Lee May Sr., Patriarch of Baseball Family, Dies at 74

Lee May, a three-time major-league all-star, passed away on July 29.  He played for 18 seasons during 1965 to 1982.  He was a member of the famous Cincinnati Reds “Big Red Machine” team in the early 1970s.  May was a career .267 hitter, with 354 home runs and 1,244 RBI.

May has a son, Lee May Jr., who played professional baseball from 1986 to 1993 after being selected in the first round of the 1986 MLB Draft by the New York Mets.  Lee Jr. is currently a coach in the Boston Red Sox farm system.

Lee Sr., is the grandfather of Jacob May, who made his major-league debut with the Chicago White Sox this year.  His brother, Carlos May, was a major-leaguer from 1968 to 1977.

For more information about Lee May Sr.’s career, follow the link below from the Philadelphia Tribune:

http://www.phillytrib.com/obituaries/lee-may-slugging-baseball-player/article_5bb148a1-c0e3-50e3-aebe-f83e137ab5cf.html

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Lee May Jr. Part of a Family Tradition

Lee May Jr. is currently the hitting coach for the Portland Sea Dogs in the Boston Red Sox organization.  His son, Jacob, made his major-league debut earlier this season with the Chicago White Sox.  His son, Lee III, is also following in his dad’s footsteps as a baseball player as a high school sophomore.

May Jr. and his sons get their baseball heritage from Lee May Sr., a veteran of 18 years in the major-leagues between 1965 and 1982.  May Sr. logged over 2,000 hits and 350 home runs during his career.

May Jr. got his early baseball experiences when he accompanied his father as a member of the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine” and roamed the Reds’ clubhouse along with the sons of Pete Rose, Tony Perez and Ken Griffey.

For more information about Lee May Jr.,  follow the link below from The Press Herald:

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/17/on-baseball-lee-may-jr-learned-work-ethic-from-his-dad-imparts-it-to-his-own-sons/

 

Third-Generation Ballplayer, Jacob May, Makes Major League Debut

Jacob May made his major-league debut with the Chicago White Sox on April 4 against the Detroit Tigers, getting one RBI in four at-bats.  He was a third-round pick of the White Sox out of Coastal Carolina University in the 2013 MLB Draft.

May is the son of Lee May Jr., currently a minor-league coach in the Boston Red Sox organization.  Lee Jr. played eight minor-seasons with the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals, reaching the Triple-A level but never appearing in a big league game.

Jacob is the grandson of Lee May Sr., a three-time all-star and veteran of 18 major-league seasons.  Lee Sr. slammed 344 HR and 1,244 RBI during his career.

Jacob’s great-uncle, Carlos May, also had a major-league career consisting of ten seasons (1968-1977), primarily playing for the Chicago White Sox.  He was a two-time all-star with the White Sox.

Read more about Jacob May by following the link below from the Chicago Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/whitesox/ct-new-faces-jacob-may-white-sox-spt-0402-20170331-story.html

Family Ties Flourishing in Baseball – Boston Red Sox

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

This is the third of 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.

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

Ken Brett had just turned 19 years old when he made two appearances in the 1967 World Series with the Red Sox.  He went on to pitch for the Red Sox in three more seasons as part of his 14-year career that ended in 1981.  Ken’s brother, George, was a Hall of Fame third baseman for the Kansas City Royals that led the American League in hitting in three different decades.  Ken had two other brothers, John and Robert, who played only one season in the minors.

Roger Clemens won 192 games and three Cy Young Awards in his 13-seasons with the Red Sox.  Over his 24-year career, he won a total of 354 games and is currently 3rd all-time in strikeouts.  Altogether he garnered seven Cy Young Awards during his career.  Roger had three sons involved in baseball.  Koby played in the minors for eight seasons in the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays organizations.  His sons, Kacy and Kody, were drafted out of high school by the Astros, but both opted to attend the University of Texas where they are currently playing baseball.

Dom DiMaggio is part of one of the most famous trio of baseball brothers in history.  His brother, Joe, a Hall of Famer player with the New York Yankees from 1936 to 1951, was a 13-time All-Star and winner of the American League MVP Award three times.  Dom’s brother, Vince, was a two-time All-Star during his ten major-league seasons.  Dom played for the Red Sox during 1940 – 1953, when he was selected to All-Star teams in seven seasons. All three brothers played in the outfield.

