Trio of Franco Brothers Playing for Rare Place in History

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

Picture this: on the baseball highlights show one evening, the sports anchor mentions that Wander Franco hit a game-winning home run for his team.  Well, which Wander Franco was it?

Initially that may sound like a foolish question, but it turns out to be a legitimate one, since there’s actually a trio of current professional baseball brothers with the same first and last name, Wander Franco. The Dominican Republic-born brothers are still in their early careers, but if they ever get to the big leagues at the same time, they would likely cause a fair amount of confusion for baseball followers who will be challenged to keep them differentiated.

The pick of the litter of the ball-playing Franco brothers is the youngest, Wander Samuel, who at age 17 is already projected to be the next teen phenom in the majors. He was the Number 1 overall international pick of 2017 by the Tampa Bay Rays and proved in his debut season in 2018 that the Rays were correct in their assessment of his potential.  The switch-hitting shortstop recorded a slash line of .351/.418/.587 at the rookie-league level, while posting 11 HR and 57 RBI in 61 games.  He was named Player of the Year in the Appalachian League.  The Rays’ investment of $3.85 million to sign Franco looks like it may turn out to be a sound one.

22-year-old Wander Alexander played in the San Francisco Giants organization last season at the Single-A level. He is also a switch-hitter that plays both corner infield positions.  His numbers weren’t too shabby either, as his slash line consisted of .314/.351/.519.  He was originally signed by the Houston Astros as a teenager and spent four seasons in the low minors before being dealt to the Giants.

Wander Javier is the “old man” of the bunch at 23 years old. The third baseman also currently plays in the Giants organization, after starting his career with the Kansas City Royals.  Playing at the Single-A level in 2018, he showed a tendency to strike out a lot, but also knocked in 65 runs while posting a .271 average.  He was named Offensive Player of the Year for his team.

Reportedly the brothers’ father (yes, his first name is also Wander) had a brief stint in the Chicago White Sox minor league system, although that isn’t substantiated in Baseball-Reference.com. In any case, he taught them the fundamentals of the game, and they were also influenced by uncles Erick and Willy Aybar, both of whom had major-league careers.

If the three Franco brothers wind up in the majors at the same time, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Altogether there have been only 20 sets of brothers in baseball history that were comprised of three or more major-leaguers. Perhaps the most famous trio of brothers were the DiMaggios (Joe, Vince, and Dominic), who played at the same time in the late 1940s.  Each of them attained all-star status during their respective careers.

There were the Boyer brothers (Cloyd, Ken, and Clete) in 1955, and the Cruz brothers (Jose, Tommy, and Hector) played in the 1970s. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Delahanty, Mansell, and O’Neill brothers were among the first families with three or more siblings to play in the majors at the same time.

More recently, the Molina brothers (Bengie, Jose, and Yadier) played simultaneously during the 2004-2010 timeframe. Among the three brothers, all of whom were catchers, they have played a total of 43 seasons, with Yadier still active.  Each of them has at least one World Series ring.

However, the rarest occurrence of three brothers playing at the same time happened when the Alou brothers (Felipe, Jesus, and Matty) actually appeared in the same game on September 10, 1963, for the San Francisco Giants. In that game, they made all three outs in the 8th inning, with Matty and Jesus making pinch-hitting appearances.  On September 15, the three Alous manned all three outfield positions late in the game.

But there have been countless sets of multiple brothers who didn’t make it.

So it’s still a bit early to predict whether all three Franco brothers will reach The Show, since they have yet to prove themselves beyond the low minors. Based on history though, the odds are against them; but don’t count them out just yet.

 

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Bengie Molina’s Memoir About Father in New Book “Molina”

Bengie Molina, one of three brothers who played in the major leagues, recently wrote a book entitled “Molina: The Story of a Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty.”  Bengie attributes the brothers’ pursuit of pro baseball to their father, Benjamin, while being raised in Puerto Rico.

Bengie, Yadier, and Jose Molina were all catchers in the big leagues, and each has won two World Series.

Read more about Bengie Molina and the book at the link below from the Orange County Register:

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/molina-662922-baseball-says.html

Bengie Molina Writes Book About His Baseball Family

Bengie Molina, former major league catcher for thirteen seasons, and brother of current St. Louis Cardinal Yadier Molina and another former major leaguer, Jose Molina, recently wrote a book about his baseball-playing family.  But most of the focus of the book is on his father, rather than the three brothers.

Father Benjamin taught his sons to play baseball, while they were growing up in Puerto Rico.  Although Bengie Sr. was reportedly a good ballplayer himself, he had never had the opportunity to play professionally.  Instead, he turned his three sons into top-notch catchers, each of whom has won two World Series.

Read more about the book Molina at the link below from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/books-and-literature/reviews/gold-gloves-bengie-molina-writes-about-a-baseball-loving-family/article_041462cb-9c49-5346-bc25-12c54db401ca.html

Molina Brothers Are “First Family” Of Catchers

Bengie, Jose, and Yadier Molina have each reached the pinnacle of Major League Baseball–winning World Series championships. Each of them is a catcher, so you’d have to vote for them as baseball’s “first family” of catchers.

Their father Benjamin Sr. did not play professional baseball, but he was instrumental in developing each of his sons to reach the big leagues. In fact, he had a huge impact in his native Puerto Rico in amateur baseball and was acknowledged for his efforts by being inducted into the Puerto Rican Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bengie is now a coach for the Texas Rangers, while Jose plays for the Tampa Bay Rays and Yadier is an All-Star catcher with the St. Louis Cardinals.

See the story about the Molina brothers at the link below from tampabay.com:
http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/molinas-are-baseballs-first-family-of-catchers/2183608

Cardinals Backstop Part of the “Catching Molina Brothers” Act

Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals is one of the most the well-respected catchers in all of baseball. He is the anchor of the Redbirds, the guy who is in charge on the field. He is one of three brothers who has played at the major league level. Jose is currently a catcher with the Tampa Bay Rays and Bengie is a coach with the Texas Rangers, having also played for several major league teams. Each of the brothers has a World Series ring.

See related article about Yadier Molina at the link below from The New York Times: