MLB Post-Season Teams Have A Family Flair

The occurrences of family relationships in the game of baseball continue at a high rate. When scanning the rosters of this year’s Major League playoff teams, it provides evidence that there remains a prevalence of family connections among players and coaches.

A June 4th online article of Baseball America reported a talent pool for the 2013 Major League draft that included over 160 amateur players who had some type of family tie – a brother, father, grandfather, cousin, or uncle who was also involved in baseball at a professional or collegiate level. So, the pipeline is still being filled with new players with family ties in the game, whether past or present.

I counted 78 players and coaches on the rosters of this year’s ten playoff teams who had a relative. Below are some examples of baseball family trees from this year’s MLB playoff contenders.

Atlanta Braves
It was well-publicized at the beginning of this season that brothers B. J. and Justin Upton were expected to lead the Braves into the playoffs. Second baseman Elliot Johnson had three brothers, Leon, Cedric, and Isaac, who were drafted by major league teams, although only Leon played professionally. Third baseman Chris Johnson’s father, Ron, was a former major leaguer and a coach for the Boston Red Sox. The Braves’ assistant hitting coach, Scott Fletcher, was part of a three-generation baseball family. Scott’s father and son, Richard and Brian respectively, both played in the minors. Backup catcher Gerald Laird’s brother, Brandon, also has major league experience.

Cincinnati Reds
Pitcher Sean Marshall’s twin brother, Brian, was a pitcher in the Red Sox organization who did not reach the majors. There have been only eight sets of twins who both played in the big leagues. Infielder Todd Frazier has two brothers in professional baseball—Jeff, who played in the majors with the Tigers, and Charlie, who played in the Marlins minor league organization. Cesar Izturis’ major league brother, Macier, played with the Blue Jays in 2013, while Ryan Ludwick’s brother, Eric, played for four major league teams during 1996-1999. Reds’ batting coach Brook Jacoby was also a member of a three-generation baseball family. His father, Brook Sr., played minor league ball, while his son, Torrey, was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2007.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Second baseman Neil Walker has three family ties in professional baseball: his father, Tom, was a pitcher for four major league teams during 1972-1977, his brother-in-law is Don Kelly, currently playing for the Detroit Tigers; and his older brother, Matt, played in the Tigers and Orioles minor league organizations. Pirate infielder Josh Harrison is the brother of Vince Harrison Jr., who was an infielder for the Rays, Mets and Marlins organizations, and is also the cousin of former major leaguer John Shelby. All-Star reliever Jason Grilli is the son of Steve Grilli, a major league pitcher during 1975-1979.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Infielder Dee Gordon and outfielder Scott Van Slyke both have major league fathers. Adrian Gonzalez’ brother, Edgar, played two seasons with the Padres in 2008-2009. Zack Greinke and Andre Ethier have brothers who briefly played at the minor league level. Dodger manager Don Mattingly’s son, Preston, was a first round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2006, but never played above the Single-A level in the minors. Third base coach Tim Wallach has three sons, Brett, Matt, and Chad, who have played professionally, with Matt currently being a top prospect in the Dodgers organization. In 2011, the Wallach family received the Ray Boone Family Award by the Baseball Professional Scouts Foundation.

St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals coaching staff has some strong family ties. Manager Mike Matheny and third base coach Jose Oquendo have sons who are currently playing at the college level. Bench coach Mike Aldrete’s brother, Rich, was also a former major leaguer. Assistant hitting coach Bengie Molina’s brother, Yadier, is an All-Star catcher for the Cardinals. Their other brother, Jose, played for the Tampa Bay Rays this season. All three Molina brothers are catchers, and each has won a World Series title. Matt Holiday’s brother, Josh, is currently the head coach for Oklahoma State University, a position previously held by their father, Tom. Both Tom and Josh also had brief minor league careers.

Cleveland Indians
The Indians’ coaching staff also has a history of family relationships in baseball. Former major leaguer Tito Francona is the father of Indians manager Terry Francona. Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. is the brother of Hall of Famer Robby, and their father, Sandy Sr., was a long-time major league player and coach. Third base coach Brad Mills has a son, Beau, who was a first-round pick of the Indians in 2007. Hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo is the son of Dutch, who played in the minors from 1952-1959. Nick Swisher and Michael Brantley’s fathers played in the majors. Jason Giambi’s brother, Jeremy, is a former major league teammate with the Oakland A’s. The Giambis hold the record for the most home runs in a season by a major league brother combination in 2000. Indians pitcher Zach McAllister’s father, Steve, is a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Tampa Bay Rays
As mentioned above, catcher Jose Molina has two brothers on the St. Louis Cardinals club. Their father, Benjamin Sr., is an inductee of the Puerto Rican Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. Delmon Young’s brother, Dmitri, was a major leaguer from 1996-2008. They were both first round picks in the Major League draft. Sean Rodriguez’ father, Johnny, has been a scout for several major league organizations. Sean’s brother, Robert, was a former catcher in the Nationals organization. Jose Lobaton’s brother, Jose Tomas, was a minor leaguer from 1993-1999. Third base coach Tom Foley is the father of Brett, who is an area supervisor scout for the Rays.

Oakland A’s
Jemile Weeks’ brother, Rickie, plays for the Milwaukee Brewers. Veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon has a brother, Jose, who was a pitcher in the Indians organization. Pitcher Brett Anderson’s father, Frank, was a college baseball coach. First base coach Ty Waller has two brothers, Reggie and Kevin, who played in the minor leagues. Third base coach Mike Gallego has a son, Nick, who is a minor leaguer in the Rockies organization.

Detroit Tigers
Pitcher Justin Verlander’s brother, Ben, is an outfielder in the Tigers organization. Catcher Alex Avila’s father, Al, is currently the assistant general manager for the Tigers, while his cousin, Nick, is a pitcher in the Tigers organization. Alex’s grandfather, Rafael, is a former Latin American scout for the Dodgers. First baseman Prince Fielder is the son of Cecil Fielder, a major leaguer from 1985 to 1998. Their combined career numbers for home runs and RBI put them near the top of the all-time lists for fathers and sons. Omar Infante’s brother, Asdrubal, was a pitcher for one season in the Tigers minor leagues. As mentioned previously, Don Kelly is the son-in-law of former major leaguer Tom Walker and the brother-in-law of current Pirates infielder Neil Walker.

Practically all of the Tigers’ coaching staff has family ties in baseball. Manager Jim Leyland’s son, Patrick, is a catcher/first baseman in the Tigers organization. Batting coach Lloyd McClendon’s son, Bo, played briefly on a Tigers’ minor league club. First base coach Ron Belliard has a cousin, Rafael, who played 17 seasons in the big leagues. Third base coach Tom Brookens’ twin brother, Tim, was a minor league infielder, and his cousin, Ike, pitched part of one major league season with the Tigers in 1975. Bench coach Gene Lamont’s son, Wade, played in the Tigers farm system. Bullpen catcher Jeff Kunkel is part of a three-general baseball family. His father, Bill, was a major league pitcher for three seasons, while his son, Jeff, played in six seasons in the Tigers’ minor leagues.

Boston Red Sox
Manager John Farrell has three sons involved in baseball. Jeremy is an infielder in the Pirates organization. Shane is an amateur scouting assistant with the Cubs after having been drafted by the Blue Jays in 2011, but Pioneer League. Assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez’s son, Victor Jr. is an international scout for the Red Sox organization, while son Miguel is a catcher in the Red Sox minor leagues. Third base coach Brian Butterfield is the son of Jack Butterfield, who was vice president of player personnel and scouting for the Yankees organization. Bench coach Torey Lovullo has a son, Nick, who was a draft choice of the Blue Jays in 2012.

On the playing field, several Red Sox players have a legacy of family relationships in baseball. Shortstop Stephen Drew has two brothers who were former major leaguers. J.D and Tim Drew were selected as Major League Baseball first-round draft picks, as was Stephen. Jarrod Saltamacchia’s brother, Justin, played one season in the Braves minor league system. Jonny Gomes’ brother, Joey, played ten seasons in the Rays and Padres organizations and the Independent Leagues. Rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts has a twin brother, Jair, who played for the Red Sox organization in the Dominican Summer League.

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