Dave Sisler pitched in four seasons for the Red Sox in the 1950s.  He is the son of Hall of Fame player George Sisler Sr. who twice hit over .400 en route to a .340 career batting average.  Dave’s brother, Dick, was a member of the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” that won the 1950 National League pennant.  The first baseman logged eight seasons with the Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.  A third Sisler brother, George Jr., played four minor-league seasons before becoming a general manager for several minor-league clubs and then president of the International League from 1966 to 1976.

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

Mookie Betts has emerged as one of the Red Sox’s brightest stars, finishing second in the American League MVP voting last year, only his second full season. He hit 31 HR and 113 RBI while posting a .318 batting average and 26 stolen bases.  He is the nephew of Terry Shumpert, a 14-year veteran infielder who primarily played for the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies.  Terry had a career .252 batting average.  Mookie’s cousin is Nicholas Shumpert, the 28th round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2016.  Nicholas played his first pro season at the rookie league level last season.

Xander Bogaerts is another young star that came up through the Red Sox farm system and ranks among the best shortstops in the game.  In an all-star season last year, he had career-highs with 21 HR and 89 RBI while batting .294.  His twin brother, Jair, played two seasons in the Dominican Summer League for the Red Sox organization in 2010 and 2011.  There have been only eight sets of twins where both brothers played in the major leagues.

Craig Kimbrel came to the Red Sox last year after five seasons with the Atlanta Braves and one with the San Diego Padres.  In four of his years with the Braves, he led the National League in saves.  Overall, he has posted 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a WHIP of 0.949.  Craig’s brother, Matt, was drafted by the Braves in 2012, and he spent three seasons at low levels in the Braves farm system

Drew Pomeranz joined the Red Sox staff in July last year after earning an all-star selection with the San Diego Padres during the first half of the season.  He has pitched for six seasons that included stints with the Colorado Rockies and Oakland A’s.  Drew’s brother, Stu, had a brief appearance in the majors with Baltimore in 2012. Their great-grandfather was Garland Buckeye, a major-league pitcher during 1918 – 1928, primarily with the Cleveland Indians.  Buckeye compiled a 30-39 record.  Their father, Mike, was a minor-league pitcher from 1988 to 1992, after being selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 13th round of the 1988 MLB Draft.  Their uncle, Patrick, played one season in the Chicago White Sox organization in 1983.

Rick Porcello earned the American League Cy Young Award last year, in his second season with the Red Sox and eighth overall year in the majors.  The 27-year-old posted a career best 22-4 record and 3.15 ERA.  Rick’s grandfather was Sam Dente, a major-league infielder from 1948 to 1955.  Dente posted a career .252 batting average for five teams.  Rick’s brother, Jake, was a late-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2009, but did not sign.

Travis Shaw became the starting third baseman for the Red Sox in his second season with them.  He hit 16 HR and 71 RBI to along with a .242 batting average.  His father is Jeff Shaw, who spent 12 seasons in the big leagues as a relief pitcher and earned two all-star selections.  Travis was traded by the Red Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers over the winter.

Other Red Sox major leaguers in 2016 that had relatives in pro baseball include: Deven Marrero, whose cousin Chris Marrero also plays in the Red Sox organization; Sean O’Sullivan whose brother Ryan O’Sullivan played in the independent leagues; Robbie Ross whose father Chuck Ross pitched in the Red Sox organization in the 1970s; Joe Kelly, son-in-law of former major leaguer Derek Parks; and Pablo Sandoval whose brother Michael played in the Twins and Giants organizations during 1999 – 2010.

The Red Sox pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives were former major-league players: Jake Cosart, Boston’s third-round pick in 2013, is the brother of current major leaguer Jarred Cosart and grandson of Ed Donnelly, who pitched briefly for the Chicago Cubs in 1963; Teddy Stankiewicz, a second round pick of the Red Sox in 2013, is the son of former major leaguer Andy Stankiewicz, while his brother Drew was in the Philadelphia Phillies organization last year; Yomar Valentin is the son of former major leaguer Jose Valentin and nephew of former major leaguer Javier Valentin; Tate Matheny, a fourth round pick of the Red Sox in 2015, is the son of current St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

The 2016 Red Sox had their share of baseball relatives in the dugout, too. Manager John Farrell is the father of three sons who have been in pro baseball.  Luke Farrell is currently a pitcher in the Kansas City Royals organization.  Jeremy Farrell is a minor-league coach in the Chicago Cubs organization, while Shane Farrell is a scout with the Cubs.  John’s father, Thomas, was also a minor-league pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in the 1950s.

