These Dads Were Ballplayers, Too

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

It’s one thing for a dad to have his son make it to the major-leagues, but it’s even more special when the dad was also a former major-leaguer. The number of big-league father-son combinations is pretty rare.  Less than 500, out of almost 19,000 major leaguers to have played since 1876, are a father or son.

When former major-leaguer Pete Rose was shopping around for a new team in the free agent marketplace, one of his considerations was that the team would allow his son to practically have everyday access to the team’s clubhouse. Many major-league sons like Pete Jr. have their interests in baseball as youngsters fueled by hanging out with their dads in the clubhouse or shagging fly balls during batting practice before their dads’ games.  Consequently, the sons have a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with big-league players and to begin learning the ropes of what it takes to be a successful professional ballplayer.

Ironically, the fathers probably didn’t get too many chances to see their sons develop their own skills while growing up on the playgrounds, since the dads were off playing in big-league cities across the country. For example, Pete Rose said he attended fewer than ten of his son’s games during his childhood.  When Ken Griffey Jr. was playing in his first pro season in an instructional league, it was the first time in five years his major-league father had seen him play.

In honor of Father’s Day, below is a group of major league dads from the past, whose sons are currently playing in the big-leagues. The dads are organized into a Fathers Fantasy Team.

1B — Andy Van Slyke, father of Scott Van Slyke (Los Angeles Dodgers).  Andy was a three-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner during 1983 to 1995.  Most of his career was spent with the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates as an outfielder, but he occasionally played first base as well.

2B – Delino DeShields, father of Delino DeShields Jr. (Texas Rangers).  The elder DeShields was the first-round draft selection of the Montreal Expos in 1987.  Three years later he was runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year honors.  He then went on to 13-year career in which he batted .268.

SS – Ivan de Jesus, father of Ivan de Jesus Jr. (Milwaukee Brewers).  Ivan Sr. was a slick-fielding shortstop for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.  He was the shortstop on the 1983 Phillies World Series team whose infield included Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt.

3B – Clay Bellinger, father of Cody Bellinger (Los Angeles Dodgers).  Clay appeared in the World Series in 2001 and 2002 with the New York Yankees, earning a championship ring in 2001.  Primarily a utility player, he played every position with the Yankees except pitcher and catcher in 2000.

OF — Kevin Romine, father of Andrew Romine (Detroit Tigers) and Austin Romine (New York Yankees).  Kevin was a 2nd-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1982 and played with them during 1985 to 1991.  He had one post-season appearance with the Red Sox in 1988.

OF – Eric Young, father of Eric Young Jr. (Los Angeles Angels).  Eric Sr. played fifteen seasons in the big-leagues with seven different teams as a second baseman and outfielder.  During his career he compiled a .283 batting average and 465 stolen bases, currently 48th on the all-time stolen base list.  He was an All-Star in 1996 with Colorado as a second baseman.

OF – Raul R. Mondesi, father of Raul A. Mondesi (Kansas City Royals).  The elder Mondesi was National League Rookie of the Year in 1994 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and wound up playing seven seasons with them, including two post-seasons appearances.  He played a total of 13 seasons in the majors, compiling 271 home runs.

C – Sal Butera, father of Drew Butera (Kansas City Royals).  Sal was a backup catcher for five different major-league clubs during 1980 to 1988.  He was a member of the 1987 World Series champion Minnesota Twins.

SP – Tom Gordon, father of Dee Gordon (Miami Marlins).  Nicknamed “Flash,” Tom first started his pro career as a starting pitcher, but later switched to the bullpen.  He was runner-up in the voting for the American League Rookie of the Year in 1989 while with the Kansas City Royals.  He won 97 games as a starter during his first 10 seasons.  He led the led the American League in saves in 1998 with the Boston Red Sox.  Altogether he recorded 158 career saves.  He was a three-time All-Star selection.

