Taylor and Tyler Rogers: rare set of MLB twins

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

There have been over 19,600 major-league ballplayers in the history of the game. Only twenty of them have the distinction of being a member of a set of twins. When Tyler Rogers made his major-league debut on August 27 in a relief appearance for the San Francisco Giants, he joined his brother Taylor as the tenth set of twins to play in the big leagues. Taylor had previously reached the majors in 2016 with the Minnesota Twins and has been a strength in their bullpen since then. Taylor picked up his 21st save on the same night as Tyler’s debut.

The rare twins are among a total of 395 sets of brothers to wear major-league uniforms. The Rogers pair are the first set to play in the majors since Damon and Ryan Minor in 2000.

After playing together for Chatwood High School in Lincoln, Colorado, the Rogers brothers took separate paths in their professional careers. Tyler went on to play for Austin Peay University while Taylor played for the University of Kentucky, although he had been selected out of high school By Baltimore in the 37th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Taylor signed with the Twins after being drafted again in 2012 in the 11th round. Tyler was selected and signed by the Giants in the next year’s draft.

Although the Rogers twins are identical, Taylor is a southpaw who averages over ten strikeouts per nine innings, while Tyler is a right-handed submarine-style pitcher relying more on pitching to contact to get batters out.

Here’s a quick rundown of the other major-league twins.

The first pair of twins to play in the majors were Bill and George Hunter between 1909 and 1912. They were followed by Joe and Red Shannon, who played as 18-year-olds on the same team in Joe’s only major league season in 1915.

Ray and Roy Grimes made their major-league debuts in 1920, the only season Roy would play. A third Grimes brother, Kenneth, played in three minor-league seasons, while Ray’s son, Oscar, would also play in the majors from 1939 to 1946.

Claude and Bubber Jonnard appeared in the majors in the early 1920s. It would be another 30 years before the next set of twins would reach the majors, when 22-year-old Eddie and Johnny O’Brien formed the double-play combination for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1953.

Mike and Marshall Edwards had brief careers during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They also had a younger brother, Dave, who also played five major-league seasons.

Stan and Stew Cliburn both played for the California Angels during the 1980s, but not at the same time. After their playing days, the pair held managerial and coaching positions together for several minor-league teams in the Minnesota Twins organization.

Jose Canseco is the most noteworthy of all the major-league twins. He was American League Rookie of the Year in 1986, the AL MVP in 1988, and a six-time all-star who amassed 462 career home runs. His lesser-known brother, Ozzie, played only 24 major-league games spread over three seasons, never hitting a home run.

Ryan Minor is most remembered for having taken Cal Ripken’s spot in the lineup when Ripken ended his streak in 1998 for most consecutive games played. Minor played four seasons with Baltimore and Montreal, while his twin Damon played four seasons with San Francisco.

Possibly following the Rogers brothers with distinction as the next major-league twins are brothers Luis Alejandro Basabe (Diamondbacks organization) and Luis Alexander Basabe (White Sox organization). The native-born Venezuelans are active this year, working their way through the minors.

Boston’s current all-star shortstop Xander Bogaerts is a twin whose brother, Jair, played in the minors at 17 and 18-years-old, but never made it out the Dominican rookie leagues.

Over the years, there have been numerous former major-leaguers with twin brothers that also couldn’t get past the minors, including Vern Law (1950-1967), Russ Nixon (1957-1968), Brian Doyle (1978-1981), Tony Fernandez (1983-2001), and Mike Mimbs (1995-1997).

Twin brothers have never pitched against each other in the majors. Maybe one day soon we’ll see the Rogers twins taking their turns on the hill for opposing teams.

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Family Ties Flourishing in Baseball: Cleveland Indians

Compiled by Richard Cuicchi

This is the eighth 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.

