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 – Boston Red Sox

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

This is the third 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.

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

Ken Brett had just turned 19 years old when he made two appearances in the 1967 World Series with the Red Sox.  He went on to pitch for the Red Sox in three more seasons as part of his 14-year career that ended in 1981.  Ken’s brother, George, was a Hall of Fame third baseman for the Kansas City Royals that led the American League in hitting in three different decades.  Ken had two other brothers, John and Robert, who played only one season in the minors.

Roger Clemens won 192 games and three Cy Young Awards in his 13-seasons with the Red Sox.  Over his 24-year career, he won a total of 354 games and is currently 3rd all-time in strikeouts.  Altogether he garnered seven Cy Young Awards during his career.  Roger had three sons involved in baseball.  Koby played in the minors for eight seasons in the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays organizations.  His sons, Kacy and Kody, were drafted out of high school by the Astros, but both opted to attend the University of Texas where they are currently playing baseball.

Dom DiMaggio is part of one of the most famous trio of baseball brothers in history.  His brother, Joe, a Hall of Famer player with the New York Yankees from 1936 to 1951, was a 13-time All-Star and winner of the American League MVP Award three times.  Dom’s brother, Vince, was a two-time All-Star during his ten major-league seasons.  Dom played for the Red Sox during 1940 – 1953, when he was selected to All-Star teams in seven seasons. All three brothers played in the outfield.

Dave Sisler pitched in four seasons for the Red Sox in the 1950s.  He is the son of Hall of Fame player George Sisler Sr. who twice hit over .400 en route to a .340 career batting average.  Dave’s brother, Dick, was a member of the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” that won the 1950 National League pennant.  The first baseman logged eight seasons with the Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.  A third Sisler brother, George Jr., played four minor-league seasons before becoming a general manager for several minor-league clubs and then president of the International League from 1966 to 1976.

Fast forwarding to more recent times, here are some highlights of baseball relatives in the Boston Red Sox organization during 2016.

Mookie Betts has emerged as one of the Red Sox’s brightest stars, finishing second in the American League MVP voting last year, only his second full season. He hit 31 HR and 113 RBI while posting a .318 batting average and 26 stolen bases.  He is the nephew of Terry Shumpert, a 14-year veteran infielder who primarily played for the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies.  Terry had a career .252 batting average.  Mookie’s cousin is Nicholas Shumpert, the 28th round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2016.  Nicholas played his first pro season at the rookie league level last season.

Xander Bogaerts is another young star that came up through the Red Sox farm system and ranks among the best shortstops in the game.  In an all-star season last year, he had career-highs with 21 HR and 89 RBI while batting .294.  His twin brother, Jair, played two seasons in the Dominican Summer League for the Red Sox organization in 2010 and 2011.  There have been only eight sets of twins where both brothers played in the major leagues.

Craig Kimbrel came to the Red Sox last year after five seasons with the Atlanta Braves and one with the San Diego Padres.  In four of his years with the Braves, he led the National League in saves.  Overall, he has posted 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a WHIP of 0.949.  Craig’s brother, Matt, was drafted by the Braves in 2012, and he spent three seasons at low levels in the Braves farm system

Drew Pomeranz joined the Red Sox staff in July last year after earning an all-star selection with the San Diego Padres during the first half of the season.  He has pitched for six seasons that included stints with the Colorado Rockies and Oakland A’s.  Drew’s brother, Stu, had a brief appearance in the majors with Baltimore in 2012. Their great-grandfather was Garland Buckeye, a major-league pitcher during 1918 – 1928, primarily with the Cleveland Indians.  Buckeye compiled a 30-39 record.  Their father, Mike, was a minor-league pitcher from 1988 to 1992, after being selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 13th round of the 1988 MLB Draft.  Their uncle, Patrick, played one season in the Chicago White Sox organization in 1983.

Rick Porcello earned the American League Cy Young Award last year, in his second season with the Red Sox and eighth overall year in the majors.  The 27-year-old posted a career best 22-4 record and 3.15 ERA.  Rick’s grandfather was Sam Dente, a major-league infielder from 1948 to 1955.  Dente posted a career .252 batting average for five teams.  Rick’s brother, Jake, was a late-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2009, but did not sign.

Travis Shaw became the starting third baseman for the Red Sox in his second season with them.  He hit 16 HR and 71 RBI to along with a .242 batting average.  His father is Jeff Shaw, who spent 12 seasons in the big leagues as a relief pitcher and earned two all-star selections.  Travis was traded by the Red Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers over the winter.

Other Red Sox major leaguers in 2016 that had relatives in pro baseball include: Deven Marrero, whose cousin Chris Marrero also plays in the Red Sox organization; Sean O’Sullivan whose brother Ryan O’Sullivan played in the independent leagues; Robbie Ross whose father Chuck Ross pitched in the Red Sox organization in the 1970s; Joe Kelly, son-in-law of former major leaguer Derek Parks; and Pablo Sandoval whose brother Michael played in the Twins and Giants organizations during 1999 – 2010.

The Red Sox pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives were former major-league players: Jake Cosart, Boston’s third-round pick in 2013, is the brother of current major leaguer Jarred Cosart and grandson of Ed Donnelly, who pitched briefly for the Chicago Cubs in 1963; Teddy Stankiewicz, a second round pick of the Red Sox in 2013, is the son of former major leaguer Andy Stankiewicz, while his brother Drew was in the Philadelphia Phillies organization last year; Yomar Valentin is the son of former major leaguer Jose Valentin and nephew of former major leaguer Javier Valentin; Tate Matheny, a fourth round pick of the Red Sox in 2015, is the son of current St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

The 2016 Red Sox had their share of baseball relatives in the dugout, too. Manager John Farrell is the father of three sons who have been in pro baseball.  Luke Farrell is currently a pitcher in the Kansas City Royals organization.  Jeremy Farrell is a minor-league coach in the Chicago Cubs organization, while Shane Farrell is a scout with the Cubs.  John’s father, Thomas, was also a minor-league pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in the 1950s.

Bench coach Torey Lovullo is the father of Nick Lovullo who made his pro debut in the Red Sox organization in 2016.  Torey was named the new manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter.  First base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. is the son of Ruben Amaro Sr., former major league infielder who primarily appeared with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1960s.  Ruben Jr.’s brother, David, played one minor-league season with the Cubs in 1984.  Two of his nephews were drafted by the Phillies.  Third base coach Brian Butterfield is the son of Jack Butterfield, who was an executive and scout with the New York Yankees.  Assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez, Sr. is the father of Miguel and Victor who were both drafted by the Red Sox.  Victor Jr. is currently a scout in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.  Victor Sr.’s brother, Ahmed, played four minor-league seasons in the Cardinals organization.

In the Red Sox front office, Frank Wren is the senior vice-president of baseball operations.  His son, Kyle, played at the Triple-A level in the Milwaukee Brewers organization last year.  His son, Jordan, was drafted by the Red Sox in the 36th round, but did not sign. Carl Yastrzemski, one of the all-time Red Sox great players, is currently a player development consultant with the team.  His grandson, Mike, played outfield at the Triple-A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization last year.  Carl’s son, Mike, was also a minor-league outfielder in the mid-1980s.

Lee May Jr. is a minor-league coach in the Red Sox organization.  Like Yastrzemski, he is part of a three-generation baseball family.  His father, Lee May Sr., was a three-time all-star first baseman during 18 major-league seasons, primarily with the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles.  Lee Jr.’s son, Jacob, is currently an outfielder in the Chicago White Sox organization playing at the Triple-A level.

 

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/