Harmon Killebrew. Carl Yastrzemski. Bob Feller. Bill Mazeroski. They were among some of the greatest stars of yesteryear. Although they hung up their cleats several decades ago, they are still impacting the game of baseball today. But that lasting impact has been through their descendants, who have followed in the footsteps of their fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers, and are currently active within the same sport.
The game is filled with abundant examples of family ties. In 2016, there were over 700 players in the majors and minors who have a relative in baseball. Furthermore, there were over 800 managers, coaches, scouts, executives, and front office personnel who had a relative in baseball. As expected, many of them currently playing are brothers or sons of current or recent baseball players, managers or coaches. But one might be surprised to know how many are also players whose grandfathers, great uncles, or great-grandfathers donned the uniform and spikes many years before them.
For these families, baseball has been a profession, not unlike families with multiple generations of doctors, lawyers, farmers, or military servicemen. Moreover, the roles of the relatives extend beyond the playing field to include jobs like broadcasters, umpires, groundskeepers, clubhouse personnel, and front office positions.
Baseball became a lifelong profession for many players who were able to translate their skills and experience on the field to post-playing careers as managers, coaches, scouts, and player development executives. Hence, it was only natural they would encourage their sons and grandsons to follow in their footsteps in some aspect of the sport, even if not as a player. Now we are seeing examples of daughters of baseball professionals pursuing careers in the sport.
There are many examples of fathers who got their chance to player minor league baseball following high school or college, but were never quite good enough to land a spot on a major league roster. So they wound up fulfilling their own dream by encouraging their sons at an early age to pursue a professional career.
Then there are cases where a father or grandfather had a substantial major league career and their son or grandson was drafted by a major league organization, usually in a late round as a courtesy pick, because the son or grandson didn’t actually project to have the skills of a potential major leaguer. The draftee usually doesn’t wound up pursuing a pro career.
An over-arching factor for many of these family relationships in baseball is the strong loyalty or preference within the baseball community to hire and promote family members. Again, similar to families of lawyers and doctors, the baseball pedigree of a father, uncle, or grandfather is often a consideration by hiring organizations, because they know the family’s history and background.
Scanning the current list of active players, as well as people in non-playing roles within the game (such as managers, coaches, scouts, and front-office personnel), shows some interesting baseball backgrounds.
The great-great nephew of legendary player “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, from the infamous Chicago “Black Sox” scandal team which threw the 1919 World Series, is currently a prospect in the Texas Rangers organization. His name is also Joe Jackson, and he was a fifth-round draft selection of the Rangers in 2013.
Related to another famous event in baseball history, Kyle Gaedele played in an independent league in 2016, after having spent four seasons in the San Diego Padres organization. Kyle is the great-nephew of Eddie Gaedel, the legendary midget who appeared in a game for the St. Louis Browns in 1951 as a stunt by then-owner Bill Veeck.
Garland Buckeye pitched in the majors for five seasons during 1918 to 1928. He is the great-grandfather of current Boston Red Sox pitcher Drew Pomeranz, as well as Drew’s brother, Stu, who appeared in three major league games in 2012. The brothers attained big league status even though their father, Michael, and uncle, Patrick, weren’t successful in landing a spot on a major league roster after having brief careers in the minor in the 1980s.
Charlie Culberson, who currently plays in the infield for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is the grandson of Leon Culberson, who largely got his opportunity to play in the majors for the Boston Red Sox during World War II when Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio were in the military service. In the 1946 World Series with the Red Sox, Culberson was involved as the outfielder in the play in which the Cardinals’ Enos Slaughter made his dramatic “mad dash” from first base to score on a hit that won Game 7 of the Series. The elder Culberson also had a brother who played pro baseball in 1947.
Mickey Moniak was the first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016. His grandfather, Bill Moniak, played briefly in the Boston Red Sox minor league organization, where he received batting tips from the great hitter Ted Williams.
Bill Freehan and Al Kaline were all-star teammates in the 1960s and 1970s with the Detroit Tigers. Their grandsons also pursued major league careers with the Tigers organization after attending college. Freehan’s grandson, Blaise Salter, is a current minor leaguer, while Kaline’s grandson, Colin Kaline, was a former prospect.
There have only been a handful of families in major league history with three generations (grandfather, son, and grandson) of major league players, including the Bells, Boones, Hairstons and Colemans. However, there have been numerous families over the years that have come close to achieving this distinction.
For example, Ryan Ripken is currently playing in the minors with the Washington Nationals organization. He is the son of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and grandson of Cal Ripken Sr., who managed Baltimore Orioles teams in the 1980s that included his sons Cal Jr. and Billy. As a side note, Ryan’s teammates with minor league club in Hagerstown included Mariano Rivera III and Cody Dent, sons of former majors Mariano Rivera and Bucky Dent, respectively. Ryan’s brother, Patrick, is currently playing for North Carolina State University.
Joey Fregosi Jr. was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2016, and he is the son of Jim Fregosi Jr., currently a special assistant with the Houston Astros. Joey’s grandfather, Jim Fregosi Sr., was a six-time all-star as a major league player and a manager for fifteen seasons with the Angels, Phillies, White Sox, and Blue Jays.
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell is part of a three-generation baseball family. His father, Thomas Farrell, pitched briefly in the minors for the Cleveland Indians in the mid-‘50s. John, himself, pitched in eight seasons in the majors before pursuing a career in coaching and managing. John’s three sons carried on the baseball heritage for the Farrell family. Luke pitched at the Triple-A level in 2016 for the Kansas City Royals organization, while Jeremy currently serves as a minor league coach in the Chicago Cubs organization. A third son, Shane, was a late-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, but never played professionally. Instead, he has continued his baseball career as a scout in the Cubs organization.
Multi-generation baseball families are filled with examples that extend beyond the playing field.
The MacPhail family could easily make a claim for being the “first family” of baseball, but not because of their play on the diamond. Instead, they have supplied baseball with executives for four generations. Andy MacPhail, current president of the Philadelphia Phillies, is a third-generation family member. He now has two sons, Drew and Reed, who are working their way through professional baseball in staff positions. Andy’s father was Lee MacPhail Jr., the former president of the American League and executive in the Yankees and Orioles organizations. Andy’s grandfather was Larry MacPhail, who was a part-owner and executive of the New York Yankees and a general manager with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds organizations. Andy’s brothers, Bill and Lee III also held front-office positions in pro baseball. His nephew, Lee IV, currently works in the front office for the Seattle Mariners. Larry and Lee Jr. are the only father-son combinations in Baseball’s Hall of Fame who did not play the game.
Jack Dunn IV also comes from a long line of players, owners, and executives who had involvement with the Baltimore Orioles for over one hundred years. He is currently a limited partner in the ownership group of the Orioles. His great grandfather, Jack Dunn Sr., played in the major leagues from 1897 to 1904 and then wound up owning and managing the Baltimore Orioles when it was one of the premier minor league franchises in the early 1900s. His grandfather, Jack Dunn Jr., briefly played for the Orioles teams during 1914 to 1919. His father, Jack III, was the long-time traveling secretary for the Orioles after it had become a major league franchise.
Roger Bossard is a third-generation groundskeeper with the Chicago White Sox. His father and grandfather also held the same position with the Chicago White Sox. Roger’s son, Brandon, may break the chain of groundskeepers, however, by becoming a major league player. He was drafted by the White Sox in 2016. The Cucuzza family, including Lou Sr. and his two sons, have managed New York Yankee clubhouses and equipment rooms since the 1980s.
Chip Caray is a third-generation broadcaster, following his father Skip, with the Braves, and grandfather Harry who had a long career with the Cardinals, White Sox and Cubs. Chip’s half-brother, Josh, is currently a broadcaster for a Tampa Bay Rays minor league team.
Although no longer active, the Runge family (Ed, Paul, and Brian) provided three generations of major league umpires. In 2016, brothers Bill and Tim Welke were active umpires, while Brian Gorman and Hunter Wendelstadt are second-generation umpires. Umpire Jim Wolf is the brother of former major league player Randy Wolf, and John Hirschbeck’s brother, Mark, was a major league umpire until recently.
In the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, Trey Griffey was drafted in the 24th round by the Seattle Mariners, although he had not played baseball since he was a youth. Trey is the son of Ken Griffey Jr., a Baseball Hall of Fame inductee in 2016, and is the grandson of Ken Griffey Sr., a veteran of nineteen seasons in the majors. Trey’s draft selection was actually a special tribute to Griffey Jr, who wore uniform number 24 while playing for the Mariners, since Trey currently plays college football at the University of Arizona.
After over 140 years of professional baseball, women still have not substantially penetrated the sport. However, one significant event involving women occurred in 2016, when Amanda Hopkins was hired as a professional scout by the Seattle Mariners organization. Her interests in baseball stemmed from her father Ron, who has been a scout and executive for several major league organizations and is currently a special assistant for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Amanda’s brother, Ross, was a 40th round selection of the Cincinnati Reds in 2007, but didn’t sign a professional contract.
Lauren Holland is a front-office executive with the Atlanta Braves. Her father, John, is the clubhouse manager for the Braves.
A few other women have helped break the gender barrier in baseball through their marriage to men who come from baseball families. One current example is Katie Haas, a front-office executive for the Boston Red Sox. Her husband, Danny Haas, is a special assistant for the Baltimore Orioles after having been a player and coach. Danny is one of several members of the Haas family which has been involved in baseball since the 1950s.
Professional baseball has more family relationships than any sport in the United States. This season demonstrated that this trend is definitely continuing.
Contributed by Richard Cuicchi, June 17, 2016
On Father’s Day last year, I compiled a list of major-league all-stars who were fathers of major-league players. The mythical team represented a good look back in history at some dads who were among the best players in the game. There were some pretty good names on the list—Berra, Griffey, Bonds, Raines, and Rose.
To honor baseball dads this year, I’m taking a different twist on the same subject.
The all-star team I’ve compiled this time is indeed comprised of fathers who starred in the big-leagues. However, their sons, who are currently following in their dad’s baseball footsteps, are prospects still grinding their way through college and the minors.
Not that long ago, most of these sons were hanging out with their dads in major league clubhouses or shagging balls in the outfield during dad’s batting practices before games. Those early childhood experiences likely fueled their aspirations to ultimately join the ranks of “major leaguers” like their fathers.
On this Father’s Day, the tables will be turned, since these all-star dads will be pulling for their sons to pitch and hit well enough, so as to improve their chances of one day getting to the “Big Show” themselves.
Starting Pitcher – Roger Clemens won 354 career games and is 3rd on the all-time leader list in career strikeouts. He won the Cy Young Award a record seven times. Twice he struck out 20 batters in a game. He would already be in the Baseball Hall of Fame if it were not for his suspected involvement with PEDs. Three of Clemens’ sons have followed in his footsteps. (Note that all the sons’ names begin with “K” – the symbol for “strikeout.”) Kacy and Kody played for the University of Texas this year, after having been drafted by major league teams out of high school. Koby has played in the minors for the Astros and Blue Jays organizations and later in independent league baseball.
Relief Pitcher – Mariano Rivera is the all-time saves leader in baseball with 652. He pitched in seven World Series for the Yankees and recorded an astonishing 0.70 ERA and 42 saves during his post-season career that included 96 games. He is a lock to be voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Mariano’s son, Mariano III, is a relief pitcher like his father. He was the 4th round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2015 and is currently pitching at the Class-A level.
Catcher – Mike Matheny played thirteen major league seasons for the Brewers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Giants. While he never played at an all-star level during his career, Matheny developed a keen sense for the game that has allowed him to become one of the top young managers in major league baseball today. Matheny’s son, Tate, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2015, and the outfielder currently plays at the Class-A level. Mike has two other sons with futures in pro baseball. Jake has committed to play for Indiana University, while Luke has committed to Oklahoma State University.
First-Base – Rafael Palmeiro is one of only five players in history to get 3,000 hits and slam 500 home runs in his career. However, his fabulous career has been stained by failing a drug test during his last season. Consequently, he won’t likely get elected to what would have otherwise been a sure spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, his sons have put on the spikes to follow in dad’s footsteps. Patrick played in the Chicago White Sox organization for three seasons and is currently playing in the independent leagues. Last year, his 50-year-old father came out of retirement for one game to play with Patrick in a league game. Rafael’s other son, Preston, was drafted this year out of North Carolina State University by the Baltimore Orioles in the 7th round.
Second Base – Craig Biggio could have landed a spot on this imaginary all-star team at three different positions. He has the distinction of being a regular starter for the Houston Astros at three different positions during his career: catcher, second base, and centerfield. He attained all-star status as a catcher and second baseman. He compiled over 3,000 hits, 660 doubles, and 1,800 runs scored during a Hall of Fame career. Biggio coached his two sons in high school, and both went on to play baseball at the University of Notre Dame. Cavan was drafted this year by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 5th round. Conor was selected by his dad’s team, the Astros, in the 34th round of the 2015 draft.
