These Dads Were Ballplayers, Too

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

It’s one thing for a dad to have his son make it to the major-leagues, but it’s even more special when the dad was also a former major-leaguer. The number of big-league father-son combinations is pretty rare.  Less than 500, out of almost 19,000 major leaguers to have played since 1876, are a father or son.

When former major-leaguer Pete Rose was shopping around for a new team in the free agent marketplace, one of his considerations was that the team would allow his son to practically have everyday access to the team’s clubhouse. Many major-league sons like Pete Jr. have their interests in baseball as youngsters fueled by hanging out with their dads in the clubhouse or shagging fly balls during batting practice before their dads’ games.  Consequently, the sons have a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with big-league players and to begin learning the ropes of what it takes to be a successful professional ballplayer.

Ironically, the fathers probably didn’t get too many chances to see their sons develop their own skills while growing up on the playgrounds, since the dads were off playing in big-league cities across the country. For example, Pete Rose said he attended fewer than ten of his son’s games during his childhood.  When Ken Griffey Jr. was playing in his first pro season in an instructional league, it was the first time in five years his major-league father had seen him play.

In honor of Father’s Day, below is a group of major league dads from the past, whose sons are currently playing in the big-leagues. The dads are organized into a Fathers Fantasy Team.

1B — Andy Van Slyke, father of Scott Van Slyke (Los Angeles Dodgers).  Andy was a three-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner during 1983 to 1995.  Most of his career was spent with the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates as an outfielder, but he occasionally played first base as well.

2B – Delino DeShields, father of Delino DeShields Jr. (Texas Rangers).  The elder DeShields was the first-round draft selection of the Montreal Expos in 1987.  Three years later he was runner-up for National League Rookie of the Year honors.  He then went on to 13-year career in which he batted .268.

SS – Ivan de Jesus, father of Ivan de Jesus Jr. (Milwaukee Brewers).  Ivan Sr. was a slick-fielding shortstop for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.  He was the shortstop on the 1983 Phillies World Series team whose infield included Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt.

3B – Clay Bellinger, father of Cody Bellinger (Los Angeles Dodgers).  Clay appeared in the World Series in 2001 and 2002 with the New York Yankees, earning a championship ring in 2001.  Primarily a utility player, he played every position with the Yankees except pitcher and catcher in 2000.

OF — Kevin Romine, father of Andrew Romine (Detroit Tigers) and Austin Romine (New York Yankees).  Kevin was a 2nd-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1982 and played with them during 1985 to 1991.  He had one post-season appearance with the Red Sox in 1988.

OF – Eric Young, father of Eric Young Jr. (Los Angeles Angels).  Eric Sr. played fifteen seasons in the big-leagues with seven different teams as a second baseman and outfielder.  During his career he compiled a .283 batting average and 465 stolen bases, currently 48th on the all-time stolen base list.  He was an All-Star in 1996 with Colorado as a second baseman.

OF – Raul R. Mondesi, father of Raul A. Mondesi (Kansas City Royals).  The elder Mondesi was National League Rookie of the Year in 1994 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and wound up playing seven seasons with them, including two post-seasons appearances.  He played a total of 13 seasons in the majors, compiling 271 home runs.

C – Sal Butera, father of Drew Butera (Kansas City Royals).  Sal was a backup catcher for five different major-league clubs during 1980 to 1988.  He was a member of the 1987 World Series champion Minnesota Twins.

SP – Tom Gordon, father of Dee Gordon (Miami Marlins).  Nicknamed “Flash,” Tom first started his pro career as a starting pitcher, but later switched to the bullpen.  He was runner-up in the voting for the American League Rookie of the Year in 1989 while with the Kansas City Royals.  He won 97 games as a starter during his first 10 seasons.  He led the led the American League in saves in 1998 with the Boston Red Sox.  Altogether he recorded 158 career saves.  He was a three-time All-Star selection.

RP – Steve Bedrosian, father of Cam Bedrosian (Los Angeles Angels).  Steve compiled a 76-79 record and 184 saves over 14 seasons during 1981 to 1985.  He was the National League’s Cy Young Award winner in 1987 with the Philadelphia Phillies, a relatively uncommon feat for a relief pitcher.  He was a member of the 1991 World Series champion Minnesota Twins.

A few other current major-leaguers with fathers who also played at the major-league level include Steve Lombardozzi (Marlins), Lance McCullers Jr. (Astros), Jason Grilli (Blue Jays), and Travis Shaw (Brewers).

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Family Ties Flourishing in Baseball – Los Angeles Dodgers

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

This is the second 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.

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

Norm and Larry Sherry formed one of the few brother batterymates in major league baseball history.  Norm was a backup catcher for the Dodgers during 1959 – 1962.  Larry was one of the Dodgers’ primary relief pitchers during the same timeframe.  In their first game together on May 7, 1960, Norm hit his first major league home run to give the winning decision to his Larry.

Al Campanis was the general manager of the Dodgers from 1968 to 1987, after having briefly played with Brooklyn in 1943.  His son, Jim Campanis, got his major league start as a catcher with the Dodgers in 1966, but was later traded by his father to the Kansas City Royals.

Maury Wills was the speedster shortstop of the Dodgers, who made major league history by breaking Ty Cobb’s record for most stolen bases (101) in 1962.  Wills’ son, Bump, had a six-year major league career with the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs and finished in the Top 10 in stolen bases in five seasons.

Walter O’Malley owned the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1950 to 1979, during which time they won eleven National League pennants and four World Series titles.  His son, Peter O’Malley became co-owner of the Dodgers with his sister Theresa O’Malley Seidler upon Walter’s death.  Peter’s and Theresa’s sons later became part-owners of the San Diego Padres.

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

Corey Seager is one of the hottest young players in all of baseball.  The 22-year-old shortstop turned in a National League Rookie of the Year performance in 2016, while also finishing 3rd in the MVP Award voting.  He is the second of three Seager brothers to reach the majors.  Brother Kyle is a six-year veteran with the Seattle Mariners.  The third baseman had the best season of his career in 2016, posting 30 HR, 99 RBI and hitting .278.  He was selected to the All-Star team in 2014.  Brother Justin completed his fourth year in the Mariners organization, but has yet to have a break-through season.

Joc Pederson is another big part of the Dodgers’ future, completing his second full season with 25 HR and 68 RBI.  His father, Stu, had a “cup of coffee” (eight games) with the Dodgers in 1985 among his twelve professional seasons in the Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays organizations.  Joc’s brother, Tyger, was also drafted by the Dodgers, but has spent most of his three pro seasons in the independent leagues.

Adrian Gonzalez, a career .290 hitter, has been the most consistent position player for the Dodgers in their last four seasons winning the NL West Division.  In each of his last eleven major-league seasons, he has played 156 or more games.  He is a five-time all-star selection.  His brother, Edgar, played two seasons for the San Diego Padres in 2008 and 2009, when he was a teammate of Adrian.  Altogether, Edgar put in 15 pro seasons that included time in Mexico and Japan.

Carl Crawford was once one of the bright, young stars with the Tampa Bay Rays, but his four seasons with the Dodgers have largely been a major disappointment.  Injuries have been a big factor in limiting his playing time.  With the Rays, the speedy outfielder led the American League in stolen bases for four seasons and was selected for the All-Star Game in four seasons.  His cousin, J. P. Crawford, is a shortstop who is currently the top prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.  Carl’s uncle, Jack Crawford, played in the California Angels farm system during 1981-1983.

Scott Van Slyke has primarily played as a reserve outfielder in his five seasons with the Dodgers.  He had his best season in 2014 with 11 HR and 29 RBI, while posting a .910 OPS.  His father is Andy Van Slyke, who played thirteen major-league seasons, primarily with the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates.  Andy’s career includes three All-Star Game selections and five Gold Glove Awards.  Scott has two brothers who also played professionally.  Eric spent one season in the rookie league with the Kansas City Royals organization, before two seasons in the independent leagues.  Brother A. J. was an outfielder/first baseman for four seasons in the Cardinals organization.

Charlie Culberson spent parts of the 2016 season on the Dodgers’ major league roster, after playing for the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies in 2012-2014.  The infielder hit .299 in 34 Dodgers games.  He represents the third generation of his family to play pro baseball.  His grandfather, Leon, a six-year major leaguer primarily with the Boston Red Sox, was a member of the 1946 American League championship team.  His father, Charles, was drafted by the Giants 1984 and spent five seasons in the minors with the Giants and Kansas City Royals organizations.  Charlie’s great uncle, James, spent one minor-league season in the New York Giants organization.

Kenley Jansen, initially a catcher when he started out in pro baseball, was one of the top closers in the National League in 2016.  The 6’ 5”, 270-pound Curacao-born pitcher recorded a 1.83 ERA and 47 saves, while putting up a 0.670 WHIP and almost 14 strikeouts per nine innings.  Although eligible for free agency at the end of last season, Jansen re-signed with the Dodgers to keep their bullpen intact.  Kenley’s brother, Ardley, was an outfielder in the Atlanta Braves organization for seven seasons, but never made a major-league roster.

Louis Coleman was a mainstay in the Dodgers’ bullpen last year, appearing in 61 games, mostly in middle relief.  He was signed as a free agent by the Dodgers after spending five seasons on the Kansas City Royals major-league roster.  Louis is the brother-in-law of Nathan Adcock, who was a former teammate in the Royals organization.  Adcock last appeared in the majors in 2015 with the Cincinnati Reds as a relief pitcher.

Several other Dodgers players, who briefly appeared on their major-league roster during 2016, had relatives that played in the major leagues: Will Venable (son of major leaguer Max Venable), Austin Barnes (nephew of major leaguer Mike Gallego), and Brock Stewart (son of minor leaguer Jeffrey Stewart and brother of minor leaguer Luke Stewart).

The Dodgers’ pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives were former major-league players: Adam Law will be seeking to become one of the few three-generation players in baseball history to all appear in the major leagues, following father Vance Law and grandfather Vern Law); Cody Bellinger is a promising slugger whose father is former major leaguer Clay Bellinger; Lenix Osuna is the son of former major leaguer Antonio Osuna and cousin of current major leaguer Roberto Osuna).

Off the field, the 2016 Dodgers had their share of baseball relatives, too.

Their broadcast booth was filled with a number of former Dodgers players who had relatives in pro baseball: Nomar Garciaparra (brother of Michael Garciaparra, currently a scout in the St. Louis Cardinals organization); Manny Mota (father of five sons who played pro baseball, including two in the majors); Orel Hershiser (father of Jordan Hershiser, a former minor leaguer, and brother of former Dodgers minor leaguer Gordie Hershiser); Fernando Valenzuela (father of Fernando Valenzuela Jr., a former minor leaguer).  Additionally, Jaime Jarrin is the long-time Spanish broadcaster for the Dodgers.  His son, Jorge, also shares the microphone as a Dodgers broadcaster, while his grandson, Stefan, played briefly as a Dodgers minor leaguer.

Bob Geren is currently the bench coach for the Dodgers.  He has two sons, Bobby and Brett, who were drafted by the Oakland A’s organization, but never signed contracts to play professionally.

Brian Stephenson is a scout in the Dodgers organization, after having pitched for seven league seasons in the Chicago Cubs and Dodgers minor league systems.  His father, Jerry, was a major league pitcher during 1963-1970, ending his career in the Dodgers organization.  His grandfather, Joe, was a major league catcher who played briefly during 1943-1947 and went on to a scouting position with the Boston Red Sox.

Nick Francona works in the Dodgers front office in player development.  Drafted in the 40th round by the Boston Red Sox in 2004, he didn’t sign to play for them, instead serving in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan.  He is the son of Terry Francona, the current manager of the Cleveland Indians and previous skipper of the Red Sox where his teams captured two World Series titles.  Nick’s grandfather, Tito, played in the majors for nine different teams from 1956 to 1970.  An outfielder/first baseman, Tito hit .363 for the Indians in 1959.

 

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/

 

Scott Van Slyke Got Lessons From His Major League Father

Scott Van Slyke, outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is one of four sons of Andy Van Slyke, a three-time Major League All-Star. Scott said he got valuable lessons from his father regarding the game of baseball, and he fondly remembers the father-son games with his father’s major league clubs.

See attached article from dodgers.com about Scott:
http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130613&content_id=50519158&c_id=la