Bench coach Torey Lovullo is the father of Nick Lovullo who made his pro debut in the Red Sox organization in 2016.  Torey was named the new manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter.  First base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. is the son of Ruben Amaro Sr., former major league infielder who primarily appeared with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1960s.  Ruben Jr.’s brother, David, played one minor-league season with the Cubs in 1984.  Two of his nephews were drafted by the Phillies.  Third base coach Brian Butterfield is the son of Jack Butterfield, who was an executive and scout with the New York Yankees.  Assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez, Sr. is the father of Miguel and Victor who were both drafted by the Red Sox.  Victor Jr. is currently a scout in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.  Victor Sr.’s brother, Ahmed, played four minor-league seasons in the Cardinals organization.

In the Red Sox front office, Frank Wren is the senior vice-president of baseball operations.  His son, Kyle, played at the Triple-A level in the Milwaukee Brewers organization last year.  His son, Jordan, was drafted by the Red Sox in the 36th round, but did not sign. Carl Yastrzemski, one of the all-time Red Sox great players, is currently a player development consultant with the team.  His grandson, Mike, played outfield at the Triple-A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization last year.  Carl’s son, Mike, was also a minor-league outfielder in the mid-1980s.

Lee May Jr. is a minor-league coach in the Red Sox organization.  Like Yastrzemski, he is part of a three-generation baseball family.  His father, Lee May Sr., was a three-time all-star first baseman during 18 major-league seasons, primarily with the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles.  Lee Jr.’s son, Jacob, is currently an outfielder in the Chicago White Sox organization playing at the Triple-A level.

 

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/

 

 

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)

Fathers Enjoying Their Son’s Success

Former New York Mets player, Lee Mazzilli, was labelled a “phenom” at age 18, being drafted directly out of a Brooklyn high school as a first-round pick in 1973. Three years later, he made his Major League debut with the Mets and made the National League All-Star team within four seasons. Fast forward forty years and Lee’s son, L. J., joined the professional ranks this season as the fourth-round pick of his father’s former team. The Mazzillis are just one example of many incidences of former Major League fathers seeing their sons follow in their footsteps, start to enjoy some success, and pursue making their own name in the sport.

The younger Mazzilli played his first professional season in his father’s home town of Brooklyn for the Mets’ Class-A affiliate. He is playing in ballparks where his father previously coached and managed at the minor league level before becoming manager of the Baltimore Orioles for two seasons. As his career progresses, L. J. will have the advantage of advice from a father who knows what it’s like to play in New York City, as well as having hung around the stadium environment while growing up.

Eric Young Jr. was headed to Villanova on a football scholarship when, after some heart-to-heart discussions with his father, he decided he would make baseball his career profession. Eric Sr. was an experienced advisor, since he was a 15-year veteran of the Major Leagues. Eric Jr. reached the big leagues himself in 2009 with the Colorado Rockies, but got a change in scenery this season, being picked up as a free agent by the New York Mets, where he broke into an everyday outfielder role.

Eric Jr. wound up leading the National League in stolen bases this season and is expected to be a part of the Mets’ rebuilding. His father, who also had a stint with the Rockies, was a similar type of player, excelling on the base paths, accumulating 465 stolen bases over his career. Now a baseball analyst for the Houston Astros’ broadcasts, Eric Sr. relishes the idea of being able to work in games in which his son plays.

After ten Major League seasons as journeyman middle reliever, 36-year-old Jason Grilli had a breakout year in 2013, as he was entrusted with the closer role for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He responded with a league-leading 29 saves and 1.99 ERA by the All-Star break, before suffering an injury that sidelined him for almost six weeks. Jason was a big component of the Pirates’ resurgence as a playoff team in 2013.

Jason’s father, Steve, had also been a Major League pitcher in the 1970’s, but appeared in only 70 games during his four-year career. Hence, he never achieved the success of his son, so he was indeed a proud papa when Jason pitched the final inning for the National League in the All-Star Game in New York this season.

Wanting to give his son Jacob every chance to succeed in professional ball, Lee May Jr. taught him to switch-hit while he was playing at the college level. It paid off, as Jacob was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the third-round of the June 2013 draft. Lee Jr. had also been a high draft pick in 1986, the 21st overall selection by the New York Mets, and he wound up playing in the minors from 1986-1993. Their bloodlines also include Jacob’s grandfather, Lee Sr., who was a three-time All-Star during his eighteen-year Major League career from 1965-1982. With Jacob’s switch-hitting plus his speed, he projects to be a player more like his father than his grandfather, a power hitter who slugged 354 career home runs in the big league.

Baseball runs deep in another May family. Derrick May Jr. is an outfielder drafted in 2012 by the St. Louis Cardinals, but he chose to attend college over signing. Both his father (Derrick Sr.) and grandfather (Dave) were former Major League players. If Derrick Jr. can reach also the big leagues, their family would be only the fifth three-generation combination in history.

Delino DeShields is an up and coming prospect in the Houston Astros organization. He was a first-round selection out of high school in the 2010 Major League Draft. As a kid, he got a taste of the Major League environment while accompanying his father in big league clubhouses. He got to hang around such stars as Ripken, McGwire, and Sosa, since they were teammates of his father, also named Delino, a thirteen-year veteran of the Major Leagues.

It turns out the younger Delino is a base-stealer in his father’s mold. Now the elder Delino is pulling for his son to gain some maturity on the field so that he can become an integral part of a revitalized Astros franchise.

Kevin Romine has reason to be doubly proud of his baseball family, since he has two sons, Andrew and Austin, who have reached the Major League level. He coached them from the time they played tee ball as children. Kevin had a seven-year big league career as a reserve player for the Boston Red Sox. So when he got calls from Austin, a second-year catcher with the Yankees this season, about helping him with his swing, Kevin was all too ready to provide objective advice. Andrew, who played at Arizona State University like his father, was a fourth-year big leaguer this season with the Angels.

During the 2013 season, George Frazier and his son Parker shared a common dream, more than the normal aspirations of your average father and son. They both had careers in the Colorado Rockies organization. George, a former Major League relief pitcher from 1978-1987, had been a member of the Rockies broadcast team for seventeen years. Parker, a pitcher like his father, came up through the Rockies organization reaching the Triple-A level.

Thus, George waited anxiously for the day when he could do play-by-play with his son on the field for the Rockies. However, their unique dream ended with Parker being traded to the Cincinnati Reds organization during the season. George will have to settle for calling a game with Parker on the opposing side of the Rockies, still destined to be a special moment.

In early April of the 2013 season, big league fathers of several Cleveland Indians were honored at Progressive Field with ceremonial first pitches before the game. Five current Indians, including manager Terry Francona, coach Sandy Alomar Jr., and players Nick Swisher, Michael Brantley, and Zach McAllister, caught tosses from their respective fathers who were wearing their son’s uniform.

Francona’s father, Tito, spent fifteen seasons in the majors from 1956 to 1970. Alomar’s father, Sandy Sr., was an infielder from 1964 to 1978 and then served a long-time big league coach. Swisher’s father, Steve, was a reserve catcher from 1974 to 1982. Brantley’s father, Mickey, was an outfielder for the Mariners from 1986 to 1989. McAllister’s father, Steve, was the only father of this group who did not appear in the majors. However, after a short minor league stint, Steve has been a Major League scout.

For these guys, it was like playing catch in the back yard again. It was probably hard to tell who was more proud—the fathers or the sons.

Naturally, every father wants to see his son have success in life. But it’s an especially proud feeling when the son achieves success in the same profession. Baseball fathers are no different.

These are just a few of the father-son combinations in professional baseball today. I was able to count over 150 such combinations where the son was active in 2013, either in the majors or the minors.

If this article has peeked your interest in baseball’s many family relationships, check out my book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives, which contains over 3,500 players, managers, coaches, scouts, owners, executives, umpires, and broadcasters who have a relative in professional baseball. The book can be purchased at http://thetenthinning.com/booksreviews.html.