RP – Steve Bedrosian, father of Cam Bedrosian (Los Angeles Angels).  Steve compiled a 76-79 record and 184 saves over 14 seasons during 1981 to 1985.  He was the National League’s Cy Young Award winner in 1987 with the Philadelphia Phillies, a relatively uncommon feat for a relief pitcher.  He was a member of the 1991 World Series champion Minnesota Twins.

A few other current major-leaguers with fathers who also played at the major-league level include Steve Lombardozzi (Marlins), Lance McCullers Jr. (Astros), Jason Grilli (Blue Jays), and Travis Shaw (Brewers).

Trey Griffey Departs from Family’s Baseball Lineage

Trey Griffey is currently at the Indianapolis Colts’ mini-camp, trying to make the football team as a non-drafted wide receiver.  He played football at the University of Arizona where he had 79 catches for over 1,200 yards.

Griffey didn’t choose to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps in pro baseball, where they both had long major-league careers.  Ken Griffey Jr, was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, while Trey’s grandfather, Ken Griffey Sr., had an excellent major-league career that spanned 19 years and included two World Series championship teams.

Trey was actually selected in the 2016 MLB Draft in the 24th round by the Seattle Mariners, his father’s original big-league team, but it was a courtesy pick by the Mariners since Trey had not played baseball since his early teenage years.

To read more about Trey Griffey’s pursuit of a pro football career, follow the link below from foxsports.com:

http://www.foxsports.com/indiana/story/indianapolis-colts-rookies-looking-carry-family-legacies-051417

Trey Griffey Made His Own Way Through Football

Trey Griffey has some of the strongest pedigree in baseball of practically anyone before him, yet he decided not to pursue a career in baseball.

His father is Ken Griffey Jr., who was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2016 after a 22-year major-league career that included 630 home runs.  His grandfather, Ken Griffey Sr., spent 19 seasons in the big leagues that included two World Series championships with the Cincinnati Reds.  He earning All-Star honors in three seasons and posted a career .296 batting average.

Trey served as a batboy for Team USA in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, when his father played in the inaugural international tournament.

However, Trey decided football was his game, and after a highly successful high school career in Florida he went to the University of Arizona on a football scholarship. He played four seasons with the Wildcats as a wide receiver.

Just recently, he was selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game in Tampa, with a collection of outstanding of college football players.

For recent information about Trey Griffey’s football endeavors, follow the link below from the Tampa Bay Times:

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/bucs/wr-trey-griffey-follows-his-own-path-at-shrine-game/2310005

 

These Sons of Major Leaguers Chose Football

Major League Baseball has had over 200 father-son combinations who both played in the big-leagues.  But the sons of major-leaguers don’t always choose their father’s sport. Sometimes they don’t want the pressure of having to follow in their father’s baseball footsteps.  Sometimes they want to make a name for themselves by trying to excel another sport.

This year’s college football season features several prominent sons of former major leaguers.  Not surprising, they play in offensive skill positions on the gridiron. Below is a list of the more notable of these college players, their current teams, their father’s names and their father’s years in major-league baseball.

Shane Buechele, University of Texas QB, son of Steve Buechele (1985-1995)

Torii Hunter Jr., University of Notre Dame WR, son of Torii Hunter Sr. (1997-2015)

Trey Griffey, University of Arizona WR, son of Ken Griffey Jr. (1989-2010)

Pat Mahomes II, University of Texas Tech QB, son of Pat Mahomes Sr. (1992-2003)

Dante Pettis, University of Washington WR/KR, son of Gary Pettis (1982-1992)

Kenny Hill, Texas Christian University QB, son of Ken Hill (1988-2001)

Derek McLemore, University of Houston WR, son of Mark McLemore (1986-2004)

Brandon Johnson, University of Tennessee WR, son of Charles Johnson (1994 – 2005)

To read more about these football players, see the link below from bignewsnetwork.com:

http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/247723667/mlb-fathers-rooting-for-college-football-sonsetwork.com:

 

 

 

Rick Stowe and Ken Griffey Jr. Share a Common Connection

Rick Stowe is the home team clubhouse manager for the Cincinnati Reds.  He was working for the Red at the time Ken Griffey Jr. was playing for the Reds.

