Baseball has more family relationships than any other professional sport. This site is specifically devoted to emerging stories, new information, and expert commentary about the many family ties in baseball. The site is sponsored by www.TheTenthInning.com.
Cavan Biggio, Vladimdir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette are the sons of former major-league all-stars. Their fathers never played on the same team during their careers, but these sons are currently playing together for Dunedin, the minor league affiliate of Toronto Blue Jays.
All three of the sons are top prospects within the Blue Jays organization and have their sights set on following in their father’s footsteps in the big leagues one day.
Cavan is the son of Craig Biggio, who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015. Vladimir Guerrero is the son of Valdimir Guerrero Sr., who has a good chance to be elected to the hallowed Hall within the next few years. Bo is the son of Dante Bichette, who was a four-time all-star.
For more information about this trio of future stars, follow the link below from wtsp.com:
Amanda Hopkins is the first full-time female major-league scout in over 50 years. She is completing her second season working in the Seattle Mariners organization.
Her father, Ron, has been a scout for several major-league teams and is currently a special assistant in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Amanda learned the game as a youngster by going out with her dad on scouting trips and later served as an intern in the Mariners baseball operations department.
The Hopkins father-daughter scouting combo is not the first family-ties scouting relationship. Roy and Bessie Largent were a husband-wife tandem who were paid as full-time pro scouts by the Chicago White Sox between 1925 and 1943 and reportedly signed over 150 player for the organization.
For more information about Amanda Hopkins, follow the link below from The Washington Post:
Baseball players with relatives in the game have been around since the beginning of the professional sport. If you count the National Association as the first major-league, brothers Doug and Art Allison and George and Harry Wright played in the inaugural season in 1871. The first son of a major-leaguer to also play in the majors was Jack Doscher in 1903. His father, Herm, had been a big-leaguer from 1872 to 1882.
Fast-forwarding to the beginning of the 2017 season, there had been almost 500 brother combinations and nearly 250 father-son combinations to have appeared in the majors. The number of players who are uncles, nephews, cousins, and in-laws of other major-leaguers is prevalent as well.
Throughout the years, baseball cards have contributed to the recording of baseball history, which includes many of the occurrences of family ties in the sport.
However, early baseball cards didn’t typically feature more than one player per card. So while there were numerous instances of family ties in the early days of the sport, they weren’t depicted together on a single card. Furthermore, the individual player cards in those early years didn’t contain textual biographical information (like today) that might identify players as having a brother in baseball.
The 1872 Warren Studio Boston Red Stocking Cabinets set included individual cards of George and Harry Wright of the champions of the premier season. The Old Judge (N172) set issued by Goodwin & Co. during 1887-1890 was the largest among the early sets, with over 500 different players. It included individual player cards of several of the early major-league brothers, including Ed and Con Daley, Pat (Tom) and John Deasley, Buck and John Ewing, Art and John Irwin, Dave and Jack Rowe, Orator and Taylor Shafer, Bill and John Sowders, and Gus and John Weyhing.
Jack and Mike O’Neill cards are included in the extremely rare 1904 Allegheny Card Co. set, which is believed to have only been produced as a prototype and never distributed. The 1922 American Caramel (E120) series contains cards of brothers Jimmy and Doc Johnston and Bob and Emil (Irish) Meusel.
The 1935 Goudey 4-in-1 (R321) set contained colored portraits of four players, usually on the same team, on a single 2-3/8” x 2-7/8” card. The set was unique in that card backs form nine different puzzles. Wes and Rick Ferrell (appearing with Fritz Ostermueller and Bill Werber), Paul and Lloyd Waner (appearing with Guy Bush and Waite Hoyt) exist in this 36-card, unnumbered set.
Among the first sets to produce cards with brothers appearing on the same card in a single photo include the 1936 National Chicle Co. Pen Premiums (R313), a 3-¼” x 5-3/8” blank-backed, unnumbered set that illustrated facsimile autographs. It’s not purely coincidental that this set pictured Wes and Rick Ferrell and Paul and Lloyd Waner, since they were among the first sets of major-league brothers to both be star-quality players. The Ferrells formed a brother battery for the Boston Red Sox, while the Waners roamed the outfield as teammates for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The smallish Waners are posed in a comical shot on the shoulders of 6-foot-6 teammate Jim Weaver.
The 1941 Double Play (R330) set would have been the perfect set to show Joe and Dom DiMaggio on the same card, since the set was designed to feature two players on a single card with consecutive card numbers on each card. But that didn’t happen. Instead the DiMaggios were pictured separately on two cards, Joe with Yankee teammate Charley Keller and Dom with Red Sox teammate Frank Pytlak.
One of the most recognized cards with brothers appearing on the same card is in the popular 1954 Topps set. A card with twin brothers Ed and John O’Brien of the Pittsburgh Pirates is included in the set, which was the first to feature two player photos (a portrait and an action photo) on a card. The O’Briens, who formed the middle infield combo for the Pirates, are one of only eight sets of twins to ever play in the major-leagues. They are shown together on the card in a kneeling pose with a bat on their shoulder, minus the action photo.
Bowman came up with a neat concept for its 1955 card design, its last as an independent card producer. Players were portrayed in color photos arranged inside a television set. Brothers Bobby and Billy Shantz, then playing for the Kansas City A’s, were included on a single card. An interesting circumstance in that card set involved brothers Frank and Milt Bolling, who were included on separate cards, but the backs of their cards incorrectly contained their brother’s biographical information. Their cards were later corrected, creating a variation for collectors.
The 1961 Topps set included a single card of Larry and Norm Sherry, battery-mates for the Los Angeles Dodgers. For the next fifteen or so years, except for a few occasional years when brothers appeared together on Topps league leader cards (for example, Felipe and Matty Alou in the Topps 1966 and 1968 sets) and in reprint sets, cards showing family relationships were absent from sets.
The first major set to duly recognize players with relatives was the 1976 Topps issue. Five consecutively-numbered cards comprised a subset captioned “Father & Son – Big Leaguers.” The father-son combos included Gus and Buddy Bell, Ray and Bob Boone, Joe and Joe Coleman, Jim and Mike Hegan, and Roy Sr. and Roy Jr. Smalley. Each card contained a photo from a previous Topps issue for the father and a photo from the current issue for the son. Interestingly, three of these family combinations (Bells, Boones, and Colemans) would eventually have a third generation play in the major leagues.
Topps followed up in 1977 with another relatives subset titled “Big League Brothers.” It contained four consecutively-numbered cards that included George and Ken Brett, Bob and Ken Forsch, Lee and Carlos May, and Paul and Rick Reuschel.
The baseball card craze kicked into high gear in the mid-to-late 1980s when new card companies like Donruss, Fleer, and Upper Deck came onto the hobby scene. They each contributed a few relatives combo cards involving such families as the Niekros, Ripkens and Alomars. Topps produced its largest family ties subset with thirteen consecutively-numbered cards captioned “Father-Son,” as part of its 1985 base set. The father-son combos appeared on a single card, with the fathers being pictured in one of their former Topps cards as a player. A few of the combos were Yogi and Dale Berra, Tito and Terry Francona, Vern and Vance Law, and Dizzy and Steve Trout.
As part of its 1992 base set, Upper Deck issued a subset captioned “Bloodlines Set.” It had seven consecutively-numbered cards that included major-league cousins (Keith and Kevin Mitchell, Gary Sheffield and Dwight Gooden) in addition to several brothers, fathers and sons. One would expect Ken Griffey Jr. and his father to be in this set, but Upper Deck threw in an extra twist by also including brother/son Craig Griffey, who was in only his second minor-league season.
Bowman followed the next year with a four-card subset called “Father and Son,” in which current players Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Moises Alou, and Brian McRae were depicted with their fathers on the same card, while in the same team uniform. The fathers were shown in a larger photo while the sons were pictured in a smaller action shot insert.
In 1994 The Sporting News, in conjunction with MegaCards, did an admirable job of producing a 330-card series featuring photos taken by legendary sports photographer Charles Conlon. Similar series were produced in the three prior years. Included in the 1994 series were a dozen cards showing major-league brothers, who had played during 1900 to 1945, on a single card. For some of the players, it was the only baseball card ever produced with their image. Cards for Dizzy and Daffy Dean, Wes and Rick Farrell, and Bubbles and Pinky Hargrave contained a single Conlon photo of the players posed together, while the other cards contained separate Conlon images of the brothers. Some of the lesser known big-league brothers who were depicted in the subset included Andy and Hugh High, Wade and Bill Killefer, and Al and Ivey Wingo. A burgundy-bordered parallel set was also produced for the 1994 series.
The proliferation of parallel sets contributed to variations of cards showing major-league relatives. For example, brothers Bengie and Jose Molina were depicted together on several 2005 Topps-produced sets, including Base, 1st Edition, Chrome, Chrome Refractor and Chrome Black Refractor.
Similar to the 1992 Upper Deck set with Craig Griffey, the 2003 the Topps Heritage set included a single card of Joe Mauer and his brother, Jake, who was in the minors at the time.
The 2016 Topps Archives set included a subset of seven cards, containing family relationships on a single card, in the same format as the 1985 Topps version of the Father-Son subset. Ray and Bob Boone appeared in the 1985 set, while the 2016 set include Bob and Bret Boone. Tito and Terry Francona are carried over from the 1985 set, but with different retro card images. Recent major-leaguer Dee Gordon and his father, Tom, are also included.
