Family Ties Flourishing in Baseball – Chicago Cubs

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

This is the fourth 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.

Cubs history is filled with examples of players and non-players that had relatives in baseball. Some of the more noteworthy ones include:

Lou Brock got his major league start with the Chicago Cubs before going on to a Hall of Fame career with the St. Louis Cardinals.  He is often the subject of the worst trade in Cubs history, when they acquired pitcher Ernie Broglio from the Cardinals.  Broglio would only win seven games for the Cubs in 2 ½ years.  Brock’s son, Lou Jr., was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 17th round in 1982, but did not sign.  Brock’s cousin, Dale, played in the Cardinals organization in 1976-77.

Dolph Camilli made his major-league debut with the Cubs in 1933, but the more significant portion of his career was spent with the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he was the National League MVP in 1941 and earned two-time all-star selections.  Dolph had four sons that played pro baseball, although Doug was the only one to make it to the majors, as a backup catcher for several teams during the 1960s.  Doug’s son, Kevin, played in the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers organizations from 1984 to 1988.

Jim Delahanty was one of five brothers to play in the majors, the most in baseball history.  He played for the Chicago Cubs in 1901 and went on to have a 13-year major-league career.  The best of the brothers was Ed, a Hall of Fame player primarily with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Frank, Joe, and Tom were the other brothers.  The Delahanty brothers never played together in the major leagues, but Joe, Jim and Tom were teammates in the minors for Allentown and once accounted for eleven hits and twenty total bases among them.  A sixth brother, Will, was a minor league player.

Don Kessinger was a six-time all-star shortstop in his twelve seasons with the Cubs from 1964 to 1975, playing with Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, and Billy Williams.  Don’s son, Keith, played eleven major-league games with Cincinnati in 1993, while son Kevin, played one minor-league season with the Cubs in 1992.  Don’s grandson, Grae, is currently a freshman infielder at his college alma mater, Ole Miss.

Lennie Merullo was on the 1945 Chicago Cubs team that played in the World Series, the last before the Cubs’ appearance in 2017.  However, he is best known for having made three errors in a 1942 game, on the day his son, Lennie Jr., was born, earning him the nickname “Boots.”  Lennie Jr. played minor-league baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization from 1962 to 1964.  Lennie Jr.’s son, Matt, was a backup catcher in big leagues from 1989 to 1995 and later managed in the minors.  Matt’s son, Nicholas, played one minor league season in the Baltimore Orioles farm system.

Fast forwarding to more recent times, here are some highlights of baseball relatives in the Chicago Cubs organization during 2016.

Kris Bryant has emerged as one the game’s top players in only two major league seasons.  He followed his National League Rookie of the Year Award season in 2015 with an MVP Award season last year and led the Cubs to their first World Series championship since 1908.  Last season, he led the league in runs scored and posted a slash line of .292/.385/.522.  Kris’ father, Mike, was an outfielder in the Red Sox organization in 1981-82.

Willson Contreras made his major league debut with the Cubs last season, sharing catching duties with veterans Miguel Montero and David Ross.  He responded with a .282 average, 12 HR and 35 RBI in 76 games.  He had ten hits, one HR and 5 RBI in the Cubs’ post-season games last year.  His brother, William, is an 18-year-old catcher in the Atlanta Braves organization.

Jason Heyward came to the Cubs for the 2016 season with an All-Star selection and three Gold Glove Awards to his credit.  His offensive production with the Cubs declined from his previous years.  However, he claimed his first World Series ring when the Cubs won their first championship since 19xx.  Jason’s brother, Jacob, was drafted in the 18th round of the 2016 draft by the San Francisco Giants and turned in a .330 batting average for the season.

Ryan Kalish was promoted to the Cubs for a week in May last year and then suffered a knee injury that put him out for the rest of the season.  Prior to 2016, he had two brief stints with the Boston Red Sox and then played in 57 games for the Cubs in 2014.  The Cubs granted Kalish free agency after last season.  Ryan’s brother, Jake, is currently a pitcher in the Kansas City Royals farm system.

Ben Zobrist has gained a reputation as one of the game’s best “super utility” players.  In his first season with the Cubs in 2017, he played both second base and outfield positions.  The veteran was key player in the Cubs’ victory in the World Series.  He was named the MVP of the Series for his ten hits, five runs and 2 RBI.  Ben’s brother-in-law is Jon Gilmore, who played in the minors for the Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox organizations.

The Cubs’ pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives were former major-league players:

John Andreoli was an outfielder for Triple-A Iowa in the Cubs farm system last year.  He is the cousin of Daniel Bard, a former major league pitcher for the Boston Red Sox during 2009 – 2013.  After sitting out the 2015 season due to injury, Bard attempted a return with the St. Louis Cardinals last year.  John’s cousin, Luke Bard, pitched in the Minnesota Twins organization last year.

