These Dads Were Ballplayers, Too

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

It’s one thing for a dad to have his son make it to the major-leagues, but it’s even more special when the dad was also a former major-leaguer. The number of big-league father-son combinations is pretty rare.  Less than 500, out of almost 19,000 major leaguers to have played since 1876, are a father or son.

When former major-leaguer Pete Rose was shopping around for a new team in the free agent marketplace, one of his considerations was that the team would allow his son to practically have everyday access to the team’s clubhouse. Many major-league sons like Pete Jr. have their interests in baseball as youngsters fueled by hanging out with their dads in the clubhouse or shagging fly balls during batting practice before their dads’ games.  Consequently, the sons have a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with big-league players and to begin learning the ropes of what it takes to be a successful professional ballplayer.

Ironically, the fathers probably didn’t get too many chances to see their sons develop their own skills while growing up on the playgrounds, since the dads were off playing in big-league cities across the country. For example, Pete Rose said he attended fewer than ten of his son’s games during his childhood.  When Ken Griffey Jr. was playing in his first pro season in an instructional league, it was the first time in five years his major-league father had seen him play.

In honor of Father’s Day, below is a group of major league dads from the past, whose sons are currently playing in the big-leagues. The dads are organized into a Fathers Fantasy Team.

1B — Andy Van Slyke, father of Scott Van Slyke (Los Angeles Dodgers).  Andy was a three-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner during 1983 to 1995.  Most of his career was spent with the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates as an outfielder, but he occasionally played first base as well.

2B – Delino DeShields, father of Delino DeShields Jr. (Texas Rangers).  The elder DeShields was the first-round draft selection of the Montreal Expos in 1987.  Three years later he was runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year honors.  He then went on to 13-year career in which he batted .268.

SS – Ivan de Jesus, father of Ivan de Jesus Jr. (Milwaukee Brewers).  Ivan Sr. was a slick-fielding shortstop for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.  He was the shortstop on the 1983 Phillies World Series team whose infield included Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt.

3B – Clay Bellinger, father of Cody Bellinger (Los Angeles Dodgers).  Clay appeared in the World Series in 2001 and 2002 with the New York Yankees, earning a championship ring in 2001.  Primarily a utility player, he played every position with the Yankees except pitcher and catcher in 2000.

OF — Kevin Romine, father of Andrew Romine (Detroit Tigers) and Austin Romine (New York Yankees).  Kevin was a 2nd-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1982 and played with them during 1985 to 1991.  He had one post-season appearance with the Red Sox in 1988.

OF – Eric Young, father of Eric Young Jr. (Los Angeles Angels).  Eric Sr. played fifteen seasons in the big-leagues with seven different teams as a second baseman and outfielder.  During his career he compiled a .283 batting average and 465 stolen bases, currently 48th on the all-time stolen base list.  He was an All-Star in 1996 with Colorado as a second baseman.

OF – Raul R. Mondesi, father of Raul A. Mondesi (Kansas City Royals).  The elder Mondesi was National League Rookie of the Year in 1994 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and wound up playing seven seasons with them, including two post-seasons appearances.  He played a total of 13 seasons in the majors, compiling 271 home runs.

C – Sal Butera, father of Drew Butera (Kansas City Royals).  Sal was a backup catcher for five different major-league clubs during 1980 to 1988.  He was a member of the 1987 World Series champion Minnesota Twins.

SP – Tom Gordon, father of Dee Gordon (Miami Marlins).  Nicknamed “Flash,” Tom first started his pro career as a starting pitcher, but later switched to the bullpen.  He was runner-up in the voting for the American League Rookie of the Year in 1989 while with the Kansas City Royals.  He won 97 games as a starter during his first 10 seasons.  He led the led the American League in saves in 1998 with the Boston Red Sox.  Altogether he recorded 158 career saves.  He was a three-time All-Star selection.

RP – Steve Bedrosian, father of Cam Bedrosian (Los Angeles Angels).  Steve compiled a 76-79 record and 184 saves over 14 seasons during 1981 to 1985.  He was the National League’s Cy Young Award winner in 1987 with the Philadelphia Phillies, a relatively uncommon feat for a relief pitcher.  He was a member of the 1991 World Series champion Minnesota Twins.

A few other current major-leaguers with fathers who also played at the major-league level include Steve Lombardozzi (Marlins), Lance McCullers Jr. (Astros), Jason Grilli (Blue Jays), and Travis Shaw (Brewers).

