A Tale of Two Griffeys: One Very Good, One Dominant

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

There have been nearly 250 father-son combinations to play in Major League Baseball. History shows that it’s pretty rare for both the father and the son to excel on the diamond at a high level comprising leadership in batting or pitching categories, all-star selections, and post-season appearances.

Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Tony Perez, and Earl Averill had major-league sons with marginal success as big-leaguers themselves, while Joe Wood and Ed Walsh’s sons were in the majors only long enough for the proverbial “cup of coffee.” Pete Rose’s son spent 21 years in the minors, but managed to get into only 11 games in the Big Show. The sons of Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle never made it out of the low minor leagues.

On the other hand, there are a few good examples of father and son careers that were both highly successful. One of those was Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr. was simply one of the best players in baseball history. In 1998 The Sporting News came up with their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players of all time which included Griffey Jr. who was then only 28 years old.  He joined legendary players such as Ruth, Aaron, Cobb, Williams, Mays, Musial, and DiMaggio.  The ultimate honor for a baseball player is his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Griffey Jr. came closest of any player to being a unanimous Hall of Fame inductee in 2016, garnering 99.3% of the baseball writers’ votes.

Griffey Jr. had the distinction of being the first player in history to appear with his father in the same major-league game. 19-year-old Griffey Jr. and his 40-year-old father, Ken Sr., were teammates with the Seattle Mariners in 1990 when they first played together on August 21.  Three weeks later they hit back-to-back home runs in the same game.

While the Mariners’ roster featuring both Griffeys may have been somewhat of a publicity stunt at the time, Griffey Sr.’s own career was nothing to sneeze at. His performance is often overshadowed by his son’s superstardom.  Even though he wasn’t a Hall of Famer like his son (Griffey Sr. received a meager 4.7% of the votes in his only year of eligibility in 1999), Griffey Sr. did manage to log a few All-Star seasons and claim two World Series rings.

Here is more background and comparison of the careers of the two outstanding players.

Both Griffeys were born in Denora, PA, which was also the birthplace of Stan Musial. Griffey Jr. shares the same birthday as Musial.

Griffey Sr. began his professional career at age 19 in 1969, being drafted in the 29th round by the Cincinnati Reds.  However, he didn’t make his major-league debut until August 25, 1973 at age 23.  Griffey Jr. was the first overall pick in the 1987 MLB Draft by Seattle when he was 17 years old and made his major-league debut on April 3, 1989.  Griffey Jr. went on to play in 22 big-league seasons, while his dad recorded 19 seasons.  Both were outfielders.

Griffey Sr.’s career slash line (Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage) was .296/.359/.431 compared to Junior’s .284/.370/.538. The biggest contributor to their difference in Slugging Percentage was Junior’s 630 career home runs, currently sixth on the all-time leader list.  Griffey Sr.’s highest season was 21 home runs, as he managed to hit only 152 during his career.  Junior led the American League in round-trippers in four seasons and hit 40 or more in seven seasons.  Griffey Sr. had the edge over his father in Batting Average, as he compiled nine seasons with .300 or better.

Griffey Jr. was selected to 13 All-Star teams while his father appeared on three, including an All-Star Game MVP Award in 1980. Griffey Jr. also captured the award in 1992.

In addition to Junior, Griffey Sr. had another son, Craig, who took up a pro baseball career from 1991 to 1997. Craig appeared in seven minor-league seasons in the Mariners and Reds organizations but managed to reach the Triple-A level for only a handful of games.  Griffey Jr.’s son, Trey (Ken Griffey III), pursued football over baseball as his sport of choice.  He wound up playing wide receiver for the University of Arizona for four seasons, had tryouts with the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins, but has yet to make an active NFL team roster.  With no expectation of pursuing a pro baseball career, Trey was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 24th round of the 2016 MLB Draft as a tribute to his father (Griffey Jr.’s uniform number with the Mariners was 24.).

Griffey Sr.’s biggest claim to fame, and perhaps his most significant accomplishment over his son, came as a member of the fabled Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine” teams in the early-to-mid 1970s. He helped the Reds win the World Series in 1975 and 1976.  Junior played on three post-season teams, two with Seattle and one with the Chicago White Sox, but his teams reached the American League Championship Series only once.

Griffey Jr. attained a peak salary of $12.5 million in four seasons with Cincinnati. He earned a total of $151.7 million during his career.  Of course the economics of baseball were different when Griffey Sr. was playing.  He collected a little over $10 million during his entire career, with his highest annual salary being $1.15 million for Atlanta in 1987.

The Griffeys rank among the top major-league father-son duos for combined career performances. They lead all pairs in career hits, and rank second all-time behind Barry and Bobby Bonds in games played, runs scored, home runs, and RBI.

In addition to the Bondses, other successful major-league father-son combos include Felipe and Moises Alou, George and Dick Sisler, Gus and Buddy Bell, and Mel and Todd Stottlemyre.

Former big-league stars Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Craig Biggio and Dante Bichette currently have sons in the low minors trying to follow in their father’s footsteps. Perhaps one of these will be successful in forming the next great MLB father-son duo.