What they have in common is being second-generation members of the Reds organization.  Rick’s father, Bernie Stowe, was a long-time Reds equipment manager, while Griffey Jr.’s father also played with the Reds from 1973 to 1981.

To read more about the connection between Stowe and Griffey Jr, follow the link below from the Dayton Daily News:

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/sports/reds-clubhouse-manager-stowe-remembers-griffey-jr-/nr39k/

HOF Inductee Griffey One of the “Sons of the Big Red Machine”

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi, 07/24/2016 

In his Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech, Ken Griffey Jr. mentioned his father’s Cincinnati Reds teams of the 1970s, known as the “The Big Red Machine.” as some of the best in baseball history. Griffey acknowledged his father’s role in his development as a player and as a person.  It’s likely some of Junior’s fondest memories are hanging out in a major league clubhouse with his father.

In a related story about the prevalence of children of Reds players from those teams who went on to play professional baseball, following is a chapter excerpted from my book “Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives” published in 2012.

Sons of the “Big Red Machine”

The Cincinnati Reds teams of the early-to-mid-1970s are noted as one of the more famous teams in baseball history. The “Big Red Machine,” led by Sparky Anderson, was comprised of some of the game’s best individual players of that era: Rose, Bench, Morgan, Foster, Perez, Griffey, and Concepcion. They went to the World Series in 1970, 1972, 1975, and 1976, winning back-to-back world championships in 1975 and 1976.

Little did anyone know that these teams would produce a bevy of future professional baseball players. Sixteen players (fathers) on those teams had sons who would later play professional baseball at some level. Five of the sons were first-round draft picks by major league clubs: Brian McRae (1985), Lee May, Jr. (1988), Ken Griffey, Jr. (1987), Ed Sprague (1988), and Eduardo Perez (1991).

The sons were sometimes referred to as “Little Red Machine.” Tony Perez once commented, “They were wild. You had to keep after them. But they were good kids.” In any case, they learned the winning feeling hanging around the clubhouse of their famous fathers. This situation is a prime illustration of the sons of major leaguers excelling because of the environment in which they were raised.

Marty Brennaman (himself the progenitor of a baseball broadcasting family) was the Reds broadcaster during those years and some of his most endearing memories revolve around the players’ kids, who would congregate around the Reds’ clubhouse. They added to the excitement the Reds team was generating. “Little Pete was about as obnoxious a kid as you’d find,” Brennaman said. “But he grew up to be as fine a young man as I’ve ever known. They were all like that: loud and running around like water bugs. They were so brash it was incredible. But you’ve got to remember, they were all small then, not at an age where you would call them responsible. Riverfront Stadium was like their second home. That made it special. It was like a family in that clubhouse.”

Twenty-plus years later, several of these sons of the Big Red Machine made history in a spring training game. On March 27, 1997, in a game between Cincinnati and Texas, the Reds’ lineup included Pete Rose, Jr., who batted leadoff and played third base; Dave Concepcion, Jr., playing shortstop and batting second; and Eduardo Perez, son of Tony Perez, playing first base. In that same game, there were additional “family ties.” Aaron Boone, younger brother of Reds regular second baseman Bret, played second base; and Stephen Larkin, younger brother of Reds regular shortstop Barry, played in the DH position.

Below is a list of the father-son combinations from the “Big Red Machine” era.

Father Reds Years Son Son’s Playing Career
Pedro Borbon, Sr. 1970–1979 Pedro Borbon, Jr. Major league (1992–2003)
Tony Cloninger 1968–1971 Darrin Cloninger

Mike Cloninger

Minor league (1983–1985)

Minor league (1983–1985)

Dave Concepcion 1970–1988 Dave Concepcion, Jr. Minor league (1995–1996)
Ed Crosby 1973–1973 Bobby Crosby Major league (2003–2010)
Terry Crowley 1974–1975 Terry Crowley

Jimmy Crowley

Minor league (1986–1992)

Minor league (1991–1995)

Cesar Geronimo 1972–1980 Cesar Geronimo, Jr. Minor league (1995–1998)
Ken Griffey, Sr. 1973–1981 Ken Griffey, Jr.