Chad Hockin was the 6th-round draft selection of the Cubs last year and then pitched at the Class A level of the Cubs farm system.  His brother, Grant, was a 2nd-round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2014, but pitched in only one pro season.  Their grandfather was Harmon Killebrew, a Hall of Fame infielder and designated hitter from 1954 to 1975.  Killebrew hit 573 career home runs and claimed the American League MVP Award in 1969 while playing for the Minnesota Twins.

Daniel Lockhart completed his sixth season in the Cubs organization last year, after being drafted out of high school in the 10th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.  His father, Keith Lockhart, is currently a scout in the Cubs organization and played ten seasons for three major-league teams.  Keith appeared in six post-seasons with the Atlanta Braves.

Carson Sands was the 4th-round selection of the Cubs in the 2014 MLB Draft and completed his third pro season last year in 2016.  Carson’s brother, Cole, was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2015, but did not sign.

The 2016 Cubs had their share of baseball relatives off the field, too.

Tom Ricketts is the owner and chairman of the Chicago Cubs, having acquired the franchise in 2009.  Ricketts’ siblings, Laura, Pete, and Todd, also have ownership interests in the Cubs.  The Ricketts are not the first family to own the Cubs.  Three generations of the Wrigley family owned the franchise from 1925 to 1981.

Terry Kennedy is a scout in the Cubs’ player development organization.  He had been a four-time all-star catcher during his fourteen major league seasons, and he later managed, coached and instructed in the minor leagues for several teams.  His father, Bob Sr., spent over fifty years in baseball in various capacities, including as a player from 1939 to 1957 with seven different major league clubs and as a scout, manager, coach, and executive from 1958 to 1992.  One of Bob Sr.’s managerial stints was with the Cubs from 1963 to 1965.  Terry’s brother, Bob Jr., pitched in the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals farm systems from 1971 to 1975.

Dave Martinez became a coach for the Cubs when manager Joe Maddon was hired by the team in 2015.  They had previously worked together with the Tampa Bay Rays.  Dave also had a 16-year career as a major league player, compiling a .276 batting average.  Dave’s son, Dalton, was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 31st round of the 2013 MLB Draft, but did not sign.

Dan Kiermaier is in his second season as a Cubs groundskeeper at Wrigley Field.  Dan’s brother, Kevin, was in his fourth season as an outfielder in the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 2016.

Jason McLeod is currently the senior vice president of scouting and player development for the Cubs.  He has previously held scouting and executive positions for the Boston Red Sox and the San Diego Padres.  He is the great-grandnephew of Carl Hubbell, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the New York Giants from 1928 to 1943.  He is a distant relative of Jacob Hannemann, currently a minor-league outfielder in the Cubs farm system.

 

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/

 

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Base(Ball) in the Family – 2015 Player Relatives List

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

With the 2015 baseball season behind us, it’s time to provide my annual compilation of the players, managers and coaches from the season who had family relationships in professional baseball.  The count this year is 783; but while I scoured all the major league team media guides, many baseball websites, and countless new stories for updates, most assuredly there are still additional players I have yet to identify.

My interest in this aspect of baseball history began when collecting data for my book Family Ties:  A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives, published in 2012 containing data through the 2011 season.

Since then, I have continued compiling a comprehensive set of family ties information.  The latest 2015 Family Ties list can be found on the Site Pages of this blog.

Below is a sample of interesting facts from the 2015 list.

Minor leaguer Jonathan Roof has nine relatives in baseball.  He is the son of former major leaguer Gene Roof, who had four brothers that played professionally.  Jonathan also has two brothers and two cousins that played.  One of the cousins, Eddie Haas, spent over 50 seasons in baseball as a player, coach and manager.

A’s pitcher Drew Pomeranz’s great grandfather, Garland Buckeye, was a major leaguer from 1918 to 1928.

This year’s list includes several sons of former All-Star players (noted in parenthesis):  Ryan Ripken (Cal Jr.), Jordan Hershiser (Orel), Mariano Rivera III (Mariano), Justus Sheffield (Gary), Cam Gibson (Kirk), Tony Gwynn Jr. (Tony), and Patrick Palmeiro (Rafael).

Rays pitcher Brad Boxberger was a major league first round draft choice in 2009, as was his father Rod Boxberger in 1978.  2015 draftee Tyler Nevin and his father Phil (1992 draftee) were both first-round picks.

Pitcher Casey Coleman is part of a three-generation family of major league pitchers.  His father Joe pitched between 1965 and 1979, while his grandfather, also named Joe, pitched from 1942 to 1955.  Both of them were named to All-Star teams.

