Contributed by Richard Cuicchi
This is the third of 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.
Red Sox history is filled with examples of players and non-players that had relatives in baseball. Some of the more noteworthy ones include:
Ken Brett had just turned 19 years old when he made two appearances in the 1967 World Series with the Red Sox. He went on to pitch for the Red Sox in three more seasons as part of his 14-year career that ended in 1981. Ken’s brother, George, was a Hall of Fame third baseman for the Kansas City Royals that led the American League in hitting in three different decades. Ken had two other brothers, John and Robert, who played only one season in the minors.
Roger Clemens won 192 games and three Cy Young Awards in his 13-seasons with the Red Sox. Over his 24-year career, he won a total of 354 games and is currently 3rd all-time in strikeouts. Altogether he garnered seven Cy Young Awards during his career. Roger had three sons involved in baseball. Koby played in the minors for eight seasons in the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays organizations. His sons, Kacy and Kody, were drafted out of high school by the Astros, but both opted to attend the University of Texas where they are currently playing baseball.
Dom DiMaggio is part of one of the most famous trio of baseball brothers in history. His brother, Joe, a Hall of Famer player with the New York Yankees from 1936 to 1951, was a 13-time All-Star and winner of the American League MVP Award three times. Dom’s brother, Vince, was a two-time All-Star during his ten major-league seasons. Dom played for the Red Sox during 1940 – 1953, when he was selected to All-Star teams in seven seasons. All three brothers played in the outfield.
Dave Sisler pitched in four seasons for the Red Sox in the 1950s. He is the son of Hall of Fame player George Sisler Sr. who twice hit over .400 en route to a .340 career batting average. Dave’s brother, Dick, was a member of the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” that won the 1950 National League pennant. The first baseman logged eight seasons with the Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. A third Sisler brother, George Jr., played four minor-league seasons before becoming a general manager for several minor-league clubs and then president of the International League from 1966 to 1976.
Fast forwarding to more recent times, here are some highlights of baseball relatives in the Boston Red Sox organization during 2016.
Mookie Betts has emerged as one of the Red Sox’s brightest stars, finishing second in the American League MVP voting last year, only his second full season. He hit 31 HR and 113 RBI while posting a .318 batting average and 26 stolen bases. He is the nephew of Terry Shumpert, a 14-year veteran infielder who primarily played for the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies. Terry had a career .252 batting average. Mookie’s cousin is Nicholas Shumpert, the 28th round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2016. Nicholas played his first pro season at the rookie league level last season.
Xander Bogaerts is another young star that came up through the Red Sox farm system and ranks among the best shortstops in the game. In an all-star season last year, he had career-highs with 21 HR and 89 RBI while batting .294. His twin brother, Jair, played two seasons in the Dominican Summer League for the Red Sox organization in 2010 and 2011. There have been only eight sets of twins where both brothers played in the major leagues.
Craig Kimbrel came to the Red Sox last year after five seasons with the Atlanta Braves and one with the San Diego Padres. In four of his years with the Braves, he led the National League in saves. Overall, he has posted 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a WHIP of 0.949. Craig’s brother, Matt, was drafted by the Braves in 2012, and he spent three seasons at low levels in the Braves farm system
Drew Pomeranz joined the Red Sox staff in July last year after earning an all-star selection with the San Diego Padres during the first half of the season. He has pitched for six seasons that included stints with the Colorado Rockies and Oakland A’s. Drew’s brother, Stu, had a brief appearance in the majors with Baltimore in 2012. Their great-grandfather was Garland Buckeye, a major-league pitcher during 1918 – 1928, primarily with the Cleveland Indians. Buckeye compiled a 30-39 record. Their father, Mike, was a minor-league pitcher from 1988 to 1992, after being selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 13th round of the 1988 MLB Draft. Their uncle, Patrick, played one season in the Chicago White Sox organization in 1983.
Rick Porcello earned the American League Cy Young Award last year, in his second season with the Red Sox and eighth overall year in the majors. The 27-year-old posted a career best 22-4 record and 3.15 ERA. Rick’s grandfather was Sam Dente, a major-league infielder from 1948 to 1955. Dente posted a career .252 batting average for five teams. Rick’s brother, Jake, was a late-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2009, but did not sign.
