Contributed by Richard Cuicchi, June 17, 2016
On Father’s Day last year, I compiled a list of major-league all-stars who were fathers of major-league players. The mythical team represented a good look back in history at some dads who were among the best players in the game. There were some pretty good names on the list—Berra, Griffey, Bonds, Raines, and Rose.
To honor baseball dads this year, I’m taking a different twist on the same subject.
The all-star team I’ve compiled this time is indeed comprised of fathers who starred in the big-leagues. However, their sons, who are currently following in their dad’s baseball footsteps, are prospects still grinding their way through college and the minors.
Not that long ago, most of these sons were hanging out with their dads in major league clubhouses or shagging balls in the outfield during dad’s batting practices before games. Those early childhood experiences likely fueled their aspirations to ultimately join the ranks of “major leaguers” like their fathers.
On this Father’s Day, the tables will be turned, since these all-star dads will be pulling for their sons to pitch and hit well enough, so as to improve their chances of one day getting to the “Big Show” themselves.
Starting Pitcher – Roger Clemens won 354 career games and is 3rd on the all-time leader list in career strikeouts. He won the Cy Young Award a record seven times. Twice he struck out 20 batters in a game. He would already be in the Baseball Hall of Fame if it were not for his suspected involvement with PEDs. Three of Clemens’ sons have followed in his footsteps. (Note that all the sons’ names begin with “K” – the symbol for “strikeout.”) Kacy and Kody played for the University of Texas this year, after having been drafted by major league teams out of high school. Koby has played in the minors for the Astros and Blue Jays organizations and later in independent league baseball.
Relief Pitcher – Mariano Rivera is the all-time saves leader in baseball with 652. He pitched in seven World Series for the Yankees and recorded an astonishing 0.70 ERA and 42 saves during his post-season career that included 96 games. He is a lock to be voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Mariano’s son, Mariano III, is a relief pitcher like his father. He was the 4th round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2015 and is currently pitching at the Class-A level.
Catcher – Mike Matheny played thirteen major league seasons for the Brewers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Giants. While he never played at an all-star level during his career, Matheny developed a keen sense for the game that has allowed him to become one of the top young managers in major league baseball today. Matheny’s son, Tate, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2015, and the outfielder currently plays at the Class-A level. Mike has two other sons with futures in pro baseball. Jake has committed to play for Indiana University, while Luke has committed to Oklahoma State University.
First-Base – Rafael Palmeiro is one of only five players in history to get 3,000 hits and slam 500 home runs in his career. However, his fabulous career has been stained by failing a drug test during his last season. Consequently, he won’t likely get elected to what would have otherwise been a sure spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, his sons have put on the spikes to follow in dad’s footsteps. Patrick played in the Chicago White Sox organization for three seasons and is currently playing in the independent leagues. Last year, his 50-year-old father came out of retirement for one game to play with Patrick in a league game. Rafael’s other son, Preston, was drafted this year out of North Carolina State University by the Baltimore Orioles in the 7th round.
Second Base – Craig Biggio could have landed a spot on this imaginary all-star team at three different positions. He has the distinction of being a regular starter for the Houston Astros at three different positions during his career: catcher, second base, and centerfield. He attained all-star status as a catcher and second baseman. He compiled over 3,000 hits, 660 doubles, and 1,800 runs scored during a Hall of Fame career. Biggio coached his two sons in high school, and both went on to play baseball at the University of Notre Dame. Cavan was drafted this year by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 5th round. Conor was selected by his dad’s team, the Astros, in the 34th round of the 2015 draft.
Third Base – Dante Bichette was a four-time National League all-star for the Colorado Rockies and was runner-up in the MVP voting in 1995. He compiled a .299 batting average, 274 home runs, and 1,142 RBI during his 14-year career. Bichette, coached his son, Dante Jr., in the Little League World Series competition in 2005, and Dante Jr. is now playing in his sixth season in the New York Yankees organization. Bichette’s other son, Bo, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2nd round of this year’s draft.
Shortstop – Cal Ripken Jr. is the Hall of Fame shortstop best known for his consecutive game streak of 2,632 for the Baltimore Orioles. He was a 19-time all-star and two-time American League MVP. His physical size of 6’ 4” and 200 lbs. re-defined the shortstop position in the major leagues during the 1980s. Ripken comes from a baseball family, as his father was a long-time coach and manager of the Orioles, while his brother Billy played in twelve major league seasons as an infielder. Cal’s son, Ryan, was drafted in 2012 and then again in 2014, and is now playing at the Single-A level in the Washington Nationals organization.
Outfield – Vladimir Guerrero was often noted as wild-swinging hitter, but he managed to hit 449 home runs, drive in 1,496 runs, and hit for a .318 average during his sixteen-year career. He was the American League MVP in 2004 and was an all-star selection nine times. His performance should earn him a spot in Cooperstown. Guerrero’s 17-year-old son from the Dominican Republic, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., was one of the top international free agents last year and was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays for $3.9 million. However, he has yet to play in the minor leagues in the U. S. Guerrero Sr. had a brother who also played in the major leagues, and his nephew, Gabby Guerrero, is currently a top prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Outfield – Carl Yastrzemski is one of the all-time great Boston Red Sox players. He’s in the Hall of Fame based on his career numbers of 452 home runs, 1,844 RBI, and .285 batting average. He was an all-star in three different decades, the Triple Crown winner in 1967, and MVP of the American League in 1967. He’s on my list of all-star dads, but in fact he is the grandfather of Mike Yastrzemski, currently playing at the Triple-A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Mike is a third-generation professional player, as his father, also named Mike, played five seasons of minor league baseball.
Outfield – Magglio Ordonez was a six-time all-star in the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers organizations. During his 15-year career, he managed to hit for a .309 average, slugged 294 home runs and 1,236 RBI. In 2007, he finished second in MVP voting in the American League. Ordonez’ 20-year-old son, Magglio Jr., played for Detroit’s rookie league team last season.
Manager – John Farrell is currently in his fourth year as manager of the Boston Red Sox, having claimed a World Series championship in 2013. A former major league pitcher, Farrell has three sons involved in professional baseball. Luke is currently pitching in the Kansas City Royals organization at the Triple-A level. Jeremy was drafted in 2008 and played in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization last season. Shane was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, but chose a career as a pro scout, currently working in the Chicago Cubs organization. The three Farrell sons represent a third generation of ballplayers, as their grandfather, Tom, played briefly in the minors in the mid-1950s.