Jake and Luke Matheny Form Rare Brother Battery

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has raised a family of ballplayers, including sons Tate, Jake and Luke.  Tate has already progressed to professional baseball and is currently an outfielder in the Boston Red Sox organization, while Jake and Luke are making their way through college baseball.

Jake and Luke are playing on the same Madison Mallards team in the collegiate Northwoods League this summer.  Luke, a pitcher at Oklahoma State, and Luke, a catcher at Indiana,  form the battery for the Mallards and are believed to be the first brother pitcher-catcher combination in the league’s history.

The situation is not unusual for the brothers though, as  they played together growing up.

There have only been a handful of brother battery mates to play together in the major-leagues during the modern day, including Elmer and Johnny Riddle (1949), Bobby and Wilmer Shantz (1955 and 1960), and Ed and Jim Bailey (1959).

To read more about the Matheny brothers, follow the link below from wiscnews.com:

http://www.wiscnews.com/sports/baseball/article_cbcd7079-2534-5b72-b90d-78620e186a7f.html

 

Bo Weiss Follows in his Father’s Footsteps at UNC

Bo Weiss had a choice to attend Stanford or University of North Carolina to play college baseball, and he wound up at UNC largely because his father also played there in the 1980s.

His dad is Walt Weiss, former major-league shortstop for 14 years during 1987 and 2000.  Walt was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1988 for the Oakland A’s.  He later managed the Colorado Rockies from 2013 to 2016.

Bo passed up a chance last year to sign professionally out of high school with the New York Yankees after being drafted in the 29th round.  Of course, Tar Heel fans recall his father’s time at UNC and are hoping for similar results.

Bo’s brother, Brody, was also a Major League Baseball draft selection, being taken by the Colorado Rockies in the 22nd round of the 2013 Draft, but he did not sign.

Read more about Bo Weiss at the link below from North State Journal:

http://www.nsjonline.com/article/2017/05/major-league-sons-thriving-at-state-schools

 

Flemming Brothers Share Baseball Passion by Calling Games

Brothers Dave and Will Flemming didn’t plan on having the same profession, but now both share their love of  baseball as broadcasters in professional baseball.

Dave has been the play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco Giants since 2004, where he is currently paired with legendary announcer Jon Miller.

Will has a similar job, but with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox.  He had originally sought a job in Silicon Valley after graduation from Stanford University, but he changed his career to sports broadcasting careers several year ago.

Read more about the Flemming brothers by following the link below from Alexandria Times:

http://alextimes.com/2017/05/how-these-alexandria-brothers-landed-jobs-in-sports-broadcasting/

Chris Owings One of Three Baseball Brothers

Shortstop Chris Owings of the Arizona Diamondbacks is currently in his fifth major-league season and is off to the best start of his career, as the D’backs are currently in third place in the National League West Division.

Chris’s brother, Connor, is in his second pro season in the D’backs organization after having been drafted in the 34th round of the 2016 MLB Draft.  Their brother, Kyle, also played in the Arizona system in 2012 before playing one season in an independent league.

To read more about the Owings family, including their mother who was a two-sport athlete in college, follow the link below from GoEerie.com:

http://www.goerie.com/sports/20170514/albion-native-sherri-owings-part-of-true-baseball-family

Shelley Duncan Benefits From His Father’s Coaching Experience

Shelley Duncan is the new manager of the Visalia Rawhides, the Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, for the 2017 season.  He previously played during seven major-league seasons with the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays from 2007 to 2013. He had been the second-round draft pick of the Yankees in the 2001 MLB Draft.

Shelley is the son of Dave Duncan, the long-time major-league player and coach.  Dave’s pro coaching career lasted over 30 years, and when he was with the Oakland A’s,  Shelley spent a lot of time with his father learning the game.

Shelley’s brother, Chris, played five major-league seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals.

For more information about Shelley Duncan’s career, follow the link below from Visalia Times-Democrat:

http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/sports/2017/04/21/milb-duncan-brings-playing-experience-knowledge-new-rawhide-manager/100764594/

Tyler Mahle Hurls Perfect Game

Tyler Mahle pitched a perfect game for Pensacola of the Southern League on April 22, only the second in league history.  He defeated the Mobile Bears, 1-0, throwing only 88 pitches in the contest.  He was the 7th-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in the 2013 MLB Draft.

He is the brother of Greg Mahle, who made his major league debut in 2016 with the Los Angeles Angels.

For more information about Tyler Mahle’s perfect game, follow the link below from milb.com:

https://www.milb.com/milb/news/tyler-mahle-twirls-perfect-game-for-pensacola-blue-wahoos/c-225969108/t-185364810