Third Base – Dante Bichette was a four-time National League all-star for the Colorado Rockies and was runner-up in the MVP voting in 1995. He compiled a .299 batting average, 274 home runs, and 1,142 RBI during his 14-year career. Bichette, coached his son, Dante Jr., in the Little League World Series competition in 2005, and Dante Jr. is now playing in his sixth season in the New York Yankees organization. Bichette’s other son, Bo, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2nd round of this year’s draft.
Shortstop – Cal Ripken Jr. is the Hall of Fame shortstop best known for his consecutive game streak of 2,632 for the Baltimore Orioles. He was a 19-time all-star and two-time American League MVP. His physical size of 6’ 4” and 200 lbs. re-defined the shortstop position in the major leagues during the 1980s. Ripken comes from a baseball family, as his father was a long-time coach and manager of the Orioles, while his brother Billy played in twelve major league seasons as an infielder. Cal’s son, Ryan, was drafted in 2012 and then again in 2014, and is now playing at the Single-A level in the Washington Nationals organization.
Outfield – Vladimir Guerrero was often noted as wild-swinging hitter, but he managed to hit 449 home runs, drive in 1,496 runs, and hit for a .318 average during his sixteen-year career. He was the American League MVP in 2004 and was an all-star selection nine times. His performance should earn him a spot in Cooperstown. Guerrero’s 17-year-old son from the Dominican Republic, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., was one of the top international free agents last year and was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays for $3.9 million. However, he has yet to play in the minor leagues in the U. S. Guerrero Sr. had a brother who also played in the major leagues, and his nephew, Gabby Guerrero, is currently a top prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Outfield – Carl Yastrzemski is one of the all-time great Boston Red Sox players. He’s in the Hall of Fame based on his career numbers of 452 home runs, 1,844 RBI, and .285 batting average. He was an all-star in three different decades, the Triple Crown winner in 1967, and MVP of the American League in 1967. He’s on my list of all-star dads, but in fact he is the grandfather of Mike Yastrzemski, currently playing at the Triple-A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Mike is a third-generation professional player, as his father, also named Mike, played five seasons of minor league baseball.
Outfield – Magglio Ordonez was a six-time all-star in the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers organizations. During his 15-year career, he managed to hit for a .309 average, slugged 294 home runs and 1,236 RBI. In 2007, he finished second in MVP voting in the American League. Ordonez’ 20-year-old son, Magglio Jr., played for Detroit’s rookie league team last season.
Manager – John Farrell is currently in his fourth year as manager of the Boston Red Sox, having claimed a World Series championship in 2013. A former major league pitcher, Farrell has three sons involved in professional baseball. Luke is currently pitching in the Kansas City Royals organization at the Triple-A level. Jeremy was drafted in 2008 and played in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization last season. Shane was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, but chose a career as a pro scout, currently working in the Chicago Cubs organization. The three Farrell sons represent a third generation of ballplayers, as their grandfather, Tom, played briefly in the minors in the mid-1950s.
2013 World Series winning manager John Farrell is among many families where a son has followed his father in the game of baseball. However, in John’s case, he has three sons who are pursuing professional careers in baseball. Jeremy is playing in the Chicago White Sox organization. Luke is playing in the Kansas City organization, and Shane is working in the Chicago Cubs’ front office.
The Farrell sons have a good role model to follow, as John has demonstrated high level of work ethic and professionalism throughout his career.
See related story from dailyprogress.com about the Farrells:
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell’ father, Thomas, played in the Cleveland Indians organization during 1953-1955, after a bright amateur career as a pitcher. However, he never made it past the low-levels of the minor leagues.
Thomas, who was later a fisherman and business agent for a local union in New Jersey, taught his son some valuable life lessons.
The Farrells are a three-generation baseball family, as John’s three sons have been involved in professional baseball as well.
See the story about John Farrell and his family in the link below to masslive.com:
Red Sox manager John Farrell and two of his players, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Ryan Kalish, are expecting relatives to be taken in the 2013 MLB Draft. Farrell’s son Luke is a pitcher at Northwestern and may be taken in the fifth or sixth round. Farrell has two other sons, who were also selected in previous drafts. Bradley has a first cousin, Tyler Simpson Jr., a junior at North Carolina Central University who is a draft prospect. Kalish’s brother Jake is a pitcher at George Mason University, although he underwent Tommy John surgery this year.
For more details of these three prospects, see attached article on masslive.com.