Travis Shaw became the starting third baseman for the Red Sox in his second season with them. He hit 16 HR and 71 RBI to along with a .242 batting average. His father is Jeff Shaw, who spent 12 seasons in the big leagues as a relief pitcher and earned two all-star selections. Travis was traded by the Red Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers over the winter.
Other Red Sox major leaguers in 2016 that had relatives in pro baseball include: Deven Marrero, whose cousin Chris Marrero also plays in the Red Sox organization; Sean O’Sullivan whose brother Ryan O’Sullivan played in the independent leagues; Robbie Ross whose father Chuck Ross pitched in the Red Sox organization in the 1970s; Joe Kelly, son-in-law of former major leaguer Derek Parks; and Pablo Sandoval whose brother Michael played in the Twins and Giants organizations during 1999 – 2010.
The Red Sox pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives were former major-league players: Jake Cosart, Boston’s third-round pick in 2013, is the brother of current major leaguer Jarred Cosart and grandson of Ed Donnelly, who pitched briefly for the Chicago Cubs in 1963; Teddy Stankiewicz, a second round pick of the Red Sox in 2013, is the son of former major leaguer Andy Stankiewicz, while his brother Drew was in the Philadelphia Phillies organization last year; Yomar Valentin is the son of former major leaguer Jose Valentin and nephew of former major leaguer Javier Valentin; Tate Matheny, a fourth round pick of the Red Sox in 2015, is the son of current St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
The 2016 Red Sox had their share of baseball relatives in the dugout, too. Manager John Farrell is the father of three sons who have been in pro baseball. Luke Farrell is currently a pitcher in the Kansas City Royals organization. Jeremy Farrell is a minor-league coach in the Chicago Cubs organization, while Shane Farrell is a scout with the Cubs. John’s father, Thomas, was also a minor-league pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in the 1950s.
Bench coach Torey Lovullo is the father of Nick Lovullo who made his pro debut in the Red Sox organization in 2016. Torey was named the new manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter. First base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. is the son of Ruben Amaro Sr., former major league infielder who primarily appeared with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1960s. Ruben Jr.’s brother, David, played one minor-league season with the Cubs in 1984. Two of his nephews were drafted by the Phillies. Third base coach Brian Butterfield is the son of Jack Butterfield, who was an executive and scout with the New York Yankees. Assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez, Sr. is the father of Miguel and Victor who were both drafted by the Red Sox. Victor Jr. is currently a scout in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Victor Sr.’s brother, Ahmed, played four minor-league seasons in the Cardinals organization.
In the Red Sox front office, Frank Wren is the senior vice-president of baseball operations. His son, Kyle, played at the Triple-A level in the Milwaukee Brewers organization last year. His son, Jordan, was drafted by the Red Sox in the 36th round, but did not sign. Carl Yastrzemski, one of the all-time Red Sox great players, is currently a player development consultant with the team. His grandson, Mike, played outfield at the Triple-A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization last year. Carl’s son, Mike, was also a minor-league outfielder in the mid-1980s.
Lee May Jr. is a minor-league coach in the Red Sox organization. Like Yastrzemski, he is part of a three-generation baseball family. His father, Lee May Sr., was a three-time all-star first baseman during 18 major-league seasons, primarily with the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles. Lee Jr.’s son, Jacob, is currently an outfielder in the Chicago White Sox organization playing at the Triple-A level.
Baseball’s Relatives Website
The entire list of 2016 active major and minor league players and non-players can be retrieved at:
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.
There is a new book about Joe, Dom, and Vince DiMaggio, the best trio of Major League Baseball brothers in history. The book, The DiMaggio’s: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream, was authored by Tom Clavin.
Baseball America has a review of the book at the following URL: http://www.baseballamerica.com/majors/the-dimaggios-brings-trio-of-baseball-brothers-stories-together/
Dominic DiMaggio was a seven-time All-Star himself, but he often took a back-seat to brother Joe’s performance with the New York Yankees. Some historians believe Dom was a better centerfielder than the “Yankee Clipper.”
Below is a link to a story about the brother rivals from The New York Times: