Hank Steinbrenner dies at age 63

Hank Steinbrenner, son of George Steinbrenner, died on April 14 at age 63. He and his brother Hal followed in their father’s footsteps as partnership owners of the the New York Yankees, along with other family members.

Hank shared in the responsibility of overseeing and directing the team’s on- and off-field strategies, while Hal was the managing general partner.

George was the owner of the Yankees from 1973 to 2010.

Click here for Hank’s obituary in the New York Times.

Terry Kennedy outperformed his father Bob as major league player

Former major league catcher Terry Kennedy was a four-time all-star and had two World Series appearances (1984 Padres and 1989 Giants), although both were in losing situations. He finished with a career slash line of .261/.314/.386, 113 home runs and 638 RBIs.

Terry’s father, Bob, played in the majors from 1939 to 1957. Bob was never an all-star but did play for 1948 World Series winner Cleveland Indians. He went on to manage briefly for the Cubs and A’s and served in the front offices of the Cubs, Cardinals, Mariners, Astros, and Giants organizations.

Terry was a minor-league manager for 12 seasons, most recently in the Padres organization in 2012.

Click here for an article in Sports Illustrated about the Kennedys.

Henry Aaron carried the weight on list of brothers with most all-time home runs.

If you’ve followed baseball during the past 50 years, you know Henry Aaron was the all-time home run king until Barry Bonds broke his record in 2007. For many fans, Aaron is still considered the career leader, because of the suspicion that Bonds’s numbers were influenced by the use of PEDs.

Aaron’s brother, Tommie, played in the majors from 1962 to 1971 as Henry’s teammate with the Braves. However, he manged to hit only 13 career home runs in 437 games, while Henry hammered out 755. Together they hold the record for brother combos.

The next closest set of brothers was Eddie and Rich Murray, who combined for 508.

Father-son combo Barry and Bobby Bonds amassed 1,094 home runs between them, with Bobby accumulating 332.

Ken Griffey Jr. and his father, Ken Griffey Sr. combined for 782, of course with Junior carrying the load with 630.

For more information about the Aaron brothers, click here for an article from Sportscasting.com.

Jack Leiter chooses collegiate path to the big leagues

Jack Leiter was drafted out of high school in the 20th round by the New York Yankees in the 2019 MLB Draft. However, he bypassed signing a contract and chose to attend Vanderbilt University to play baseball.

Jack’s father, Al Leiter, was similarly drafted out of high school by the Yankees in 1984, except he was a second-round selection that inked a contract as an 18-year-old. The elder Leiter went on to log 19 major-league seasons with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Mets, and Marlins. He finished with a 162-132 record and 3.80 ERA, winning World Series title with the Blue Jays and Marlins.

Jack’s collegiate debut with Vandy this season included five no-hit innings with a dozen strikeouts. Not a bad start!

Jack’s uncle Mark Leiter and cousin Mark Leiter Jr. have both appeared in the majors.

To read more about Jack and Al Leiter clicks on these links: Vandy debut and Like Father, Like Son

Dusty Baker’s new job interrupts watching son Darren play collegiately

Before Dusty Baker got his new job as manager of the Houston Astros, he was spending time watching his son Darren play for the University of California. Daren is currently a junior and has thoughts of following his dad into the professional ranks. Dusty will now have to get reports of his son’s games via the press or video replay.

Darren first gained notoriety as the batboy for his father’s team, San Francisco Giants, in the 2002 World Series. Little Darren was swept up by J. T. Snow, who was the on-deck batter, as a Giants runner was headed for home, destined for a collision with the youngster who was picking up the bat at home plate. Fortunately, Darren escaped injury due to Snow’s quick thinking.

For more information about Darren and Dusty Baker, click here.

Luis Rojas adds to family’s baseball heritage

Luis Rojas was recently named the manager of the New York Mets, filling the vacancy created when Carlos Beltran stepped down as manager for his involvement in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Rojas is the son of Felipe Alou, a long-time major-league player and manager. They become only the sixth set of father-son combos to manage at the major-league level. The others include Buddy and David Bell, Bob and Aaron Boone, Bob and Joel Skinner, George and Dick Sisler, and Connie and Earle Mack.

Rojas is also the brother of Moises Alou, who was a major-leaguer from 1990-2008.

Rojas’s uncles include Matty Alou and Jesus Alou, who also played during the same timeframe as brother Felipe.

Read more about Rojas’s new managerial job and family background at the below links:

https://nypost.com/2020/01/25/mets-luis-rojas-earning-place-in-family-dynasty-had-to-be-a-manager/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2020/01/24/new-mets-manager-luis-rojas-thanks-famous-father-brother/41060079/

https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/who-is-luis-rojas-new-mets-manager-is-rising-star-with-baseball-in-his-blood/

https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/felipe-alou-my-son-luis-rojas-is-ready-and-wont-cheat-the-game/

https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/mets-hiring-luis-rojas-gets-seal-of-approval-from-bruce-bochy/

Family Ties Flourishing in Baseball: New York Yankees

Baseball has more family relationships than any other professional sport.  They existed in the earliest days of the sport in the 1870s, and they are abundant in today’s game, perhaps more so than ever before.  Baseball has been called a “generational” sport for several reasons.  One is that multiple generations of families have been active in the game–grandfathers, fathers, sons, and brothers.  And now even some great-grandsons are starting to show up on rosters.  Uncles, nephews, cousins and in-laws are part of the extended family of baseball relatives, too.

Baseball bloodlines aren’t limited to just the players.  Family trees with a baseball background have commonly included managers, coaches, scouts, owners, executives, front office personnel, umpires, and broadcasters.

Indeed, families with a heritage of baseball are like those with military, medical, jurisprudence, and agricultural backgrounds.  Their professions are often passed down from one generation to the next.  Likewise, professional baseball fathers generally want their sons to follow in their footsteps.  Brothers grow up pushing each other to excel on the diamond.  Once one brother gets drafted by a major league team, then it’s often the case his brother will try to follow.

A look back in history shows many fascinating stories about baseball families.  For example:

  • the Hairston family, which included a major league father (Sam), three sons (two in the majors—John and Jerry Sr.), and five grandsons (two in the majors—Jerry Jr. and Scott), collectively had professional careers that spanned from 1945 to 2014.
  • three Alou brothers (Felipe, Matty, and Jesus) played for the San Francisco Giants in the same game in 1963.  The trio had two cousins who followed them in the big leagues, and one of the trio, Felipe, also had four sons to play professionally.
  • the Boyer brood included seven brothers that played professionally, including three major leaguers (Cloyd, Ken, and Clete).  They then produced three sons who played in the minors.

Numerous players of the 1960s New York Yankees teams had offspring who wound up playing professional baseball.  Follow the link below to an article entitled “Sons of the 1960s Bronx Bombers Had Big Shoes to Fill.”

https://baseballrelatives.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/sons-of-the-1960s-bronx-bombers-had-big-shoes-to-fill/

Fast-forwarding to more recent times, here are some highlights of baseball relatives in the New York Yankees organization during 2019.

Gary Sanchez was an all-star selection in 2019.  He had the most home runs in his career (34) despite spending several stints on the injured list.  He had been the runner-up for the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2016 when he hit 20 home runs in only 53 games.  Gary’s brother Miguel had played in the Seattle Mariners organization for six seasons (2009-2014) as a catcher and pitcher.

Austin Romine had one of his best years with the Yankees with a slash line of .281/.310/.439, with 8 home runs and 35 RBIs.  He filled in very capably when regular catcher Gary Sanchez was on the injured list.  Romine is in one of those rare families that had a father and a brother in major-league baseball.  His father Kevin was a major-league outfielder in the Red Sox organization from 1985 to 1991, when he was also a backup player to regulars like Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, and Mike Greenwell.  His brother Andrew is a nine-year major-league veteran who played at the Triple-A level with the Philadelphia Phillies last season.

Aaron Hicks was in his fourth season with the Yankees but was one of several regulars who spent most of the season on the injured list.  In 59 games he hit 12 home runs and 36 RBIs.  He had signed a seven-year contract extension worth $70 million before the season began.  Hicks is the son of Joseph Hicks, who reached the Double-A level with the San Diego Padres and Kansas City Royals organizations before retiring in 1981.

Luis Severino missed all the 2019 season except one game in September due to a rotator cuff injury.  His disappointing season came after he led the Yankees in wins (19) in 2018.  His younger brother Rafael is also a pitcher, signed as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic and assigned to the Yankees’ academy there.

Zach Britton was one of the stalwarts in the Yankees’ bullpen in his first full season with them last season. In 66 appearances, he posted a 1.91 ERA.  He didn’t yield any runs in five relief appearances against Houston in the ALCS.  He is the brother of Buck Britton who played nine seasons in the minors before becoming a manager in the Baltimore Orioles farm system.

The Yankees’ pipeline of baseball relatives includes several prospects whose relatives were former major-league all-stars:  Jose Mesa Jr. (son of Jose Mesa Sr.), and Michael O’Neill (nephew of Paul O’Neill), Ryan Lidge (brother of Brad Lidge), LJ Mazzilli (son of Lee Mazzilli),and Isiah Gilliam, (grandson of Jim Gilliam).

The Yankees had numerous personnel filling non-playing roles in the organization during 2019.  Some of them include:

Hal Steinbrenner is the managing general partner of the Yankees, having taken over for their legendary father, George Steinbrenner, following his death in 2010.  His siblings, Hank, Jennifer, and Jessica are general partners.

Aaron Boone was in his second year as manager of the Yankees.  His teams have won a hundred or more games in each season.  He played 12 seasons in the majors, including a stint with the Yankees.  Boone is part of a three-generation major-league family (one of only four in MLB history), including his grandfather Ray, father, Bob, and brother Bret.

Phil Nevin is in his second season as the Yankees’ third base coach.  He was the first overall pick of the 1992 MLB draft by the Houston Astros.  Nevin played 12 seasons in the majors, including an all-star season in 2001 with San Diego.  Nevin’s son Tyler was a first-round selection of the Colorado Rockies in 2015 and played at the Double-A level in 2019.

Brothers Lou and Rob Cucuzza have been long-time clubhouse and equipment managers at Yankee Stadium.  They previously served with their father, Lou Sr., who also had an extensive career in similar capacities with the Yankees.

Mark Littlefield is a medical coordinator in the Yankees organization.  He is the brother of David Littlefield, currently an executive in the Detroit Tigers organization, and Scott Littlefield, currently a scout in the Texas Rangers organization.

Ken Singleton is currently a broadcaster for the Yankees.  He previously had a 15-year major-league playing career with the Montreal Expos and Baltimore Orioles.  His son, Justin, played for six seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, reaching the Triple-A level.

Donny Rowland, Yankees’ Director of International Scouting, is the father of Shane Rowland, who played two seasons in the Cleveland Indians organization.  The following Yankees scouts have relatives in baseball: Troy Afenir (father of Audie Afenir, 2019 independent league), Jeff Patterson (brother of Jim Patterson, former Yankees scout), Cory Melvin (son of Doug Melvin, former front office executive with several teams).