Craig Griffey

Major league (1989–2010)

Minor league (1991–1997)

Tommy Helms 1964–1971 Ryan Helms

Tommy Helms

Wes Helms (nephew)

Minor league (1994–1995)

Minor league (1990–1992)

Major league (1998–2010)

Julian Javier 1972–1972 Stan Javier Major league (1984–2001)
Andy Kosco 1973–1974 Andrew Kosco

Bryn Kosco

Minor league (1986–1990)

Minor league (1988–1996)

Lee May 1965–1971 Lee May, Jr. New York Mets first round draft pick (1988).
Hal McRae 1968–1972 Brian McRae Major league (1990–1999)
Tony Perez 1964–1976 Eduardo Perez

Victor Perez

Major league (1993–2006)

Minor league (1990)

Pete Rose 1963–1978 Pete Rose, Jr. Major league (1997)
Ed Sprague 1971–1973 Ed Sprague Major league (1991–2001)
Woody Woodward 1968–1971 Matt Woodward Minor league (1998–1999)

It was truly a “family affair” in the Reds organization during those years. Additionally, the following Reds players, scouts, and executives were part of the heyday of the “Big Red Machine,” and they also had relatives in professional baseball.

Reds Affiliate Reds Years Relationship Relative Relative’s Career
Bob Bailey Player (1976) Son of Paul “Buck” Bailey Minor Leagueplayer (1939–1940)
Larry Barton, Sr. Reds scout (1970–1979) Father of Larry Barton, Jr. Reds scout (1970–1979)
Jack Billingham Player (1972–1977) Cousin of Christy Mathewson

Henry Mathewson

Major League player (1900–1916)

Major League player (1906–1907)

Joe Bowen Reds director of scouting Brother of Rex Bowen Pirates director of scouting; Reds special assistant
Marty Brennaman Reds broadcaster (1974–2011) Father of Thom Brennaman Major League broadcaster for Reds, Cubs, Diamondbacks, FOX network
Dan Driessen Player (1973–1984) Uncle of Gerald Perry Major League player (1983–1995)
Doug Flynn Player (1975–1977) Son of Robert Douglas Flynn, Sr. Minor League player
Phil Gagliano Player (1973–1974) Brother of Ralph Gagliano Major League player (1965–1965)
Ross Grimsley, Jr. Player (1971–1973) Son of Ross Grimsley, Sr. Major League player (1951)
Junior Kennedy Player (1974–1981) Brother of Jim Kennedy Major League player (1970)
Bob Howsam Reds GM (1966–1977) Father of Edwin Howsam Reds area scouting supervisor
Lee May Player (1965–1971) Brother of Carlos May Major League player (1968–1977)
Bill Plummer Player (1970–1977) Son of William Plummer Minor League player (1921–1927)

It’s a Family Affair for Griffey’s and Piazza’s Hall of Fame Weekend

Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza will be the latest additions to the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend.  This was the first year Griffey was eligible for induction, while Piazza attained the pinnacle of his career in his fourth year. Both players were among the best of their respective positions during their careers.  Both have family ties in baseball.

Griffey is the son of Ken Griffey Sr., a major leaguer for 19 seasons and the owner of a .296 career batting average.  Griffey Sr. was a three-time all-star who played for the “Big Red Machine” years of the Cincinnati Reds.

Piazza is the godson of former Los Angeles Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, also a Hall of Famer.  Lasorda and Piazza’s father had been long-time friends, and Lasorda opened the door for  Mike to be drafted by the Dodgers.

Below are several recent articles about Griffey and Piazza:

http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/mariners/ken-griffey-sr-on-sons-hall-of-fame-induction-hopefully-i-dont-break-down/

http://www.newyorkupstate.com/sports/2016/07/baseball_hall_of_fame_class_of_2016_meet_the_inductees.html