Fortunately for collectors, the majority of cards depicting players with their relatives are very much available and still affordable, except for the older cards prior to 1960. My checklist of baseball cards with multiple relatives can be viewed at https://baseballrelatives.wordpress.com/baseball-cards/.
The cards described above primarily address the occurrences of players and their relatives on a single card. Of course, the majority of cards with family ties show the individual players by themselves.
For a couple of years now, I have corresponded periodically with a card collector, Scott, who has a special interest in baseball cards of major-leaguers that had a family member that also played in the majors. Scott’s initial collecting activities go back to when he was eight years old in the late 1970s. In the mid-1990s his focus on baseball families began to take shape, as he collected cards of some of the more noteworthy families such as the Boones, Bells and Alous. His collection extends beyond just the multi-player family cards described above. It also includes single-player cards of fathers, sons and brothers, as well.
Scott says about five years ago he got serious in his attempt to collect a card of every MLB family combination since 1957, the first year Topps standardized on the current card size. It’s an activity he shares with his son. They have meticulously arranged their collection in a book organized by family Families with more than two members are in front, and then the book is organized into Fathers-Sons and then Brothers. Scott especially favors the cards that show close-up shots (versus action shots), so that he can compare the resemblances of father-son and brother combinations. For example, Scott says Aaron Boone looks remarkably similar to card images of his grandfather, Ray, at the same age.
Scott even goes so far as to make up his own baseball cards of family members, when a player doesn’t have an official card printed by one of the major card companies, usually because the player’s major-league career consisted of only a few games. To do this, Scott finds a photo image of the player on the internet and prints them on card stock. He’s currently on a quest to find rare MLB images of Stu Pederson (father of current major-leaguer Joc Pederson) and Mike Glavine (brother of Hall of Fame player Tom Glavine) that can be used for home-made cards in his collection.
I’m betting there are quite a few more collectors like Scott who are using baseball cards to learn more about baseball’s many family relationships.
Tim Raines was recently inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, along with players Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell and executives Bud Selig and John Schuerholz.
Raines combined solid hitting with speed to become one of the game’s best leadoff hitters. He played in 23 seasons, compiling a .294 batting average, .385 on-base percentage, and .420 slugging percentage. He currently ranks fifth all-time in stolen bases and was a seven-time all-star selection.
His son, Tim Raines Jr., played briefly in the majors during 2001 to 2004 with the Baltimore Orioles.
In 2001, Tim Sr. was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles from Montreal so that he could play on the same team as his son. In three games at the end of the season, the father-son combo appeared together, becoming only the second father-son duo to accomplish this. Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. were the first father-son combo to play in the same major-league game in 1990.
For more information about Tim Raines Sr., follow the link below from the Montreal Gazette:
Alex Avila may be getting the impression his father doesn’t like him. Alex was traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Chicago Cubs on July 31. What makes this transaction unique is Alex’s father, Al, is the General Manager of the Tigers and responsible for making the deal.
But this isn’t the first time Alex has been dumped by his father. After the 2015 season, Alex, then playing catcher for the Tigers, was granted free agency by his father, as the Tigers went in different direction at the catcher position.
Alex’s grandfather, Rafael Avila, was also involved in professional baseball as a scout and executive in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
For more information about Alex Avila’s recent trade, follow the links below:
Lee May, a three-time major-league all-star, passed away on July 29. He played for 18 seasons during 1965 to 1982. He was a member of the famous Cincinnati Reds “Big Red Machine” team in the early 1970s. May was a career .267 hitter, with 354 home runs and 1,244 RBI.
May has a son, Lee May Jr., who played professional baseball from 1986 to 1993 after being selected in the first round of the 1986 MLB Draft by the New York Mets. Lee Jr. is currently a coach in the Boston Red Sox farm system.
Lee Sr., is the grandfather of Jacob May, who made his major-league debut with the Chicago White Sox this year. His brother, Carlos May, was a major-leaguer from 1968 to 1977.
For more information about Lee May Sr.’s career, follow the link below from the Philadelphia Tribune:
Nicky made his major-league debut on August 1 for the Chicago White Sox against the Toronto Blue Jays. He got a hit and scored a run in the game. Two days later, he hit his first major-league home run against the Boston Red Sox. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 6th round of the 2011 and played in the Milwaukee Brewers organization before being signed by the White Sox organization for the 2015 season.
Nicky is the son of Rod Delmonico, the head coach at the University of Tennessee from 1990 to 2007. Rod coached the Netherlands in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Nicky has a brother, Tony, who also played professional baseball in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization from 2008 to 2012, and later played in independent leagues until 2015.
For more information about Nicky’s start of his major-league career, follow the links below: