Ranking the best father-son combos in MLB history

Contribute by Richard Cuicchi

Father’s Day is a good time to recall some of the all-time best Major League Baseball father-son duos.

There have been over 250 combinations of fathers and sons to play in the majors since Jack Doscher became the original second-generation player in the majors in 1903.  They represent about 2.5% of the 19,500+players to ever play in the big leagues.  Almost 30 of the sons were still active at the end of the 2018 season, and already six more made their debuts this season.

One would think sons of major leaguers have an advantage over other prospective professional players, because of their name.  That’s probably true.  A player with the last name of Biggio or Yastrzemski would likely attract a baseball scout’s attention more than a player with a last name like Smith or Jones. 

In fact, when many sons of major leaguers were growing up, they spent time with their dad in the clubhouse or during pre-game warmups and batting practice.  From that perspective, they have an advantage of being more comfortable in the major-league environment once they get there.  For example, during the heyday of the Cincinnati Reds “Big Red Machine” teams of the 1970s, sixteen Reds players had sons who went on to play professional baseball, including the sons of Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Ken Griffey, Lee May, and Hal McRae.  Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium was like a second home to their kids.

Furthermore, sons of major-league fathers probably had better access to advanced coaching when they showed potential in their developmental years in the sport.  They also had ready access to a father who could advise them how to handle the mental side of the game, such as how to deal with being in a hitting slump or recovering from an injury.

However, having the same last name as a major league father obviously doesn’t guarantee success for a son aspiring to a professional baseball career like his father.  Sons of major leaguers usually have more pressure to excel.  Some of the second-generation players have struggled as much against their family name as they did against the opposition.  For example, sons who didn’t measure up to their father’s Hall of Fame careers include Eddie Collins Jr., Tim Raines Jr., Ed Walsh Jr., George Sisler Jr., and Joe Wood Jr.

Former major leaguer Moises Alou, son of former major-league player and manager Felipe Alou, perhaps said it best, “If you can’t hit, field, and throw, it doesn’t matter who your father is.

So who were the best father-son duos in the majors?  Who were those sons that managed to become good enough to follow in their father’s footsteps and have a respectable career themselves? The Bonds and Griffey duos are the most recognizable, but the rest of the list may not be as obvious.

Below are the Top 10 duos ranked by their combined Wins Above Replacement (WAR).  Pairs were eliminated where one of the players didn’t have a substantial major league career. (For example, Pete Rose had a WAR of 79.7, but his son played in only 11 career major-league games and actually had a negative WAR.)  Fathers are listed first in the below combinations.

Bobby (57.9) and Barry (162.8) Bonds

Total WAR 220.7.  Barry has the fourth-highest WAR in baseball history, which makes their ranking practically uncontested by any other duo.  He was a seven-time MVP for the Pirates and Giants and was selected to 14 all-star games.  He has a slash line of .298/.444/.607 and holds the major-league record for most career HRs (762).  His father Bobby finished in the Top 4 for MVP voting twice and was a three-time all-star selection.  He was noted for his combination of power and speed, connecting for 331 (107th all-time) career home runs and swiping 461 bases (51th all-time).  Both players were outfielders.

Ken Sr. (34.5) and Ken Jr. (83.8) Griffey

Total WAR 118.3.  Ken Jr. fulfilled his potential as the overall Number 1 of the MLB draft in 1987, by hitting 630 HRs (7th all-time) and 1,836 RBIs (16th all-time) while posting a career slash line of .284/.370/.538.  A thirteen-time all-star selection for Seattle and Cincinnati, he was a near-unanimous selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.  Ken Sr. was a member of two World Series championship teams with the Reds.  He posted a career batting average of .297 and was selected as an all-star in three seasons.  The father-son duo, who were both outfielders, became the first to play in a major-league game as teammates in 1990.

Felipe (42.2) and Moises Alou (39.9)

Total 82.1.  Felipe was the best of three brothers that all played in the majors at the same time.  A three-time all-star selection, he led the league in hits twice and in runs scored once.  A career .286 hitter with 206 HRs and 852 RBIs, he played for the 1962 World Series champion San Francisco Giants.  Moises finished third in the MVP voting twice, when he played for Montreal and Houston.  He was a six-time all-star who had a .303 career batting average with 332 HRs and 1,287.  Moises was a key member of the 1997 Florida Marlins that won its first World Series.  He was one of only a few major-leaguers to have played for his father as manager, when they were with Montreal.

Gus (15.4) and Buddy Bell (66.3)

Buddy Bell (66.3) and David Bell (15.3)

Total WAR 81.7 and 81.6.  Buddy is actually part of three father-son duos, including one with his father Gus and two with sons David and Mike.  A career .281 hitter, Gus was a four-time all-star selection with the Cincinnati Reds as an outfielder.  David was an infielder for 12 seasons, appearing in the World Series with San Francisco in 2002.  Buddy was the best of the three generations as a five-time all-star and Gold Glove winner at third base in six consecutive seasons.  He batted .279 with 201 HRs and 1,106 RBIs.  There have been only four occurrences of three-generation families in major-league history.

Sandy Sr. (10.5) and Roberto (67.1) Alomar

Total WAR 77.6.  Roberto is a Hall of Fame second baseman who was selected to 12 consecutive all-star teams and won 10 Gold Glove awards.  He was a career .300 hitter with 200 HRs, 1,135 RBI, and 474 stolen bases.  He won two World Series rings with Toronto.  Sandy Sr. was an all-star selection for one of his 15 seasons.  The infielder hit only .245 with only 13 HRs during his career.  Sandy Sr. had another son, Sandy Jr., who played 20 seasons in the majors, but didn’t have near the productive career as his brother Roberto.

Tony Sr. (69.2) and Tony Jr. (5.2) Gwynn

Total WAR 74.4.  Tony Sr. was a Hall of Fame outfielder who won eight batting titles, while compiling a career .338 average and collecting 3,141 hits.  He was selected as an all-star in fifteen seasons, while capturing five Gold Glove awards and seven Silver Slugger awards.  He appeared in two World Series for San Diego.  Tony Jr. was an outfielder during eight major-league seasons after being drafted in the second round of the 2003 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers.  It turned out he couldn’t hit like his father, as his career batting average was 100 points less.

Jose Sr. (54.4) and Jose Jr. (19.5) Cruz

Total WAR 73.9.  Jose Sr. had a career slash line of .284/.354/.420 in his 20 major-league seasons (19 with Houston).  The outfielder was in the Top 8 for National League MVP voting on three occasions.  An all-star selection in two seasons, he had 1,077 RBI and 317 stolen bases.  Jose Jr. was the third overall selection of the 1995 MLB Draft by the Mariners and went on to play 12 major-league seasons.  Ironically, he was traded during his rookie season in which he was the runner-up for Rookie of the Year honors.  A Gold Glove winner as an outfielder with the Giants in 2003, he was a career .247 hitter with 204 career HRs.

Mel Sr. (43.1) and Todd (22.9) Stottlemyre

Total WAR 66.0.  Mel Sr. won 15 or more games for the Yankees during six seasons, while totaling 164 career wins.  A five-time all-star selection, he posted an impressive career 2.97 ERA.  He started three games for the Yankees in the 1964 World Series against St. Louis.  Todd pitched for 14 major-league seasons during which he posted double-digit wins in eight seasons and compiled 138 career wins.  He was a member of two World Series championship teams with Toronto.  Mel Sr. had another son, Mel Jr., who pitched in one major-league season.

Yogi (59.8) and Dale (5.5) Berra

Total WAR 65.3.  Yogi was one of the most accomplished catchers of all time.  The Hall of Famer was a member of 10 World Series championship teams with the Yankees.  He hit 358 HRs and 1,430 RBIs, while being selected to 15 all-star teams during his 19-year career.  He was voted the American League MVP in three seasons.  Dale was a first-round draft selection of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1975.  He was infielder for 11 major-league seasons, but fell well short of playing up to his father’s standards.  He hit a meager .239 with only 49 career home runs.

The next five father-son combos (also ranked by WAR) include George Sr. (56.3) and Dick (8.0) Sisler; Dizzy (49.6) and Steve (13.3) Trout; Maury (39.7) and Bump (16.5) Wills; Bob (27.4) and Bret (22.8) Boone; and Gary Sr. (30.4) and Gary Jr. (14.2) Matthews.

There are three sons of Hall of Famers currently playing in the majors:  Cavan Biggio (Craig), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Vladimir Sr.), and Dereck Rodriguez (Ivan).  They obviously have big shoes to fill, but may ultimately have the best chances to break into the all-time list of most prolific father-son duos.

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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/

 

Gary Matthews’ Family Still Promoting Baseball

Gary Matthews Sr.had an outstanding 16-year major league career from 1972 to 1987 with five different teams.  Nicknamed “Sarge,” he was Rookie of the Year with the San Francisco Giants in 1973 and was selected to an All-Star team with the Atlanta Braves in 1979.  In 1983, he was the NLCS MVP for the Philadelphia Phillies before they bowed out in the World Series against Baltimore.

Gary Matthews Jr. followed his father’s footsteps with his own 12-year big-league career from 1999 to 2010.  “Little Sarge” was an All-Star selection with the Texas Rangers in 2006.

Gary Sr.’s son Dustin was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 46th round of the 1998 MLB Draft, but did not sign to play professionally.

Delvon, the third son of Gary Sr. to play baseball, played one season in the Milwaukee Brewers organization in 2000.  He later worked in the Chicago White Sox organization front office under GM Kenny Williams.

Delvon is now working in the MLB’s Urban Youth Baseball program, overseeing operations in several cities across the nation and promoting diversity in the game.

Follow the link below from blavity.com about the Matthews family’s background and role in professional baseball:

http://blavity.com/black-baseball-matthews-family-business

 

 

Baseball Was A Family Affair For The Matthews

Gary Matthews Sr. is a 16-year veteran of the Major Leagues who averaged .281 over his career with five teams. He was an All-star with the Atlanta Braves in 1979. Nicknamed “Sarge”, he is currently on the Philadelphia Phillies broadcast team.
Gary Sr. has two sons in professional baseball. The Matthews brothers grew up around Major League ballparks and ended up in their father’s business.

Gary Jr. played twelve seasons in the Majors, garnering an All-Star selection in 2006, his best season in the big leagues. He played for seven different teams and posted at .257 career batting average.

Del was a pitcher in the minor leagues for eleven seasons, reaching the Triple-A level before calling it quits. He is now an assistant director of player development and scouting for the Chicago White Sox.

See below article about the Matthews family from whitesox.com>:
http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/news/article/cws/for-matthews-clan-baseball-a-family-affair?ymd=20131127&content_id=64234982&vkey=news_cws