John and Jim Harbaugh’s upcoming face-off as opposing head coaches in Super Bowl XLVII will be a first for professional football . John, the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, and Jim, the second-year coach of the San Francisco 49ers, fell short of reaching the NFL Championship game against each other last year, as each of their teams lost in conference title games. However, this unique aspect is sure to add yet another level of interest in the title game this year. In their only prior meeting as coaches, John beat Jim in a regular-season NFL game on Thanksgiving night in 2011.
Professional baseball is chock full of family relationships among its players, coaches, managers, owners and executives. This past baseball season’s playoff teams featured no less than forty players, coaches, and managers who had relatives in baseball, indicative of the prevalence of family ties in the sport. However, none of them rivaled what the Harbaughs are about to accomplish. In fact, throughout all of post-1900 major league baseball history, there have never been brothers as opposing managers, in either regular-season or post-season games. The only major league siblings to both manage big league clubs, Rene and Marcel Lachemann, never opposed each other as managers.
My research reveals that the closest baseball situations to the Harbaughs’ were several occasions when major league brothers opposed each other in World Series games. In 1920, brothers Doc and Jimmy Johnston faced each other in the World Series for the Cleveland Indians and Brooklyn Robins, respectively. For three consecutive years (1921-1923), Bob Meusel of the New York Yankees played against his brother, Emil , of the New York Giants in the Fall Classic. Clete and Ken Boyer were opponents in the 1964 World Series–Clete with the New York Yankees , and Ken with the St. Louis Cardinals. Each of the Boyers homered in Game 7 of that World Series.
Even though baseball has more family relationships than any other professional sport, pro football’s John and Jim Harbaugh will soon achieve a rare accomplishment! However, when considering baseball brothers as players, who do you think were the most famous or the most prolific set—e. g., the DiMaggios (Joe, Dom, and Vince), Niekros (Phil and Joe), Deans (Dizzy and Paul), Aarons (Hank and Tommie)?
Contributing Writer: Richard Cuicchi