 

Advertisements

Family Ties Flourishing in Baseball – San Francisco Giants

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

This is the sixth in a series of reviews that will take a look at family relationships in each of the thirty major-league organizations.

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 of them 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, as well.

Giants’ history is filled with examples of players and non-players that had relatives in baseball. Some of the more noteworthy ones include:

Bobby Bonds made his major league debut with the Giants in 1968, en route to a 14-year major-league career.  He joined the team that featured future Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry.  Bonds was no slouch either, as he belted 186 home runs and 552 RBI, while stealing 263 bases in his seven seasons with the Giants.  Over his career, he was selected as an all-star on three occasions and finished in the top four of the MVP Award voting twice.  His son was Barry Bonds, the all-time leader in home runs and fourth on the all-time list for on-base plus slugging percentage.  Barry was the MVP Award winner seven times.  Bobby’s son, Bobby Jr., played professional baseball for seven seasons in the San Diego and San Francisco farm systems from 1992 to 1998.  In the Class A California League All-Star Game in 1997, Bobby Jr. was scheduled to play in the same outfield as Garry Maddox Jr. and Gary Matthews Jr., but injuries to Maddox and Bonds prevented it from occurring.  Maddox and Matthew were sons of former Giants outfielders as well.

Carl Hubbell was a Hall of Fame pitcher who spent his entire 16 years with the New York Giants.  He had five consecutive seasons with 20 or more victories, winning 253 altogether in his career.  The lefty helped the Giants to three National League pennants, including one World Series victory in 1933.  Hubbell gained fame for striking out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in succession in the 1934 All-Star Game.  Carl had two brothers, John and George, who also played professionally in the Giants and Pirates organizations, respectively.  Carl’s son, Carl Jr., pitched one season in the Giants farm system in 1958.

Hal Lanier was an infielder for the Giants from 1964 to 1971 and spent two more seasons with the New York Yankees before turning to a coaching and managerial career.  He served as a coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and later managed the Houston Astros from 1986 to 1988 earning Manager of the Year honors in 1986.  In 2016 at age 74, he was still managing in the independent leagues.  Hal’s father was Max Lanier, who pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals for 12 seasons.  He was one of a dozen major-league players that jumped to the Mexican League in 1946, lured by higher salaries offered by the league owner.  Max eventually returned to Major League Baseball.

Garry Maddox played three full seasons and part of another with the Giants before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in May 1975, where he won seven consecutive Gold Glove Awards as their centerfielder.  He played in two World Series with the Phillies, defeating the Kansas City Royals in 1980.  His son, Garry Jr., was a minor-league outfielder from 1997 to 2003, including a stint with the Phillies.  Garry Sr.’s son, Derrick, played part of one season in the Phillies organization in 1998.

Gary Matthews Sr. played his first five seasons with the Giants, earning Rookie of the Year honors in 1973 and sharing the outfield with Bobby Bonds and Garry Maddox.  Altogether, Matthews played sixteen seasons in the majors, winning a World Series with Philadelphia in 1983.  His son, Gary Jr. played twelve major-league seasons with seven different clubs, making an appearance in the All-Star Game in 2006.  Gary Sr.’s son, Dustin, played one minor-league season in the Chicago White Sox organization.  His son, Del, worked in the White Sox front office.

Don Mueller, part of a three-generation family of players, played ten seasons with the New York Giants, including the 1954 team which upset the heavily-favored Cleveland Indians in the World Series.  Mueller led the league in hits (212) that season, while posting a career-high .342 batting average.  His career average was .296.  Don is the son of Walter Mueller, who played parts of four seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1922 to 1926.  Don’s brother, Leroy, played in the Red Sox and Yankees organizations in 1947 and 1948.  Don’s son, Mark, was an infielder in the Cardinals and Mets organizations from 1971 to 1973.  Don’s two grandsons played college baseball.

Matt Williams played ten of his seventeen major-league seasons with the Giants, for whom he hit 247 home runs and 732 RBI.  The third baseman was both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner for several seasons.  He played with the 1989 Giants team that won the National League pennant.  Matt managed the Washington Nationals in 2014 and 2015, winning Manager of the Year in his first year.  Matt’s grandfather, Bert Griffith, was a major-league outfielder from 1922 to 1924.  Matt’s son, Jake played two minor-league seasons in the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system.

Fast forwarding to more recent times, below are some highlights of baseball relatives in the Giants organization during 2016.

Gregor Blanco was a reserve outfielder with the Giants in 2016, his fifth season with them.  He is a career.258 hitter with 101 stolen bases.  His twin brother, Gregory, played in the Anaheim Angels farm system in 2003.

Santiago Casilla has been the Giants’ primary closer for the past two seasons.  He has thirteen years in the majors, including six with the Oakland A’s.  He was a member of the Giants’ World Series championship teams in 2010, 2012 and 2014.  Santiago’s brother, Jose, has been a pitcher in the Giants farm system since 2006.

