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).