Alexis garnered his save against the Cleveland Guardians.

Todd and Tim Worrell did it on June 13, 1997, while Ravelo and Josias Manzanillo pulled it off on JUne 30, 1994.

Click here to read more about the Diaz brothers on mlb.com.

Astros’ new shortstop Jeremy Pena son of former MLB infielder

Jeremy Pena got his chance at a starting major-league job with the Houston Astros when all-star Carlos Correa chose free agency and signed with the Minnesota Twins.

Pena has responded favorably with a .279 batting average, seven home runs and 21 RBIs through May 21, 2022.

Jeremy’s father, Geronimo Pena, was a major-league infielder from 1990 to 1996, primarily with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Click here to read more about Jeremy Pena in the Boston Globe.

Identical twins Taylor and Tyler Rogers play against each in Giants-Padres game

Identical twins Taylor and Tyler Rogers, both pitchers, played against each other for the first time when the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres opposed each other on April 11, 2022.

Taylor had recently been traded to the Padres, setting up the likelihood the twins would soon play in the same game.

The Giants lost the game, with Tyler getting the losing decision, as he gave up the Padres go-ahead run in the sixth inning. Taylor pitched in the ninth and got credit for the save.

The brothers are only the tenth set of twins to play in the majors and only the second set to play as pitchers. (Stu and Stan Cliburn were the other twins who pitched.)

Click here to read more about the Rogers twins from mlb.com.

There’s a fourth generation of Carays in the broadcast booth.

Identical twins Chris and Stefan Caray, 22 years old, have recently secured jobs as the radio announcers for the Amarillo (Texas) Sod Poodles, a Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

If their last name sounds familiar, yes, they the great-grandsons of Harry Caray, the popular broadcaster for the Cardinals, White Sox, and Cubs.

The twins’ father is Chip Caray, the current broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves. Their grandfather is Skip Caray, the long-time broadcaster for the Braves.

Click here to read more about the Caray twins in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Could Griffin Conine become the new “Mr. Marlin”?

Griffin Conine currently plays in the Miami Marlins organization, a team with which his father Jeff Conine previously played. Jeff was one of the original Florida Marlins in their 1993 inaugural season. He was a two-time all-star during his five seasons with them. A popular player with Marlins fans, he was tagged with the nickname “Mr. Marlin.”

Now Griffin is trying to make his way up the Marlins organization and follow in his father’s footsteps. The 2021 season was perhaps a good indicator of what is to come. He hit 36 home runs between Single-A and Double-A teams in the Marlins farm system. Could he eventually become the new “Mr. Marlin”?

Click here to read more about Griffin Conine.