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.



David Bell Continues Family Tradition in Baseball

David Bell is part of a rare three-generation family that has played major-league baseball.  There are only four instances of this occurring in the history of the game.  He recently landed a front-office job with the San Francisco Giants.

David played in the majors from 1995 to 2006.  He is the son of Buddy Bell, a third baseman who played in the majors from 1972 to 1989.  David’s grandfather, outfielder Gus Bell, played from 1950 to 1964.  David’s brother, Mike, played in one major-league season in 2002.  Except for Gus, the family members continued their baseball careers after their playing days.

David was recently named the Vice President of Player Development for the Giants, after serving as a minor-league manager and big-league coach.

Mike currently holds the same job as David with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Buddy has previously been the manager of the Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies, and Kansas City Royals.

For more information about David Bell’s career, follow the link below from sfgate:


Family Ties Flourishing in Baseball: Cleveland Indians

Compiled by Richard Cuicchi

This is the eighth 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.

The Cleveland Indians were filled with examples of players and non-players that had relatives in baseball. Some of the more noteworthy ones include:

Buddy Bell was a five-time all-star and six-time Gold Glove Award winner as a third baseman during his 18 major-league seasons, including seven with the Indians.  Buddy also managed three major league teams and is currently an executive with the Chicago White Sox.  Bell is part of one of only a handful of three-generation players in the history of major-league baseball.  His son, David, is the current bench coach of the Cardinals.  During David’s major-league playing career that spanned from 1995 to 2006 with six different major-league clubs, he was a career .257 hitter. Buddy’s father, Gus, was a four-time all-star during his nine seasons with the Cincinnati Reds.  Overall, Gus played 15 seasons, ending in 1964.  Buddy’s son, Mike, played briefly with the Cincinnati Reds in 2000 and now currently works in the front office of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Ray Boone was a major league infielder from 1948 to 1960, including all-star seasons in 1954 and 1956.  The infielder played for the Indians from 1948 to 1953.  His family is also a three-generation major-league baseball family.  His son, Bob, is a senior advisor to the Washington Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo.  Bob was a major-league catcher for nineteen years (1972-1990), including four all-star and seven Gold Glove Award seasons.  Bob also managed in the majors for six seasons, splitting his time between the Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds.  Two of Ray’s grandsons, Bret and Aaron, had lengthy major league careers as infielders, both of whom had all-star seasons, while another son, Matt, played seven seasons in the minors.

Larry Doby Sr. was the first African-American player in the American League, making his major-league debut for the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947, barely three months after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the major leagues.  The outfielder went on to have a Hall of Fame career that included seven all-star selections and the runner-up spot in the 1954 American League MVP voting.  His son, Larry Jr., played three minor-league seasons in Class A.

Oscar Grimes played nine years in the majors, including his first five with the Cleveland Indians.  The infielder was a career .256 hitter between 1938 and 1946.  His father, Ray, was a career .329 hitter during his six major-league seasons from 1920 to 1926.  His uncle, Roy, played only 26 games in his only major-league season with the New York Giants in 1920.  Ray and Roy were one of only eight sets of twins to ever play in the major leagues.

Jim Hegan played fourteen of his seventeen major-league seasons with the Cleveland Indians, earning five all-star selections.  The catcher played in the World Series with the Indians in 1948 and 1954.  He later became a coach for the New York Yankees.  His son, Mike, signed after one year in college at Holy Cross with the Yankees and made his major-league debut with them in 1964, while his father was still coaching.  Mike went on to play twelve major-league seasons, including an all-star selection with the expansion Seattle Pilots in 1969, their only year of existence.  Mike later became a broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers and Cleveland Indians.

Orestes “Minnie” Minoso began his major-league career with the Cleveland Indians in 1949.  However, it was with the Chicago White Sox that he made most of his impact.  The speedy outfielder was runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 1951 and was selected an American League all-star in seven seasons.  He returned to the Indians in 1958 and 1959.  In four different seasons, he finished fourth in the voting for league’s MVP.  Altogether, he posted a .298 career batting average, collecting over 1,950 hits.  His son, Orestes Jr., played in five minor-league seasons with the Kansas City Royals and White Sox organizations.  His grandson, Sam Macias, played in the rookie league for the White Sox farm system in 2013 and 2014.

Ray Narleski pitched for five seasons with the Cleveland Indians, both as a starter and reliever, during 1954 to 1958.  He posted a career record of 43-33, with 28 saves and a 3.60 ERA.  He is part of a three-generation baseball family.  His father, William E. “Bill”, played two seasons for the Boston Red Sox in 1929 and 1930, while his son, Steve, pitched in the Indians’ farm system from 1976 to 1983.  Ray’s two brothers, Bill Jr. and Theodore, and his uncle, William L., had minor-league careers.

Russ Nixon was a catcher for twelve major-league seasons, including four with the Cleveland Indians during 1957 and 1960.  He managed the Cincinnati Reds from 1982 to 1983 and the Atlanta Braves from 1988 to 1990.  His twin brother, Roy, was a first baseman in the Indians farm system from 1953 to 1957.

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

Michael Brantley was in his eighth year with the Indians last year, when his season was cut short by injury.  The outfielder’s best year was in 2014 when he finished 3rd in the voting for MVP.  He is the son of Mickey Brantley, an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners from 1986 to 1989.

Yan Gomes was in his fourth season with the Indians, when he also was injured after 74 games.  He was the Silver Slugger Award winner as a catcher in 2014.  His brother, Juan, played briefly in the Indians and Miami Marlins organizations last year.  Yan is the brother-in-law of Atlee Hammaker, a former major-league pitcher for twelve seasons, including an all-star year in 1983 when led the National League with a 2.25 ERA.

Jeff Manship was in his second season with the Indians last year as a middle relief pitcher.  He made his major-league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2009 after being drafted out of Notre Dame in 2006.  Jeff’s brother, Matt, played one minor-league season in the Oakland A’s organization in 2006.

Zach McAllister was in his second season as a converted relief pitcher last year, posting a 3.44 ERA.  He began his major-league career with the Indians in 2011, after being a 3rd-round selection of the New York Yankees in 2006.  Zach’s father, Steve, was a scout in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization last year, after having previously served in the same capacity for the Milwaukee Brewers, California Angels, and Boston Red Sox.

The Indians’ pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives played professionally, several of them with famous last names in baseball.

Conner Capel was the 5th-round draft choice of the Indians in 2016.  He made his professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League.  He is the son of Mike Capel, who pitched parts of three major-league seasons during 1988 to 1991.

Joe Sever completed his fifth season as a first baseman in the Indians organization last year, after being drafted in the 21st round in 2012.  With Double-A Akron last, he hit .251 with 4 HR and 35 RBI.  He is the nephew of John Elway, NFL Hall of Fame player, an outfielder in the New York Yankees organization in 1982.

Luke Wakamatsu was drafted out of high school in the 20th round of the 2015 MLB Draft and finished his second pro season at the Class A level last year.  The infielder is the son of Don Wakamatsu, who played part of one major-league season with the Indians in 1991 and was manager of the Seattle Mariners in 2009-2010.

Bradley Zimmer was a first-round draft pick of the Indians in 2014 and has progressed through the Indians farm system, including 37 games with Triple-A Columbus last season.  The outfielder is the brother of Kyle Zimmer, a first-round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 2012, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery in October 2014.


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

Sandy Alomar Jr. was the first-base coach for the Indians last year.  He was Rookie of the Year for the Indians in 1990 and was selected to six all-star teams with them.  He was a career .273 hitter in twenty major-league seasons.  His brother, Roberto, was a Hall of Fame second baseman during 1988 to 2004.  Their father, Sandy Sr., was a major-league infielder from 1964 to 1978 for six different clubs.  He had an all-star season with the California Angels in 1970.

Terry Francona, the manager of the Indians, led the team to their first World Series since 1995.  He previously won two Series titles as manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007.  Francona also had a ten-year playing career as a first baseman and outfielder.  His father, Tito, was a major-leaguer player from 1956 to 1970, including six seasons with the Indians.  He was an all-star selection in 1961 with the Indians.

Tom Hamilton is a broadcaster for the Indians.  His son, Nick, was a minor-league infielder in the Indians organization from 2012 to 2014.

Steve McCatty was a pitching coach in the Indians minor-league system last year, after serving as the pitching coach for the Washington Nationals from 2009 to 2015.  He had formerly pitched for the Oakland A’s from 1977 to 1985.  His son, Shane, was a pitcher in the Nationals organization from 2009 to 2012.

Brad Mills was the bench coach for the Indians last year, having also served in that capacity with Francona at Boston.  He managed the Houston Astros from 2010 to 2012 and was an infielder for the Montreal Expos from 1980 to 1983.  His son, Beau, was the first-round pick of the Indians in 2007 and played six minor-league seasons with the organization as a first baseman.

Mike Seghi worked in the Indians front office as director of team travel last year.  He is the son of Phil Seghi, the former general manager of the Indians from 1973 to 1985.

Robby Thompson served as a special assistant for the Indians last season.  He played second base for the San Francisco Giants from 1986 to 1996, which included two all-star seasons.  He was a coach for the Giants, Indians and Seattle Mariners.  He had twin sons who also played baseball.  Tyler was drafted out of the University of Florida, his father’s alma mater, by the Washington Nationals in the 46th round in 2011.  Logan was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2010 and played one minor-league season with them.


Baseball’s Relatives Website

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



Baseball Relatives Prominent in the Mid-Summer All-Star Classic

This year’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 16 in New York will mark eighty years since the first mid-summer classic. In my book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives, I noted that the All-Star Game is just one of many themes in understanding how baseball’s family relationships have permeated the game over the years. This year’s All-Star teams will be no exception.

Before I delve into the history of baseball’s relatives as participants in the All-Star Game, I’d like to quickly review the beginnings of this event in 1933. The game was initially conceived to be a one-time charity event in conjunction with the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933. It was suggested by Chicago Tribune sports editor, Arch Ward, not by the officials associated with Major League Baseball. From the very beginning, it was proposed that the fans be allowed to vote on the roster of players. Naturally, that idea caught on because the fans saw an opportunity to see a “dream team” collection of baseball’s star players of the day. However, some of the Major League owners were skeptical of the inaugural game, because they were concerned it would set a precedent of continuing to be a charity event, if the game was repeated as an annual occurrence.

Of course, the annual game did continue. With the exception of the war year 1945, there has been an All-Star game each year since 1933. During the years 1959-1961, there were actually two All-Star games played each year.

Eighty years ago, the first All-Star game included brothers Rick and Wes Ferrell. Other players on the All-Star squads, Bill Dickey, Paul Waner, and Tony Cuccinello, also had brothers who played in the big leagues. All-Star Earl Averill would have a son who was a major leaguer.

The 2013 All-Stars will likely include Robinson Cano, Yadier Molina, Prince Fielder, and Justin Upton, each of whom has a relative in Major League Baseball. In 2011, when Cano participated in the Home Run Derby competition prior to the All-Star game, his father Jose, a former Houston Astros player in 1969, pitched to his son. Fielder’s father, Cecil, had been an All-Star selection for three years in the early 1990s.

The three DiMaggio brothers (Joe, Dominic, and Vince) made twenty-two All-Star teams between them. From 1936 to 1952, at least one DiMaggio brother played on an All-Star team, except for 1945 when the game was cancelled due to travel restrictions during World War II. Joe and Dominic were teammates on All-Star teams on six occasions, but only once did they appear as starters in the same game.

In 1942, Mort and Walker Cooper were starting battery mates, the only such combination in All-Star history. They were both starters, representing the St. Louis Cardinals, in 1943 as well.

When Buddy Bell appeared in the 1973 All-Star Game for the American League, he and his father Gus became the first father-son combination to appear in the mid-summer classic.

In the 1990 All-Star Game, brothers Sandy and Roberto Alomar were selected to play, while their father Sandy , Sr. was named a coach for the American League. Sandy and Roberto Alomar are the only set of brothers to appear as both teammates and opponents in All-Star Game contests.

The only father-son combination to be named Most Valuable Player in the All-Star Game were Ken Griffey, Sr. (1980) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1992).

Family Ties can be purchased at http://thetenthinning.com/store.html.

Father-Son Combo on Opposite Sides of Chicago Rivalry

In recent interleague play, the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs squared off. On the Cubs bench was David Bell, the third-base coach for the Cubs. On the White Sox side, his father, Buddy Bell, is the Assistant GM for the White Sox. They are a family steeped in baseball tradition, one of only four occurrences of a three-generation family in baseball. Buddy’s father, Gus, was a former major leaguer in the 1950s and 1960s. Buddy had two other sons, Mike and Ricky, who also played professional baseball.

See attached article from the Chicago Sun-Times: