A Look at Family Ties Through the Cardboard Hobby

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

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.

1936 National Chicle Waners
1936 National Chicle Co. Fine Pens, Unnumbered

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.

1955 Bowman Shantz
1955 Bowman Card No. 139

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.

1993 Bowman Bonds
1993 Bowman Card No. 702

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.

2016 Topps Archive Gordon
2016 Topps Archives Card No. FS-GGO

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/.

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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.

Scott at Coors Field
Card collector Scott and his children at Coors Field

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.

Family Ties Flourishing in Baseball – St. Louis Cardinals

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

This is the fifth 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.

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

Ken Boyer had an MVP season with the Cardinals in 1964, when they won the National League pennant and defeated the New York Yankees in seven games in the World Series.  Altogether he played seven seasons with the Cardinals, which included seven all-star selections.  He later managed the Cardinals for one full season and portions of two others during 1978 to 1980.  Ken had six brothers who played professional baseball, including Clete and Cloyd who reached the major leagues.  Clete played for the Yankees and opposed his brother in the 1964 World Series, in which they both homered in Game 7.  Cloyd pitched in five major league seasons during 1949 to 1955.  He later coached and scouted for several major league teams.  Ken’s son, David, played five minor league seasons in the Cardinals organization.

Jose Cruz was one of three brothers who played for the Cardinals in the 1970s.  Jose was the best of the three outfielders, putting in 19 major league seasons and recording a .284 career batting average and 1,077 career RBI.  He spent 13 of his seasons with the Houston Astros, where he had two all-star selections.  Jose’s brother, Hector, spent four seasons with the Cardinals as part of a 9-year career, mostly as a reserve outfielder.  Jose’s brother, Cirilo (Tommy), appeared in only three Cardinals games in 1973, and practically all of his pro career was spent in the minors and in Japan.  Hector and Jose once hit home runs while on opposing teams on May 4, 1981.  Jose’s son, Jose Jr., played twelve major league seasons, mostly with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Jose Jr. was runner-up for American League Rookie of the Year in 1997.  Jose had another son, J. E., who played five seasons in the minors.

Chick Hafey played for the Cardinals from 1924 to 1931, contributing to four National League pennant-winning teams.  They won the World Series in 1926 and 1931.  Over his 13-year major-league career, he compiled a .317 batting average and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 by the Veterans Committee.  Chick’s brother, Albert (also nicknamed Chick), pitched for one minor league season in 1913.  Chick had two cousins, Bud and Tom, who played briefly in the majors, and a third cousin, Will, who played in the minors in the 1940s and 1950s.

Lindy McDaniel was one of the top relief pitchers of his era after beginning his career with the Cardinals as a starter in 1955.  Overall, he spent 21 years in the big leagues, including eight with the Cardinals, in which he won 141 games and saved another 174.  Lindy’s brother, Von, only weeks out of high school, joined Lindy at the major-league level with the Cardinals in 1957 and was outstanding pitching prospect.  However, Von he developed a sore arm the next year from which he never recovered.  Von spent the remainder of his nine-year minor-league career as a third baseman and outfielder, but never returned to the majors.  Lindy and Von had a third brother, Butch, who signed with the Cardinals out of high school, but only managed to play three seasons in the minors.

Red Schoendienst has had one of the longest tenures of any Cardinal in history, first as a player, then as a coach and manager.  At age 94, he is still retained by the Cardinals as a special assistant to the Cardinals’ front office.  He played for 19 years in the majors, including 15 with the Cardinals.  He was a 10-time all-star, compiling a .289 career batting average.  He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 by the Veterans Committee.  Schoendienst managed the Cardinals for twelve consecutive seasons, earning a World Series ring in 1967 and other NL pennant in 1968.  He served as an interim manager of the Cardinals in 1980 and 1990, while he was coach for the team.  Red’s son, Kevin, played in the minors for the Cubs organization in 1980 and 1981.  Red had four brothers who played in the minors during the 1940s.

Harry Walker began his 11-year major-league career with the Cardinals in 1940 and had an all-star year before going into military service in 1944 and 1945.  He was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1947, when he recorded another all-star year leading the National League in batting average (.363) and on-base percentage (.436).  During his last season as a player with the Cardinals in 1955, he replaced Eddie Stanky as manager for the final 118 games.  He later managed the Pittsburgh Pirates for three seasons and the Houston Astros for five seasons.  Harry was the son of Dixie Walker, who pitched for the Washington Senators during 1909 to 1912.  Harry’s brother, also named Dixie, had an 18-year career as an outfielder for five teams, including the Brooklyn Dodgers where he was an all-star in four seasons.  Harry and Dixie are the only brothers to both win major league batting titles.  Harry’s uncle, Ernie Walker, played in the outfield with the St. Louis Browns from 1913 to 1915.

Dizzy Dean was one of the most colorful figures in the history of the game.  He made his mark with the St. Louis Cardinals as part of the Gas House Gang from 1932 to 1937, when he won 134 games.  1934 was his best season, winning 30 games and leading the league in strikeouts on his way to an MVP Award.  The Cardinals, led by Dean’s two victories, captured the World Series title that year.  Dean’s career was impacted by hurting his arm in 1937, as a result of altering his pitching mechanics following a broken toe injury.  Despite his shortened career, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953.  After his playing career, he became a popular radio and TV broadcaster.  Dean’s brother, Paul, also pitched for the Cardinals, winning 19 games in each of the 1934 and 1935 seasons.  For those years, they formed one of the best brother-teammates combos in the history of the game.  In a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers on September 21, 1934, Dizzy pitched a no-hitter in the first game of a doubleheader, while Paul hurled a one-hitter in the second game.

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

Matt Carpenter completed his sixth season with the Cardinals in 2016, which included his third all-star selection.  2013 has been his best season to date, as he compiled a .319 batting average and led the National League in hits and runs.  Matt’s brother, Tyler, was a catcher in the Mets farm system during 2011 and 212.

Greg Garcia, a Cardinals infielder, had the best season of his three-year career on 2016.  He had been a 10th-round pick of the Cardinals in the 2010 MLB Draft.  His brother, Drew, spent eight minor-league seasons in the Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies organizations.  Greg’s grandfather, Dave, was a major-league manager from 1977 to 1982 in the California Angels and Cleveland Indians organizations.  Dave played third base in the minors from 1939 to 1957, followed by stints as a minor-league manager and a major-league coach.

Matt Holliday had been a mainstay in the lineup for the Cardinals for seven seasons, although his 2015 and 2016 seasons were marred by injuries.  During his time with the Cards, he compiled a .293 average, 156 HR and 616 RBI, and appeared in two World Series.  With Colorado in 2007, he led the National league in batting average, hits, doubles, and RBI.  Matt is the son of Tom Holliday, who played one season with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in 1975.  Tom later became head coach and pitching coach at several high-profile colleges.  Matt’s brother, Josh, played two seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system before following his father in the coaching ranks.  He is now the head coach at Oklahoma State, where his father previously held the same job.  Matt’s uncle, Dave Holliday, is currently a scout in the Atlanta Braves organization.  Matt was signed as a free agent by the New York Yankees over the winter.

Jose Martinez made his major league debut with the Cardinals in 2016.  The outfielder/first baseman began his professional career in 2006 at age 17 in the Venezuelan Summer League.  His father is Carlos Martinez, a native Venezuelan who played outfielder/third baseman in the majors during 1988 – 1995.  Jose’s brother, Teodoro, was an outfielder for seven minor-leagues seasons during 2009 to 2015.

Yadier Molina is likely on his way to a Hall of Fame election, having been one of the top catchers of his era.  The 33-year-old began his major league career with the Cardinals in 2004.  Thirteen years later, he has compiled a .284 average, collecting over 1,500 hits and 700 RBI.  Yadier has won eight Gold Glove Awards.  In 89 post-season games, including four World Series, he has hit .289.  Yadier is one of three brothers to have played catcher in the major leagues.  Bengie won a World Series with the Anaheim Angles in 2002.  Jose won World Series titles with the Angels in 2002 and the Yankees in 2009.

Steven Piscotty, a product of the highly-rated Cardinals farm system, played his first full major-league season in 2016.  In 153 games he posted 22 HR, 85 RBI and a .273 average.  Steven had been a first-round draft pick out of Stanford University by the Cardinals in 2012.  His brother, Nick, was selected in the 32nd round by the Kansas City Royals in the 2011 MLB Draft, but did not sign.

Michael Wacha, only one season out of college, gained national attention with the Cardinals in the 2013 post-season, as he won four of five starts.  However, a shoulder injury incurred in 2014 has affected his number of innings in the last four seasons.  His career won-loss record is 33-21 with a 3.74 ERA.  Michael’s uncle, Dusty Rogers, was a first-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in the January 1984 and went on to pitch five seasons in the minors.

Kolten Wong completed his fourth season with the Cardinals in 2016, when his playing time decreased at second base and he began playing some games in the outfield.  His job security as the regular starter at second is likely in jeopardy for 2017.  Kolten’s brother, Kean, is currently a second baseman in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

The Cardinals pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives played professionally: Tyler Bray, a relief pitcher in his third season in the Cardinals farm system, has a brother, Colin, who is an outfielder in the Diamondbacks organization; Anthony Garcia, who split time between the Double-A and Triple-A levels last year, is the son of former major leaguer Leo Garcia, who is currently a minor-league coach in the Los Angeles Dodgers system; Corey Littrell, a third-generation professional who spent the 2016 season with Triple-A Memphis, is the grandson of former major leaguer Jack Littrell, while his father pitched in the minors from 1977 to 1980; C. J. McElroy, the 3rd-round pick of the Cardinals in the 2011 MLB draft, is the son of former major-league pitcher Chuck McElroy, the nephew of former major-league first baseman Cecil Cooper, and brother of Satchel McElroy, an outfielder in the Cincinnati Reds organization; Casey Turgeon, the 22nd-round pick out of the University of Florida in 2014 who advanced to Double-A last year, is the nephew of Dave Turgeon, a minor league coordinator in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

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

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

Bill DeWitt, Jr. is owner and chairman of the Cardinals.  He had previously been a part owner/investor with the Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, and Texas Rangers.  Bill’s son, Bill DeWitt III, is currently president of the Cardinals.  Bill Jr.’s father, Bill DeWitt, Sr., was a part-owner and general manager of the St. Louis Browns when they won their only American League pennant in 1944.  He later owned the Cincinnati Reds and served in the front offices of the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers.  Bill Jr. was a batboy for the Browns when his father was affiliated with the team.

Marty Keough is a long-time scout in the Cardinals organization.  He had an eleven-year career as a major league outfielder with six teams without ever having a full-time job.  His brother, Joe, was also a reserve outfielder and first baseman for six major-league seasons, primarily with the Kansas City Royals.  Another brother, Thomas, had a “cup of coffee” in the Boston Red Sox organization in 1954.  Marty’s son, Matt, was a big league pitcher from 1977 to 1987, winning 16 games with the Oakland A’s in 1980.  After his playing career, he served in scouting and executive roles for several clubs.  Marty is the grandfather of Shane Keough, who played four minor league seasons in the A’s organization, and Colton Keough, who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2010, but did not sign.

Mike Matheny completed his fifth year as manager of the Cardinals in 2016.  He has three first-place and two second-place finishes during his tenure, including a National League pennant in 2013.  Matheny was a major-league catcher from 1994 to 2006, including five seasons with the Cardinals.  His son, Tate, an outfielder in the Boston Red Sox farm system, was drafted by the Red Sox in the 4th round in 2015. Mike has two other sons currently in the college ranks:  Luke plays for Oklahoma State University, while Jake plays at Indiana University.

Aaron Looper is currently a scout in the Red Sox organization.  During his 10-season pro career, he appeared in the majors in only one season in 2003 for the Seattle Mariners.  His cousin, Braden Looper, was a relief pitcher in the majors for twelve seasons and currently works in the Cardinals front office.  Aaron’s father, Benny, has been a scout and player development executive in the Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies organizations.  Aaron’s brother, Jason was selected in the 31st round of the 2000 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners, but did not sign.

Derrick May is a minor league hitting instructor in the Cardinals organization.  His father, Dave, was a major-league outfielder from 1967 to 1978, compiling his best season with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1973 with 25 HR, 93 RBI and a .303 batting average.  His brother, Dave Jr., is currently a scout in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.  Derrick’s son, also named Derrick, was the 37th-round pick of the Cardinals in 2013, but did not sign.

Jose Oquendo is currently the third-base coach for the Cardinals.  His son, Eduardo, was the 32nd-round pick of the Cardinals in 2012, but did not sign.

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/