The Cleveland Indians were filled with examples of players and non-players that had relatives in baseball. Some of the more noteworthy ones include:

Buddy Bell was a five-time all-star and six-time Gold Glove Award winner as a third baseman during his 18 major-league seasons, including seven with the Indians.  Buddy also managed three major league teams and is currently an executive with the Chicago White Sox.  Bell is part of one of only a handful of three-generation players in the history of major-league baseball.  His son, David, is the current bench coach of the Cardinals.  During David’s major-league playing career that spanned from 1995 to 2006 with six different major-league clubs, he was a career .257 hitter. Buddy’s father, Gus, was a four-time all-star during his nine seasons with the Cincinnati Reds.  Overall, Gus played 15 seasons, ending in 1964.  Buddy’s son, Mike, played briefly with the Cincinnati Reds in 2000 and now currently works in the front office of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Ray Boone was a major league infielder from 1948 to 1960, including all-star seasons in 1954 and 1956.  The infielder played for the Indians from 1948 to 1953.  His family is also a three-generation major-league baseball family.  His son, Bob, is a senior advisor to the Washington Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo.  Bob was a major-league catcher for nineteen years (1972-1990), including four all-star and seven Gold Glove Award seasons.  Bob also managed in the majors for six seasons, splitting his time between the Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds.  Two of Ray’s grandsons, Bret and Aaron, had lengthy major league careers as infielders, both of whom had all-star seasons, while another son, Matt, played seven seasons in the minors.

Larry Doby Sr. was the first African-American player in the American League, making his major-league debut for the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947, barely three months after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the major leagues.  The outfielder went on to have a Hall of Fame career that included seven all-star selections and the runner-up spot in the 1954 American League MVP voting.  His son, Larry Jr., played three minor-league seasons in Class A.

Oscar Grimes played nine years in the majors, including his first five with the Cleveland Indians.  The infielder was a career .256 hitter between 1938 and 1946.  His father, Ray, was a career .329 hitter during his six major-league seasons from 1920 to 1926.  His uncle, Roy, played only 26 games in his only major-league season with the New York Giants in 1920.  Ray and Roy were one of only eight sets of twins to ever play in the major leagues.

Jim Hegan played fourteen of his seventeen major-league seasons with the Cleveland Indians, earning five all-star selections.  The catcher played in the World Series with the Indians in 1948 and 1954.  He later became a coach for the New York Yankees.  His son, Mike, signed after one year in college at Holy Cross with the Yankees and made his major-league debut with them in 1964, while his father was still coaching.  Mike went on to play twelve major-league seasons, including an all-star selection with the expansion Seattle Pilots in 1969, their only year of existence.  Mike later became a broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers and Cleveland Indians.

Orestes “Minnie” Minoso began his major-league career with the Cleveland Indians in 1949.  However, it was with the Chicago White Sox that he made most of his impact.  The speedy outfielder was runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 1951 and was selected an American League all-star in seven seasons.  He returned to the Indians in 1958 and 1959.  In four different seasons, he finished fourth in the voting for league’s MVP.  Altogether, he posted a .298 career batting average, collecting over 1,950 hits.  His son, Orestes Jr., played in five minor-league seasons with the Kansas City Royals and White Sox organizations.  His grandson, Sam Macias, played in the rookie league for the White Sox farm system in 2013 and 2014.

Ray Narleski pitched for five seasons with the Cleveland Indians, both as a starter and reliever, during 1954 to 1958.  He posted a career record of 43-33, with 28 saves and a 3.60 ERA.  He is part of a three-generation baseball family.  His father, William E. “Bill”, played two seasons for the Boston Red Sox in 1929 and 1930, while his son, Steve, pitched in the Indians’ farm system from 1976 to 1983.  Ray’s two brothers, Bill Jr. and Theodore, and his uncle, William L., had minor-league careers.

Russ Nixon was a catcher for twelve major-league seasons, including four with the Cleveland Indians during 1957 and 1960.  He managed the Cincinnati Reds from 1982 to 1983 and the Atlanta Braves from 1988 to 1990.  His twin brother, Roy, was a first baseman in the Indians farm system from 1953 to 1957.

Fast-forwarding to more recent times, below are some highlights of baseball relatives in the Indians organization during 2016.

Michael Brantley was in his eighth year with the Indians last year, when his season was cut short by injury.  The outfielder’s best year was in 2014 when he finished 3rd in the voting for MVP.  He is the son of Mickey Brantley, an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners from 1986 to 1989.

Yan Gomes was in his fourth season with the Indians, when he also was injured after 74 games.  He was the Silver Slugger Award winner as a catcher in 2014.  His brother, Juan, played briefly in the Indians and Miami Marlins organizations last year.  Yan is the brother-in-law of Atlee Hammaker, a former major-league pitcher for twelve seasons, including an all-star year in 1983 when led the National League with a 2.25 ERA.

Jeff Manship was in his second season with the Indians last year as a middle relief pitcher.  He made his major-league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2009 after being drafted out of Notre Dame in 2006.  Jeff’s brother, Matt, played one minor-league season in the Oakland A’s organization in 2006.

Zach McAllister was in his second season as a converted relief pitcher last year, posting a 3.44 ERA.  He began his major-league career with the Indians in 2011, after being a 3rd-round selection of the New York Yankees in 2006.  Zach’s father, Steve, was a scout in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization last year, after having previously served in the same capacity for the Milwaukee Brewers, California Angels, and Boston Red Sox.

The Indians’ pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives played professionally, several of them with famous last names in baseball.

Conner Capel was the 5th-round draft choice of the Indians in 2016.  He made his professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League.  He is the son of Mike Capel, who pitched parts of three major-league seasons during 1988 to 1991.

Joe Sever completed his fifth season as a first baseman in the Indians organization last year, after being drafted in the 21st round in 2012.  With Double-A Akron last, he hit .251 with 4 HR and 35 RBI.  He is the nephew of John Elway, NFL Hall of Fame player, an outfielder in the New York Yankees organization in 1982.

Luke Wakamatsu was drafted out of high school in the 20th round of the 2015 MLB Draft and finished his second pro season at the Class A level last year.  The infielder is the son of Don Wakamatsu, who played part of one major-league season with the Indians in 1991 and was manager of the Seattle Mariners in 2009-2010.

Bradley Zimmer was a first-round draft pick of the Indians in 2014 and has progressed through the Indians farm system, including 37 games with Triple-A Columbus last season.  The outfielder is the brother of Kyle Zimmer, a first-round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 2012, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery in October 2014.

 

The 2016 Indians had their share of baseball relatives in the dugout and front office, too.

Sandy Alomar Jr. was the first-base coach for the Indians last year.  He was Rookie of the Year for the Indians in 1990 and was selected to six all-star teams with them.  He was a career .273 hitter in twenty major-league seasons.  His brother, Roberto, was a Hall of Fame second baseman during 1988 to 2004.  Their father, Sandy Sr., was a major-league infielder from 1964 to 1978 for six different clubs.  He had an all-star season with the California Angels in 1970.

Terry Francona, the manager of the Indians, led the team to their first World Series since 1995.  He previously won two Series titles as manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007.  Francona also had a ten-year playing career as a first baseman and outfielder.  His father, Tito, was a major-leaguer player from 1956 to 1970, including six seasons with the Indians.  He was an all-star selection in 1961 with the Indians.

Tom Hamilton is a broadcaster for the Indians.  His son, Nick, was a minor-league infielder in the Indians organization from 2012 to 2014.

Steve McCatty was a pitching coach in the Indians minor-league system last year, after serving as the pitching coach for the Washington Nationals from 2009 to 2015.  He had formerly pitched for the Oakland A’s from 1977 to 1985.  His son, Shane, was a pitcher in the Nationals organization from 2009 to 2012.

Brad Mills was the bench coach for the Indians last year, having also served in that capacity with Francona at Boston.  He managed the Houston Astros from 2010 to 2012 and was an infielder for the Montreal Expos from 1980 to 1983.  His son, Beau, was the first-round pick of the Indians in 2007 and played six minor-league seasons with the organization as a first baseman.

Mike Seghi worked in the Indians front office as director of team travel last year.  He is the son of Phil Seghi, the former general manager of the Indians from 1973 to 1985.

Robby Thompson served as a special assistant for the Indians last season.  He played second base for the San Francisco Giants from 1986 to 1996, which included two all-star seasons.  He was a coach for the Giants, Indians and Seattle Mariners.  He had twin sons who also played baseball.  Tyler was drafted out of the University of Florida, his father’s alma mater, by the Washington Nationals in the 46th round in 2011.  Logan was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2010 and played one minor-league season with them.

 

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/