The Search for Baseball’s Relatives Continues

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

Some of you already know one of my special interests in baseball research is identifying all the professional baseball players, managers, coaches, scouts, executives, broadcasters, owners, front office personnel, umpires, and clubhouse staff who have a relative that was also in some capacity in pro baseball. I just completed my annual compilation and have posted the results on my Baseball Relatives website https://baseballrelatives.wordpress.com/family-ties-2017-season/.

The process involved in the compilation activity requires arduous and time-consuming research. But I believe it results in one of the most comprehensive databases of baseball relatives information that I’m aware of.  My sources of information are primarily based on the major league team media guides, Major League Baseball websites, selected baseball magazines, and searches of the internet for current articles in newspapers and posts on blogs and websites.

My entire database now has over 7,400 individuals (all years) representing over 12,000 relationships. That’s more than double the number I had initially identified in my Family Ties book through the 2011 season.  The increase stems from the six additional seasons since the book was published, as well as the inclusion of additional minor league players and major league non-players I have discovered since then.

Some of the more noteworthy relatives from the 2017 season include the following:

  • Jake Boone was drafted out of high school in the 38th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals. If he were to eventually make it to the majors, he would become part of the first four-generation family of major leaguers. His family tree includes great-grandfather Ray Boone, grandfather Bob Boone, and father Bret Boone. His uncle, Aaron Boone, was also a major-leaguer.
  • Trei Cruz was drafted out of high school in the 35th round of the draft by the Houston Astros, the team his grandfather (Jose) and father (Jose Jr.) previously played for. Two of his grandfather’s brothers, Hector and Tommy, also played in the majors.
  • Several Hall of Famers have relatives coming up through the ranks. Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson, Mike Yastrzemski, is playing at the Triple-A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Harmon Killebrew’s grandsons, Chad and Grant Hockin, are both pitchers in the low minors. Cal Ripken Jr.’s son, Ryan, is a first baseman now playing in the Orioles organization where his father starred. Tom Glavine’s son, Peyton, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels, but will attend college instead of signing a pro contract.
  • During the recent World Series between the Astros and Dodgers, two sons of former major leaguers were on center stage. Dodgers first baseman, Cody Bellinger, is the son of Clay Bellinger, who played on two World Series teams with the New York Yankees. Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. is the son of Lance McCullers Sr., who pitched for seven seasons in the majors.
  • This season’s Toronto Blue Jays minor league team Dunedin in the Class A Florida State League featured the sons of three former major-league stars. Third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s father was a 16-year major leaguer, American League MVP in 2004. Shortstop Bo Bichette’s father, Dante Bichette, was a four-time all-star with the Colorado Rockies. Second baseman Cavan Biggio is the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. Additionally, Dunedin outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s father was a star player and manager in Cuban professional leagues, while his brother currently plays for the Houston Astros.
  • Kacy Clemens, the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, made his professional debut in the Toronto Blue Jays organization this year. He is Clemens’ third son to be drafted by a major-league team. Koby played in the minors and independent leagues for ten seasons. Kody was drafted by the Astros out of high school in 2015 and currently plays at the University of Texas. Note the first names of Clemens’ sons all begin with “K”, the significance being his second-place ranking on the list of all-time strikeout leaders.
  • Luke Farrell, the son of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell, made his major-league debut as a pitcher with the Kansas City Royals. John later took a day off from the Red Sox during the season in order to watch his son pitch in a big-league game.
  • Satchel McElroy, an outfielder in the Cincinnati Reds organization, is the son of former major-league pitcher Chuck McElroy. He is named after Hall of Famer Satchel Paige, who was a Negro League teammate of his grandfather Sylvester Cooper. Satchel’s brother C. J. is an outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The brothers are the nephews of Cecil Cooper, former major-league player and manager.
  • Patrick Valaika is in his second big-league season with the Colorado Rockies. He has three brothers (Matt, Chris, and Nick) who also played professionally, with Chris having also played in the majors from 2010 to 2014.
  • Stephen Drew, who played for the Washington Nationals in 2017, and brothers J.D. and Tim were all former first-round draft picks in the MLB Draft—Stephen (2004), J.D. (1997 and 1998), and Tim (1997).
  • Zach Garrett was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2017 and made his pro debut with Aberdeen in the Orioles minor league system. His baseball lineage includes grandfather Jasper Spears, who was an infielder in the Dodgers organization from 1949 to 1959. However, Zach’s more notable family members include NASCAR race drivers who happen to be grandfather Dale Jarrett and father Ned Jarrett.
  • 94-year-old Red Schoendienst still works for the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a special assistant. His major-league career has included time as a player, coach, manager and front office consultant with the Cardinals, starting in 1945. Schoendienst has five brothers who played professionally in the 1940s. His son, Kevin, was also a minor-leaguer for two seasons in the Cubs organization.

I’m always on the hunt for new entries in my Family Ties database. Of course, the newer, up-and-coming players aren’t as hard to find because so much information is now available on the internet.  Finding the older players is more challenging, but every once in a while I’ll discover a new instance, for example, when doing research in old newspapers and magazines for my SABR book projects.  For me, it’s sort of like finding that rare silver dime in a huge pile of coins.

 

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Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Aims to Follow His Brother to the Majors

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is the younger brother of Houston Astros first baseman Yuliesky (Yuli) Gurriel, who helped the Astros capture their first-ever World Series ring.

He continues the baseball tradition set by brother and his father, Lourdes Sr., who was a prominent player and coach in Cuban professional baseball.

Lourdes Jr. signed a major-league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in November 2016 in a deal worth $22M over seven years.  The 23-year-old split his first professional season with Class A Dunedin and Class AA New Hampshire in the Blue Jays system.

To read more about Lourdes Gurriel Jr. follow the link below from The Sporting News:

http://www.tsn.ca/gurriel-jr-rode-highs-lows-of-brother-s-world-series-chase-1.904896

 

Yuli Gurriel’s Baseball Lineage has Cuban Roots

Houston Astros first baseman Yuliesky Gurriel is a 33-year-old rookie this year.  The reason for his late start in the major leagues is that he defected from Cuba in early 2016, along with his brother Lourdes Jr.

Before coming to the United States, Yuli had a 15-year career in Cuba, where he played professionally and helped the national team win gold medals in the 2004 Olympics and the World Cup in 2003 and 2005.

He is the son of Lourdes Gurriel Sr., who was a long-time player and coach in Cuba.  Yuli’s brother signed a professional contract with the Toronto Blue Jays last November and played in their farm system this season.

To read more about Yuli Gurriel’s career, follow the links below:

http://m.startribune.com/astros-gurriel-goes-from-cuban-star-to-world-series-hopeful/451787383/?section=sports

http://www.torontosun.com/2017/10/17/gurriel-brothers-keeping-in-touch-during-mlb-playoffs

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Aims to Join Brother in Major League Baseball

When you say the Gurriel name in Cuba, people automatically recall legendary Lourdes Gurriel Sr., who starred for 15 years for the Cuban National Team and went on to manage the storied Havana Industriales team.

Highly sought after for his international play for Cuba, Lourdes Sr.’s son, 32-year-old Yulieski, signed a $47.5 million contract with the Houston Astros and made his major-league debut with the them toward the end of last season and figures to be in the starting lineup in 2017.

Yuliesky and his younger brother Lourdes Jr.  defected from Cuba during the Caribbean World Series in February 2016 in order to pursue pro baseball careers in the United States.

Now, the 23-year-old  Lourdes  Jr. is attempting to make a name for himself in the United States, having signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays this off-season.

Gurriel Jr. may not be as talented as his brother, but is projected to be an above-average major leaguer.

Read more about Lourdes Jr. at the link below from the Mop-Up Duty website:

https://mopupduty.com/profiling-lourdes-gurriel-jr-022717/