A Tale of Two Griffeys: One Very Good, One Dominant

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

There have been nearly 250 father-son combinations to play in Major League Baseball. History shows that it’s pretty rare for both the father and the son to excel on the diamond at a high level comprising leadership in batting or pitching categories, all-star selections, and post-season appearances.

Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Tony Perez, and Earl Averill had major-league sons with marginal success as big-leaguers themselves, while Joe Wood and Ed Walsh’s sons were in the majors only long enough for the proverbial “cup of coffee.” Pete Rose’s son spent 21 years in the minors, but managed to get into only 11 games in the Big Show. The sons of Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle never made it out of the low minor leagues.

On the other hand, there are a few good examples of father and son careers that were both highly successful. One of those was Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr. was simply one of the best players in baseball history. In 1998 The Sporting News came up with their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players of all time which included Griffey Jr. who was then only 28 years old.  He joined legendary players such as Ruth, Aaron, Cobb, Williams, Mays, Musial, and DiMaggio.  The ultimate honor for a baseball player is his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Griffey Jr. came closest of any player to being a unanimous Hall of Fame inductee in 2016, garnering 99.3% of the baseball writers’ votes.

Griffey Jr. had the distinction of being the first player in history to appear with his father in the same major-league game. 19-year-old Griffey Jr. and his 40-year-old father, Ken Sr., were teammates with the Seattle Mariners in 1990 when they first played together on August 21.  Three weeks later they hit back-to-back home runs in the same game.

While the Mariners’ roster featuring both Griffeys may have been somewhat of a publicity stunt at the time, Griffey Sr.’s own career was nothing to sneeze at. His performance is often overshadowed by his son’s superstardom.  Even though he wasn’t a Hall of Famer like his son (Griffey Sr. received a meager 4.7% of the votes in his only year of eligibility in 1999), Griffey Sr. did manage to log a few All-Star seasons and claim two World Series rings.

Here is more background and comparison of the careers of the two outstanding players.

Both Griffeys were born in Denora, PA, which was also the birthplace of Stan Musial. Griffey Jr. shares the same birthday as Musial.

Griffey Sr. began his professional career at age 19 in 1969, being drafted in the 29th round by the Cincinnati Reds.  However, he didn’t make his major-league debut until August 25, 1973 at age 23.  Griffey Jr. was the first overall pick in the 1987 MLB Draft by Seattle when he was 17 years old and made his major-league debut on April 3, 1989.  Griffey Jr. went on to play in 22 big-league seasons, while his dad recorded 19 seasons.  Both were outfielders.

Griffey Sr.’s career slash line (Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage) was .296/.359/.431 compared to Junior’s .284/.370/.538. The biggest contributor to their difference in Slugging Percentage was Junior’s 630 career home runs, currently sixth on the all-time leader list.  Griffey Sr.’s highest season was 21 home runs, as he managed to hit only 152 during his career.  Junior led the American League in round-trippers in four seasons and hit 40 or more in seven seasons.  Griffey Sr. had the edge over his father in Batting Average, as he compiled nine seasons with .300 or better.

Griffey Jr. was selected to 13 All-Star teams while his father appeared on three, including an All-Star Game MVP Award in 1980. Griffey Jr. also captured the award in 1992.

In addition to Junior, Griffey Sr. had another son, Craig, who took up a pro baseball career from 1991 to 1997. Craig appeared in seven minor-league seasons in the Mariners and Reds organizations but managed to reach the Triple-A level for only a handful of games.  Griffey Jr.’s son, Trey (Ken Griffey III), pursued football over baseball as his sport of choice.  He wound up playing wide receiver for the University of Arizona for four seasons, had tryouts with the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins, but has yet to make an active NFL team roster.  With no expectation of pursuing a pro baseball career, Trey was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 24th round of the 2016 MLB Draft as a tribute to his father (Griffey Jr.’s uniform number with the Mariners was 24.).

Griffey Sr.’s biggest claim to fame, and perhaps his most significant accomplishment over his son, came as a member of the fabled Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine” teams in the early-to-mid 1970s. He helped the Reds win the World Series in 1975 and 1976.  Junior played on three post-season teams, two with Seattle and one with the Chicago White Sox, but his teams reached the American League Championship Series only once.

Griffey Jr. attained a peak salary of $12.5 million in four seasons with Cincinnati. He earned a total of $151.7 million during his career.  Of course the economics of baseball were different when Griffey Sr. was playing.  He collected a little over $10 million during his entire career, with his highest annual salary being $1.15 million for Atlanta in 1987.

The Griffeys rank among the top major-league father-son duos for combined career performances. They lead all pairs in career hits, and rank second all-time behind Barry and Bobby Bonds in games played, runs scored, home runs, and RBI.

In addition to the Bondses, other successful major-league father-son combos include Felipe and Moises Alou, George and Dick Sisler, Gus and Buddy Bell, and Mel and Todd Stottlemyre.

Former big-league stars Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Craig Biggio and Dante Bichette currently have sons in the low minors trying to follow in their father’s footsteps. Perhaps one of these will be successful in forming the next great MLB father-son duo.

 

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Patrick Mahomes II Makes His Way in Pro Football

Patrick Mahomes II will make his NFL debut in Week 17 of the 2017 season with the Kansas City Chiefs and figures to be their quarterback of the future.  He was a first-round draft choice (10th overall pick) of the Chiefs out of Texas Tech in the 2017 NFL Draft.

He is the son of Pat Mahomes Sr., a former major-league pitcher during 1992 to 2003.  Appearing as a relief pitcher for most of his 11 seasons, Mahomes Sr. compiled a career record of 43-29 and 5.47 ERA.  He made a post-season appearance with the New York Mets in 1999.

Mahomes Jr. was a star baseball player in high school.  He was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 37th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, but decided to pursue a football career instead.

For more information about Pat Mahomes Jr. and his father, follow the link below from kansascity.com:

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/sam-mellinger/article192126014.html

 

 

Vlad Guerrero Jr. Pulling for his Dad to get Hall of Fame election

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is making a name for himself as one of the top prospects in all of baseball.  The 18-year-old just finished his second pro season in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, compiling a .323 batting average, 13 home runs, and 76 RBI.

He is the son of Vladimir Guerrero Sr., who is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the second time this year.  In the 2017 voting , he garnered 71.7 % of the votes, and seems to be a sure bet to be inducted in 2018.  Guerrero Sr. played 16 seasons in the majors, primarily with the Montreal Expos and California Angels.  He banged 449 home runs and 1, 496 RBI during his career that spanned 1996 to 2011.

Vlad Jr. authored a piece for the Players Tribune, calling for votes for his father into the Hall.  The link to the article follows:

https://www.theplayerstribune.com/vladimir-guerrero-jr-dad-hall-of-fame/

Joel Skinner New Skipper of Rochester Red Wings

Former major-league player and manager Joel Skinner was recently named the manager of the Rochester Red Wings in the Minnesota Twins organization.

Skinner managed the Cleveland Indians for 76 games in 2002, but has an extensive minor-league career in managing with the Indians and Chicago White Sox organizations.

Skinner is the son of Bob Skinner, also a former major-league manager with the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres. Bob had a 12-year major-league playing career with Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and St. Louis.

More more information about Joel Skinner’s career, follow the link below from Democrat & Chronicle:

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/sports/baseball/minors/2017/12/20/red-wings-name-joel-skinner-manager/968758001/

 

Melvin Upton Jr. gets new life with Indians

Melvin Upton Jr. was once a star-level player with Tampa Bay, and then his career took a downturn after signing a lucrative contract with the Atlanta Braves.  The low point of his career came last year, when he signed a minor-league deal with the San Francisco Giants.  However, due to a thumb injury, he played only 12 games at the Triple-A level.

Upton recently signed a minor-league contract with the Cleveland Indians, with the hopes of getting back to the big leagues.

Upton’s brother, Justin, re-signed with the California Angels for the 2018 season. In 2013-14, the brothers played together with Atlanta.

For more information about Melvin Upton Jr.’s signing with the Indians, follow the link below from fangraphs.com:

https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/melvin-upton-signs-with-makes-sense-for-indians/

 

Frank Lary dies at age 87

Frank Lary, former major-league pitcher from 1954 to 1965, recently died at age 87.  Known for his propensity to defeat the New York Yankees, he played for the Detroit Tigers in 11 of his 12 seasons.  He recorded double-digit wins in seven consecutive seasons, including a career-high 23 in 1961.  Overall, his win-loss record was 128-116.

Frank’s brother, Al, pitched in the Chicago Cubs organization from 1951 to 1964, playing parts of two major-league seasons in 1954 and 1962.

For more information about Frank Lary, follow the link below from tuscaloosanews.com:

http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/news/20171214/major-league-standout-frank-lary-of-northport-dies-at-age-87

David Bell Continues Family Tradition in Baseball

David Bell is part of a rare three-generation family that has played major-league baseball.  There are only four instances of this occurring in the history of the game.  He recently landed a front-office job with the San Francisco Giants.

David played in the majors from 1995 to 2006.  He is the son of Buddy Bell, a third baseman who played in the majors from 1972 to 1989.  David’s grandfather, outfielder Gus Bell, played from 1950 to 1964.  David’s brother, Mike, played in one major-league season in 2002.  Except for Gus, the family members continued their baseball careers after their playing days.

David was recently named the Vice President of Player Development for the Giants, after serving as a minor-league manager and big-league coach.

Mike currently holds the same job as David with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Buddy has previously been the manager of the Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies, and Kansas City Royals.

For more information about David Bell’s career, follow the link below from sfgate:

http://www.sfgate.com/giants/article/Changes-begin-Giants-hire-David-Bell-as-VP-of-12294439.php