These Sons of Major Leaguers Chose Football

Major League Baseball has had over 200 father-son combinations who both played in the big-leagues.  But the sons of major-leaguers don’t always choose their father’s sport. Sometimes they don’t want the pressure of having to follow in their father’s baseball footsteps.  Sometimes they want to make a name for themselves by trying to excel another sport.

This year’s college football season features several prominent sons of former major leaguers.  Not surprising, they play in offensive skill positions on the gridiron. Below is a list of the more notable of these college players, their current teams, their father’s names and their father’s years in major-league baseball.

Shane Buechele, University of Texas QB, son of Steve Buechele (1985-1995)

Torii Hunter Jr., University of Notre Dame WR, son of Torii Hunter Sr. (1997-2015)

Trey Griffey, University of Arizona WR, son of Ken Griffey Jr. (1989-2010)

Pat Mahomes II, University of Texas Tech QB, son of Pat Mahomes Sr. (1992-2003)

Dante Pettis, University of Washington WR/KR, son of Gary Pettis (1982-1992)

Kenny Hill, Texas Christian University QB, son of Ken Hill (1988-2001)

Derek McLemore, University of Houston WR, son of Mark McLemore (1986-2004)

Brandon Johnson, University of Tennessee WR, son of Charles Johnson (1994 – 2005)

To read more about these football players, see the link below from bignewsnetwork.com:

http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/247723667/mlb-fathers-rooting-for-college-football-sonsetwork.com:

 

 

 

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Family Ties Prominent Again in this Year’s MLB Draft

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi, 07/05/2016

Following the MLB Draft in June of every year, I try to identify those drafted amateur players who have a relative in professional baseball. I’ve found 48 players so far who fit this criteria this year.  They represent the latest crop of relatives that have infused baseball rosters since the sport’s professional beginnings in the 1870s.

Every year there are intriguing backgrounds for several of the drafted players. This year is no exception.  Here’s a look at some of the highlights of this year’s players with family ties in baseball.

One of the headliners in this year’s major-league draft class probably won’t attempt to play professional baseball at all. Trey Griffey was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 24th round, even though he hasn’t played baseball since grade school.  He is currently a senior wide receiver for the University of Arizona.  Trey has one of the most recognizable last names in baseball.  His father is Ken Griffey Jr., who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame later this summer.  His grandfather is Ken Griffey Sr., who was a 19-year veteran of the majors.  The Mariners actually selected Trey as a tribute to his father, who played a significant portion of his career in Seattle, wearing uniform Number 24.

Torii Hunter Jr. is another college football player selected in this year’s draft, except he also played baseball, albeit sparingly, at Notre Dame for two seasons. His father is Torii Hunter Sr., who retired only last year after playing 19 years in the majors.  Torii Jr. had been drafted out of high school in 2013 by the Detroit Tigers, but chose to attend Notre Dame to play football and baseball.  However, football became his primary sport, as he has played on special teams and as a wide receiver.  He wound up playing only a handful of baseball games for The Fighting Irish.  Because of his athleticism and family bloodlines, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 23rd round this year and proceeded to sign a pro contract with them.  He still intends to play football at Notre Dame this fall.  Who knows?  He may be the next Deion Sanders, who played professionally in both football and baseball.

Bo Bichette was encouraged by his father, Dante Bichette, to play tennis as a youngster, but he wound up following in his father’s baseball footsteps. Bo was drafted out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2nd round, after becoming one of the top prep pitchers in the country.  The elder Bichette was a four-time major-league all-star during his 14-year career.  Bo’s older brother, Dante Jr., is currently an infield prospect in the New York Yankees organization.

Cavan Biggio, son of 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Craig Biggio, was drafted this year by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 5th round.  The infielder had previously been drafted out of high school in 2013 by the Phillies, but chose to attend college at Notre Dame, where he was a starter for three seasons.  Cavan’s brother, Conor, was drafted last year by his father’s major league team, the Houston Astros, after also playing for Notre Dame, but he did not sign a pro contract.

Chad Hockin is the grandson of another Hall of Famer, Harmon Killebrew. He was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 6th round, after completing his third season as a pitcher for Cal State Fullerton.  Grandfather Killebrew was one of the all-time great sluggers in baseball, recording 573 career home runs.  He was selected to all-star teams on eleven occasions and was American League MVP in 1969.  Chad’s brother, Grant, was a 2nd round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2014.  His uncle, Cameron Killebrew, played in the Texas Rangers organization and unaffiliated baseball from 1978-1981.

Grae Kessinger is a third-generation baseball player that was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 26th round.  His grandfather is Don Kessinger, a six-time all-star shortstop for the Chicago Cubs who also managed in the majors for the Chicago White Sox.  Grae’s father is Kevin Kessinger, who played in the Cubs organization in 1989, while his uncle, Keith Kessinger, played part of one major-league season for the Cincinnati Reds in 1993.  It is likely Grae will opt to attend Ole Miss on a baseball scholarship, where his grandfather, father, and uncle also played collegiately.

Brandon Bossard’s baseball bloodlines go back three generations before him. The shortstop was drafted out of high school by the Chicago White Sox in the 31st round.  However, his forefathers didn’t play the game, but instead worked as groundskeepers for the White Sox.  His great-grandfather, Emeril, was the first in the family to hold the position, followed by his grandfather, Gene, and his father, Roger, who is currently the head groundskeeper at U. S. Cellular Field.

JaVon Shelby, drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 5th round out of the University of Kentucky, also comes from a large baseball family.  His father, John Shelby, was a big league outfielder from 1981 to 1991, primarily for the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers.  JaVon has three brothers who also played baseball.  John III played in the minors from 2006 to 2012 for the White Sox and Rays organizations, while Jeremy played briefly in the Orioles organization in 2010.  Youngest brother Jaren, this year’s Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky, has signed a letter of intent to play for Kentucky next year and projects to be a future major league draft pick.  JaVon’s cousins, Josh Harrison and Vince Harrison Jr., both played baseball professionally, with Josh currently playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Brothers Joshua and Nathaniel Lowe were both drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays. Joshua was a top high school third baseman in Georgia, while Nathaniel played first base for Mississippi State University.  Joshua was selected in the first round, the 13th overall pick, and Nathaniel was picked in the 13th round.  They are the sons of David Lowe, who was drafted out of high school by the Seattle Mariners in the 5th round in 1986, but did not play professional baseball.

Every year there are also a handful of major-league draftees whose bloodlines don’t include a baseball background. This year’s list includes pitcher Matt Manning, son of Rich Manning who played in the NBA for two seasons (1995-1996).  Matt was a first-round pick of the Detroit Tigers.  Pitcher Griffin Jax, the son of NFL linebacker Garth Jax (1986-1995), was the third-round pick of the Minnesota Twins.  Outfielder Chris Bono, the 37th round pick of the San Francisco Giants, is the son of former NFL quarterback Steve Bono, a veteran of 14 pro seasons (1985-1999).

A full list of the players from the 2016 MLB Draft with relatives in professional baseball can be viewed at http://baseballrelatives.mlblogs.com/2016-family-ties/.

Torii Hunter Jr. Keeps Baseball as an Option

Torii Hunter Jr., son of former major league all-star Torii Hunter Sr., was selected in the 23rd round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angels.  He has played both football and baseball at Notre Dame, although football became his primary sport for The Fighting Irish as a wide receiver.

However, Torii Jr. recently signed a pro contract with the Angels, thus keeping open an option for eventually playing pro baseball.  His signing does not affect his eligibility to play football this fall for Notre Dame.  It’s likely he will be drafted by an NFL team next year.

Read more about Torii’s career at the link below from Today’s U Sports:

http://www.todaysu.com/fbs-independents/notre-dame-fighting-irish/baseball-provides-life-after-sports-for-torii-hunter-jr/

Odds of MLB Draft Legacies Making the Big Leagues

Each year there a number of sons, brothers, and cousins of current and former major-league players who are selected in the 2016 MLB Draft.

Bleacher Report provided an interesting assessment of the probabilities of several legacy prospects from the 2016  draft actually reaching the major-league level.

The assessment included the following drafted players who have relatives in pro baseball:

  • Bo Bichette, son of Dante Bichette and brother Dante Bichette Jr.
  • Cavan Biggio, son of Craig Biggio and brother of Conor Biggio
  • Conner Capel, son of Mike Capel
  • Trey Griffey, son of Ken Griffey Jr. and grandson of Ken Griffey Sr.
  • Jacob Heyward, brother of Jason Heyward
  • Torii Hunter Jr., son of Torii Hunter Sr.
  • Preston Palmeiro, son of Rafael Palmeiro and brother of Patrick Palmeiro
  • Cal Quantrill, son of Paul Quantrill
  • Nick Shumpert, son of Terry Shumpert and cousin of Mookie Betts

For the full report see the link below from Bleacher Report:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2645856-odds-of-each-2016-mlb-draft-legacy-prospect-reaching-the-majors

 

 

Sons Don’t Always Follow in their Fathers’ Baseball Footsteps

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

NFL’s No. 1 overall draft pick, Jared Goff, forsakes baseball heritage

When the Los Angeles Rams selected Jared Goff as the overall first pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, perhaps more than anyone else his father, Jerry, was well aware of the impact of the occasion.

Jerry Goff had some prior experience with pro sports drafts himself, since he was the third-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 1986 Major League Baseball Draft. His career was comprised primarily of over 900 minor league games over twelve seasons, although he did manage to appear in 90 major league games with the Montreal Expos, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Houston Astros.  It’s likely that the biggest moment of his nondescript major league career came in his last game when he hit a home run.  He toiled for a dozen years and never made the big bucks as a baseball player.

The younger Goff was a three-sport standout in high school, but wound up deciding on football when he went to the University of California at Berkeley to play quarterback. His career decision has now paid off, since he stands to sign for a substantial bonus and will likely be a starter within a couple of years.

In an interview on the MLB Radio Network, the elder Goff said he never pushed Jared towards baseball, although he was a standout shortstop through high school. Ultimately, Jared showed better skills in football, and Jerry fully supported his son’s pursuit of the sport at the college level.

The vast majority of relatives of professional baseball players pursue baseball rather than choosing another professional sport. As an indicator of this situation, over 800 professional baseball players, managers, and coaches in 2015 had a relative in pro baseball.  When considering the relatively few number of major leaguers whose sons choose professional football as a career, Jared Goff is in select company as the NFL’s No. 1 pick this year.

A look at a few of Jared Goff’s predecessors

Prior to Goff, the most notable son of a former major league player to pursue professional football was Tom Mack. His father, Ray, had been a second baseman during nine major league seasons from 1938 to 1947.  Ray primarily played for the Cleveland Indians which included an all-star season in 1940.  Tom was the No. 2 overall pick of the 1966 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams, and went on to an NFL Hall of Fame career as an offensive guard with the Rams for 13 seasons.

Ernie Koy Jr. was an 11th-round pick of the New York Giants in the 1965 NFL Draft.  He had been a standout running back at the University of Texas and became a punter and halfback for the Giants from 1965 to 1970.  Ernie’s father, Ernie Sr., had been an outfielder for four National League teams from 1938 to 1942, when he compiled a career .279 batting average in 558 games.

Lee Riley Sr. was in the major leagues for only a cup of coffee (four games) in 1944, when most of the regular players were in the military service during World War II. His son, Lee Jr., had a more substantial career in the NFL and AFL as a defensive back from 1955 to 1962 for the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Detroit Lions and New York Titans.  However, another son of Lee Sr. would become more recognizable.  Pat Riley was the highly successful player and coach in the NBA.

New York Yankee immortal Yogi Berra also had sons who chose different paths in professional sports. Tim Berra was the 17th round draft pick of the Baltimore Colts in 1974, but played only one NFL season as a receiver/punt returner.  Dale Berra played for eleven seasons in the major leagues, primarily with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The shortstop/third baseman posted a .236 career batting average in 853 games.  Yogi had another son, Laurence, who played sparingly for two seasons in the New York Mets organization.

Cory Harkey is the son of Mike Harkey, a former major league pitcher for the Chicago Cubs and four other teams during 1988 to 1997. Mike is currently the bullpen coach for the New York Yankees.  Cory has been a tight end for the Los Angeles Rams for the past four seasons after attending UCLA.

A future in pro football?

There are several sons of former major leaguers who are currently playing football at the college level. Perhaps we’ll see a few of them in the NFL soon.

Trey Griffey may have the best baseball lineage of all time. He is the son of Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and grandson of Ken Griffey Sr., a three-time all-star and owner of a .296 career batting average over 19 seasons.  Yet Trey chose football as his primary sport.  He is currently a senior wide receiver for the University of Arizona.

Torii Hunter Jr. was drafted by the Detroit Tigers out of high school in 2013, but chose to attend Notre Dame instead, where he currently plays both football and baseball for the Fighting Irish. The wide receiver will be a starting senior in the coming season, while he has been a back-up outfielder on the baseball team.  Torii’s father, Torii Sr., was a five-time all-star and nine-time Gold Glove outfielder during his twenty years in the major leagues.

After leading his high school team to two state baseball championships, Patrick Mahomes chose to play football in college. He is currently one of the nation’s leading college quarterbacks at Texas Tech.  In 2015 he completed his sophomore season with over 4,600 yards passing and 36 touchdowns.  Patrick is the son of Pat Mahomes, who had an eleven-year career as a major league pitcher, primarily as a relief specialist, during 1992 to 2003.

Dante Pettis is currently a junior wide receiver and punt returner for the University of Washington. His father is Gary Pettis, a veteran of eleven major league years which included five Gold Glove awards as an outfielder.  Gary is currently a coach for the Houston Astros.

Torii Hunter Jr. Balances Football and Baseball During Spring

Spring is a tough time for Torii Hunter Jr., as he looks to balance his time between football and baseball at Notre Dame.

Torii is currently a junior, with two seasons under his belt on the Fighting Irish football team.  He is in his second season on the baseball team, although he has played sparingly.

He is the son of Torii Hunter, who retired from Major League Baseball in 2015 after putting in 19 seasons, including five All-Star selections and nine Gold Glove awards.

Torii was drafted out of high school by the Detroit Tigers in the 36th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, but chose to attend Notre Dame.

Read more about Torii Hunter Jr. at the link below from the Chicago Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/college/ct-torii-hunter-jr-notre-dame-football-spt-0317-20160316-story.html

 

Torii Hunter Happy his Son is Back in Baseball

Major Leaguer Torii Hunter’s son, Torii Hunter, Jr. is playing baseball again at Notre Dame this spring, his first season since his junior year in high school.  Hunter Jr. opted for a football scholarship with Notre Dame, but now the redshirt freshman has joined the Irish baseball squad as well.

Hunter Sr. is glad to see his son back on the diamond, since that is where Hunter Sr. has made his living for the last eighteen years in the big leagues.

See related story about the father and son at the link below from twincities.com:

http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_27617780/hunter-happy-welcome-son-back-family-business