Veteran Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth’s father (Jeff Gowan) and stepfather (Dennis Werth) were both professional players.  Jayson’s grandfather, Dick Schofield Sr., also played in the majors.

Eddie Gaedel gained fame in baseball as being the only midget to appear in the major leagues.  In a stunt produced by St. Louis Browns’ maverick owner Bill Veeck, the 3’ 7” Gaedel drew a walk in his only plate appearance in 1951.  Eddie’s nephew, Kyle Gaedele who is 6’ 3”, currently plays in the Padres organization.

Joe Jackson of the Texas Rangers organization is the great nephew of legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was banned from Organized Baseball after the 1920 season for his involvement in the Black Sox Scandal.

Pitcher Randy Wolf’s brother, Jim, is a major league umpire.  There is an agreement between major league baseball teams and the umpire’s association that Jim will never call balls and strikes when brother Randy is on the mound.

Rangers’ designated hitter Prince Fielder and his father Cecil rank third all-time among father-son combo home run hitters, only behind Barry and Bobby Bonds and the Ken Griffeys.

The following current players have had better careers than their fathers (in parenthesis) who also played professionally:  Mike Trout (Jeff), Kris Bryant (Mike), Michael Brantley (Mickey), and Nick Swisher (Steve)

This version of the 2015 Family Ties List contains 711 major league and minor league players who have a relative in professional baseball.  There are also 72 major league managers and coaches.

These 783 players, managers and coaches have a total of 1,094 family relationships with players, managers, coaches, scouts, executives, and broadcasters from the major league teams and their affiliated minor league teams, independent leagues, and the Mexican League.  Obviously, several of the players, managers, and coaches have multiple family relationships.

Below are more details about the makeup of the players, managers, and coaches in the entire list.

PLAYERS

The 711 players in 2015 included 233 active major leaguers and 478 with only minor league experience.

233 players with major league experience had a total of 331 relatives in professional baseball

  • 25 had major league relatives active in 2015
  • 102 had major league relatives active before 2015

478 players with only minor league experience had a total of 619 relatives in professional baseball

  • 62 had major league relatives active in 2015
  • 221 had major league relatives active before 2015

MANAGERS/COACHES

The 72 major league managers and coaches had a total of 124 relatives in professional baseball

  • 8 had major league relatives in 2015.
  • 17 had major league relatives active before 2015.

The Milwaukee Brewers had two managers and five coaches that represented 22 family relationships in professional baseball.

2015 MLB DRAFT

74 amateur players drafted in 2015 had current or former relatives in professional baseball.

  • 55 were sons of pro players, while 25 were brothers
  • 46 of the draftees had relatives with major leaguers experience
  • 31 of the draftees did not sign pro contracts in 2015

2015 MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUTS

22 players with relatives in baseball made their major league debuts in 2014. 15 of their relatives had major league experience.

TEAMS

The average number of players (major and minor league), managers, and coaches with baseball relatives for the 30 major league organizations was 24.

  • The Royals and Red Sox were the organizations with the most relatives with 41 each. The Cubs (9) had the fewest.
  • The Orioles (13) had the most 2015 major leaguer roster players with a relative in professional baseball. The Angels, Dodgers and Red Sox each had 12 players.
  • The Rockies and Cubs both had the fewest with 3 players.

UNAFFILIATED BASEBALL

The 2015 independent baseball leagues had 47 players with relatives in professional baseball.

  • 11 of the players were former major leaguers with relatives.
  • 27 total relatives had major league experience.

The 2015 Mexican League had 16 players with relatives in professional baseball

  • 9 of the players were former major leaguers with relatives.
  • 9 total relatives had major league experience.

Mike Bryant Still Pitching to his Major League Son

Mike Bryant pitched to his son, Kris, in the MLB Home Run Derby event associated with the 2015 MLB All-Star Game in July.  It was not unusual, however, since Mike coached his son on various teams as Kris was growing up.  Kris is the rookie sensation for the Chicago Cubs this season and is in the running for Rookie of the Year honors.

Mike has professional baseball experience himself, having played in the Boston Red Sox organization in 1980-1981, after being selected in the 9th round in the 1980 MLB Draft.

Read more about Mike Bryant at the link below from heavy.com:

Mike Bryant, Kris’ Dad: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Cubs’ Phenom Bryant Shares Debut With his Father

Kris Bryant, the Chicago Cubs’ new rookie phenom, made his major league debut on April 17 at Wrigley Field.  The highly-rated prospect was able to share the emotional moment with his father, Mike, who was once a prospect with the Boston Red Sox, but did not get to the big leagues.

Read more about Kris Bryant at the link below from chicago.cbslocal.com:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/04/17/emma-father-son-bond-makes-kris-bryants-debut-special/