Conor Gillaspie had his second stint with the Giants in 2016, having previously played for them from 2008 to 2012.  The third baseman had a hot bat in September last year, hitting for a .338 average, to help the Giants hang on to a wild-card berth.  His brother, Casey, was a first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014 and advanced to the Triple-A level last year.  His father, Mark, was an outfielder and first baseman in the minors from 1981 to 1988.

Derek Law made his major-league debut with the Giants in 2016, serving primarily as a middle reliever.  He had been drafted by the Giants in the 9th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.  His father, Joe, was a starting pitcher for nine seasons in the Oakland A’s farm system.

Hunter Pence, the charismatic leader of the Giants, completed his fifth season with the Giants last year.  He missed a good part of the season due to injury, but still managed to hit thirteen home runs and 57 RBI, while compiling a .289 batting average.  He is a three-time all-star.  His brother, Howard, was a pitcher in the minors from 2003 to 2007.

Hunter Strickland made 72 appearances with the Giants in 2016, mostly in middle relief.  Originally the 18th round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2007, the 6-foot-4 right-hander completed his third season with the Giants last year.  Hunter’s father, Kenneth, pitched one season in the Tigers farm system in 1968.

The Giants’ pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives played professionally:

Jonah Arenado hit 17 home runs and 68 RBI for the Giants’ Class A affiliate San Jose in 2016.  His brother is Nolan Arenado, the home run and RBI leader in the National League for the past two seasons. Shawon Dunston Jr. is the son of Giants coach Shawon Dunston, who had an 18-year major-league career.  Shawon Jr. was the 11th-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2011. Jacob Heyward was the 18th round pick of the Giants in 2016 and batted .330 in his first pro season.  He is the brother of Jason Heyward of the Chicago Cubs. Dylan Manwaring played in the Giants farm system in 2016.  His father is Kirt Manwaring, former Giants major leaguer and currently a minor-league coach with the Giants. Tyler Rogers played at the Triple-A level in the Giants minor leagues in 2016.  His twin brother, Taylor, made his major league debut in 2016 with the Minnesota Twins as a middle relief pitcher. Jose Vizcaino Jr. appeared in his second season in the Giants farm system last year after being their 7th round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.  His father, Jose Sr. played two of his eighteen major-league seasons with the Giants.

The 2016 Giants had their share of baseball relatives in the dugout and front office, too.

Felipe Alou is currently a special assistant with the Giants, but got his start in the organization as an outfielder in 1958.  He went on to a 17-year career in which he compiled a .286 batting average and three all-star appearances and then a 14-year managerial career, including four with the Giants.  He is the brother of two former major leaguers, Matty and Jesus.  They became the first trio of brothers to play in the same game on September 10, 1963, when they manned the outfield positions for the Giants.  Felipe’s son, Moises, was a six-time all-star in his seventeen major-league seasons, which included a World Series championship with the Florida Marlins in 1997.  Felipe has three other sons, Felipe Jr., Luis, and Jose, who hold various roles in professional baseball.  Felipe is the uncle of former major league pitcher Mel Rojas, whose best season included a 7-1 record and 1.43 ERA in 68 relief appearances.  Felipe is the cousin of Jose Sosa who pitched in parts of two seasons with the Houston Astros in 1975-1976.

Bruce Bochy, the current Giants manager, is on his way to an eventual Hall of Fame induction.  He has won over 1,700 games in his 22 years as a manager that includes four pennants and three World Series titles.  Brett Bochy had brief stints as a pitcher for his father in 2014 and 2015.

Duane Kuiper is a broadcaster for the Giants, in his 32nd year as a major-league announcer in 2016.  He played in the majors from 1974 to 1985 with the Cleveland Indians and the Giants.  His brother, Jeff, is a broadcast producer for the Giants, while brother Glenn is a broadcaster for the Oakland A’s.

Damon Minor played parts of four seasons as an infielder with the Giants during 2000 to 2004.  He is currently a minor league coach with the Giants.  His twin brother, Ryan, also appeared in four major league seasons in the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos organizations.  They are one of only eight sets of twins to appear in the majors.

Jorge Posada Sr. is a long-time major league scout, currently working in the Giants organization.  He is the father of Jorge Posada Jr., a 17-year, five-time all-star catcher with the New York Yankees.  Jorge Sr.’s brother, Leo, was a major-league outfielder for the Kansas City A’s in 1960 -1962.

Dave Righetti completed his 17th season as the Giants’ pitching coach in 2016.  He pitched for sixteen major-league seasons, primarily as a reliever for the New York Yankees, compiling an 82-79 record and 252 saves.  His father, Leo, was an infielder in the minor leagues from 1944 to 1957.  Dave’s brother, Steven, was an infielder in the Texas Rangers organization from 1977 to 1979.

The father-son combo of Paul Turco Jr. and Paul Turco Sr. are currently scouts in the Giants organization.  Paul Sr.’s son, Anthony, is a scout for the Boston Red Sox.  Both of his sons previously played in the minors.

Baseball’s Relatives Website

The entire list of 2016 active major and minor league players and non-players can be retrieved at:

https://baseballrelatives.wordpress.com/2016-family-ties/