Daniel Bard pitched for the Colorado Rockies on July 25, 2020, and got the winning decision with 1 1/3 innings pitched in relief. He last pitched in the majors for the Boston Red Sox in 2013 and last appeared in the minors in 2017. He had been a first-round selection of the Red Sox in the 2006 MLB Draft. Beginning in 20123, he began having problems with performance anxiety related to changes in his pitching delivery and eventually had to quit playing.
Luis Rojas made his major-league debut as manager with the New York Mets in 2020. He is the son of Felipe Alou, former major league player and manager. (Alou’s true family name is Rojas.) Alou was the manager of the Montreal Expos (1992-2001) and San Francisco Giants (2003-2006), following a 17-year major-league career as a player.
Click here for more information about Luis Rojas in a New York Daily News story.
In the Toronto Blue Jay’s second game of the 2020 season against Tampa on July 25, their starting lineup consisted of five players with either a father or brother as major league players. A sixth Blue Jays player with family ties pitched in relief.
Manning the Blue Jays infield were first baseman Travis Shaw (son of Jeff Shaw), second baseman Cavan Biggio (son of Craig Biggio), and shortstop Bo Bichette (son of Dante Bichette). The designated hitter was Vlad Guerrero Jr. (son of Vlad Guerrero Sr.), and playing left field was Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (brother of Yuli Gurriel). Brian Moran (brother of Colin Moran) came into the game in the 8th inning as a reliever.
The family relationships of these six players doesn’t end there.
Cavan Biggio’s brother Conor was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2014 in the 34th round out of Notre Dame, but did not sign to play professionally.
Bo Bichette’s brother Dante Jr. was a minor leaguer in the Yankees and Nationals organizations.
Vlad Guerrero’s uncle Wilton Guerrero played in the majors for eight year, while his cousin Gabriel Guerrero played with the Reds in 2018. Another cousin Gregory Guerrero played in the minors in the Mets organization. Another uncle Julio Guerrero played in the Red Sox organization.
Lourdes Gurriel’s father Lourdes Gurriel Sr. was a Cuban national player and manager.
Click here for the boxscore of the July 25 game.
Frank Bolling died on July 11, 2020 at age 88. He was a 12-year veteran of the majors, primarily with the Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Braves. He was a two-time all-star at second base for the Braves and a Gold Glove Award winner for the Tigers. His career slash like was .254/.313/.366.
Frank Bolling was the brother of Milt Bolling, a seven-year veteran shortstop for the Red Sox, Senators, and Tigers. The brothers briefly played together with the Tigers in 1958.
For more information about Frank Bolling, click here.
After eight seasons in the minors, Mel Rojas Jr. took his skills to Korea in 2017 and became a legitimate slugger. His number so far this season in the KBO indicate he has a chance to become a Triple Crown winner. Last season he hit 24 home runs and 104 RBIs to go along with a .322 batting average.
Rojas Jr. is the son of Mel Rojas Sr., a major-league relief pitcher for 10 seasons during 1990 to 1999. Most of Rojas Sr.’s career was spent with Montreal, where he posted a 29-23 record and 3.11 ERA.
For more information about Mel Rojas Jr. click here.
Tyler Soderstrom was the first-round selection of the Oakland A’s in the 2020 MLB Draft. The high school catcher from Turlock, CA is the son of Steve Soderstrom, who was the sixth overall pick of the San Francisco Giants in the 1993 draft. Steve wound up pitching briefly for the Giants in 1996.
The father-son duo became only the tenth in major-league history to be selected in the first rounds.
Click here to read more about Tyler Soderstrom.
Trei Cruz was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft. He had been an infielder at Rice University for the past three seasons.
He is the son of Jose Cruz Jr., who had been a first-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 1995 after a college career at Rice. His father went on to a 12-year career in the majors that included one Gold Glove. He was also the runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 1997,
Trei is the grandson of Jose Cruz Sr., who played 19 seasons in the major, primarily with the Astros and Cardinals. Cruz Sr., whose brothers Tommy and Hector were also major leaguers, was a two-time National League all-star.
If Trei eventually makes it to the majors, the Cruz family would become only the fifth three-generation family in major-league history.
For more information about Trei Cruz, click here.
If you followed baseball in the 1980s and 1990s, you were well aware of Jose Canseco, the slugger for the Oakland A’s. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1986 and the AL MVP in 1988, when he led the league in home runs (42) and RBI (124). Altogether, he hit 462 career home runs to go along with 1,407 RBI during his 17-year career. He also played for the Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, Yankees, and White Sox.
You may not be as familiar with Jose’s twin brother, Ozzie, who appeared briefly in the majors, playing 24 games across three seasons for the A’s and St. Louis Cardinals from 1990 to 1993.
The Cansecos are one of only 10 sets of twins to ever play in the majors.
For more information about the Canseco brothers, click here for an article from sportscasting.com.
Former major-league pitcher Matt Keough died on May 1, 2020 at age 64. He pitched for nine seasons in the big leagues, primarily with the Oakland A’s from 1977 to 1983. Unfortunately, he is best remembered for having one of the worst won-lost records in a season, when he finished 2-17 in 1979. During his entire career, he was 58-84 with a 4.17 ERA.
Matt was the son of former major-league outfielder Marty Keough who played from 1956 to 1966 and nephew of Joe Keough, a major-league outfielder from 1968-1973, and Thomas Keough, a minor-leaguer in 1954.
For more information about Matt Keough, click here.
In my research for my book Family Ties about baseball’s relatives a few years ago, I came across hundreds of facts about father-son combos and brother combos over the course of baseball history. The most fascinating for me was the game in which Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. played as teammates in 1990. It was the first time that situation had ever occurred, and it has only been accomplished once more since the Griffeys.
When you think about what must transpire for this feat to occur, there are several factors that must fall in place at the right time. The father must have a lengthy career, at least 20 years as a professional. The son must begin his pro career right out of high school and reach the big leagues by age 20 or 21. For the father and son to be major-league teammates, a team will likely be compelled to go out of its way to bring them together at the same time.
The odds of all these factors happening are extremely high, especially when you consider there have only been 200+ father-son duos in the history of the majors.
Griffey Jr. was the No. 1 overall pick out of high school by the Seattle Mariners in the 1987 MLB Draft. He made his major league debut at 19 years of age in 1989 and joined his father Ken Griffey Sr. (with Cincinnati) as the first father-son combo to play in the majors at the same time. A year later Griffey Jr. was an American League All-Star and one of the most promising stars in baseball.
Griffey Sr. had been drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1969 and made his major-league debut with them in 1973. He became part of Cincinnati’s dynasty teams of the 1970s known as the Big Red Machine. His career took him to the Yankees, Braves, and back to the Reds by 1988. By then he was on the downside of his career, serving as a pinch-hitter and occasional starter in the outfield and at first base. However, he provided a valuable veteran presence in the Reds clubhouse.
In mid-August 1990, the Reds informed Griffey Sr. he was at risk of losing his roster spot. He decided to announce his retirement on August 18, in order to help the club with a roster problem. With the prospect of Griffey Sr. being able to team up with his son for Seattle, the Reds agreed to take him off the voluntarily retired list and put him on waivers, so that he could become eligible to play for another club. When Seattle signed him on August 29, Mariners manager Jim Lefebvre insisted Griffey Sr.’s signing was not a publicity stunt. He said, “This is not a dog-and-pony show. We’re looking for a spark.” The Mariners were looking to capture their first-ever winning season since joining the league in 1977.
Their historical first game as teammates occurred on August 31 against Kansas City. 40-year-old Griffey Sr. played left field and batted second in the lineup, while Junior took his normal centerfield position and batted third.
Facing Royals right-handed pitcher Storm Davis, both father and son singled in the bottom of the first inning and later scored to help the Mariners take a 3-0 lead. They both went hitless during the remainder of the game that the Mariners won 5-2.
On September 14, the father-son duo hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning in the Mariners’ game against the California Angels.
Griffey Sr. didn’t hang up his spikes after the 1990 season. He returned with the Mariners in 1991, where he continued to team up with his son until May 31, when he retired after 19 major-league seasons.
Over a decade later, in 2001, 41-year-old Tim Raines and his son 21-year-old Tim Raines Jr., became the second father-son duo to play as teammates in the same game. Raines Jr. was called up late in the season by the Baltimore Orioles, who then made a request to Montreal to trade for his father. On October 3 against Toronto, Raines Sr. made a pinch-hit appearance, while his son was the starting centerfielder. Both father and son started the next day as outfielders against the Boston Red Sox. Raines Sr. retired in 2002 after 23 seasons in the majors.
On at least two other occasions, father-son combos were active players at the same time, although only the fathers were in the majors. Juan Beniquez played in the majors until 1988 (his 17th major-league season), while his 18-year-old son was in his second season in the Kansas City Royals farm system. Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez was active in 2011 (his 21st major-league season), when his 19-year-old son was a rookie in the Twins minor-league system.
Following are examples of other noteworthy father-son duos.
49-year-old pitcher Jamie Moyer was still playing in the majors in 2012 when his son Dillon was drafted out of high school but opted to attend college instead.
45-year-old Fernando Valenzuela and his 23-year-old son Fernando Jr. played together for Mexicali in the Mexican League in 2006. The elder Valenzuela had been a major-league pitching star from 1980-1997, amassing 173 career wins.
53-year-old Rafael Palmeiro and his 28-year-old son Patrick were teammates for independent league team Cleburne Railroaders in 2018. The elder Palmeiro had been a 20-year major-league veteran, collecting over 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.