On May 27, the Rasmus brothers did something they had never done before. Cory, a pitcher who had just been called up to the Atlanta Braves, faced his brother, Colby, who plays outfield for the Toronto Blue Jays, in a Major League Baseball game. It was the first time they had played each other in anything other than a high-school scrimmage. Colby hit a double off of Cory, as the Blue Jays defeated the Braves, 9-3. In what was his Major League debut, Cory yielded three earned runs in two innings pitched. The last time two brothers were matched up in a pitcher-batter confrontation in a Major League game was in 2010, when Jared and Jeff Weaver faced each other.
Colby and Cory are only part of an active baseball family. Their brother Casey is playing Single-A baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, while a fourth brother, Cyle, played college baseball at Columbus State University in Georgia. Their father, Anthony, was a 10th round draft pick of the California Angels in the 1986 Major League draft, and he went on to play three seasons of minor league ball.
Colby was the first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005. Prior to the 2009 season, he was the No. 3 ranked prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America. At age 22, he wound up as the regular centerfielder with the big league club that season and finished 8th in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. However, in July 2011, he was part of an eight-player deal that sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays. His best offensive power season was in 2012 with the Blue Jays, when he homered 25 times and knocked in 75 runs.
Cory, almost 18 months younger than Colby, was the first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2006. The right-handed pitcher switched to a reliever role in 2012, and had only pitched in 20 games at the Triple-A level when he was brought up by the Braves in late May. There have only been six previous sets of Major League brothers selected as first-round picks in the major league amateur draft.
Coming out of Liberty University, Casey was the 36th round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2011. The catcher is currently playing at the Single-A level in the Braves organization.
The Rasmus brothers’ recent opposition evokes some historic matchups of Major League brothers from the past:
• Alex Gaston of the Boston Red Sox broke up brother Milt’s (St. Louis Browns) no-hitter in 1926, hitting the first pitch for a single with one out in the ninth inning.
• On July 19, 1933, pitcher Wes Ferrell (Cleveland Indians) yielded a home run to his brother Rick (Boston Red Sox). Wes also hit a home run in the same inning, the first time brothers on opposite teams homered in the same game.
• Joe Niekro (Houston Astros) hit only one home run in his twenty-two year major league career—and that was off his brother Phil (Atlanta Braves) on May 29, 1976.
• Greg (Chicago Cubs) and Mike Maddux (Philadelphia Phillies) were the first rookie brothers to pitch against each other in the same game, on September 29, 1986.
If Casey were to also reach the big leagues, the Rasmus brothers would become only the 21st family of three or more brothers to play in the Major Leagues. The DiMaggios (Joe, Dominic, and Vince) are the most noteworthy brothers with this distinction. The most recent set of three siblings playing in the Majors were the Molina brothers (Yadier, Bengie, and Jose) during 1998-2012. Yadier and Jose are still active today. There were four O’Neill brothers playing in the Major Leagues during 1901-1928, and five Delahanty brothers during 1888-1915. You can bet the Rasmus family is pulling hard for Casey!
In Chapter 13 of my book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives, there are many fascinating facts about baseball relatives who were opponents or teammates. Family Ties is an extensive reference for the many family relationships in baseball, containing information on over 3,500 players, managers, coaches, scouts, umpires, broadcasters, executives, and owners who had relatives in professional baseball.
You can find out more information about Family Ties at http://thetenthinning.com
Contributing writer: Richard Cuicchi