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.
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:
In the 2016 MLB Draft, the son of Ken Griffey Jr., Trey, was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 24th round. However, Trey, hasn’t played baseball since he was a kid. Instead, his chose sport is football, currently playing for the University of Arizona. The draft pick was apparently the Mariners’ way of paying tribute to Trey’s father, who will be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.
Read more about Trey Griffey at the link below from sbnation.com:
Jordan and Justus Sheffield are making their names in baseball as top pitchers.
Jordan passed up the major leagues out of high school to sign with Vanderbilt University. He is currently one of the top pitchers in the SEC and is expected to be a future first-round pick.
Younger brother Justus passed up college and signed a professional contract with the Cleveland Indians after being selected in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
The brothers are the nephews of former major league all-star Gary Sheffield.
Read more about the Sheffield brothers at the link below from The News & Advance:
Frank and Yosh Kawano never played baseball themselves, but both had long careers in the clubhouses of major league teams. Now in their nineties, they actually spent time in Japanese internment camps during World War II before landing jobs in baseball
Yosh spent five decades as the clubhouse manager for the Chicago Cubs, while Frank held a similar job in the Dodgers organization.
Read more about the Kawano brothers at the link below from the Los Angeles Times:
Pete Rose Jr. didn’t come close to having the career of his father, “The Hit King,” but he still shares a passion for the sport in which his father excelled.
Rose Jr. is currently the manager of the independent league Wichita Wingnuts, having spent 21 years playing in the minors as well as coaching and managing at the minor league level. He appeared in the major leagues for eleven games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1997.
Read more about Pete Rose Jr. at the link below from The Wichita Eagle:
Siblings often grow up as rivals, especially in playground sports. However, in the case of Sean and David Reid-Foley, the two professional baseball players looked to each other during spring training for support.
Sean plays in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, after having been drafted in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft. The 20-year-old power pitcher is now playing for Lansing, a Single-A affiliate of the Blue Jays.
Sean’s brother David is also a pitcher and plays in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
To read more about the Reid-Foley brothers, follow the link below from Sportsnet:
Bill DeWitt Jr., chairman/CEO/president of the St. Louis Cardinals, marked the 20th anniversary of his ownership in the team in 2016. During this stretch, the Cardinals have been one of the most successful teams in baseball.
Bill Jr.’s father, Bill DeWitt Sr., started out as a peanut vendor at baseball games in St. Louis over a hundred years ago and then worked his way thr0ugh the baseball ranks, ultimately becoming an executive in several big league organizations. He was a part-owner of the St. Louis Browns and owner of the Cincinnati Reds, before retiring from baseball in 1968.
Read more about the DeWitt family at the link below from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Bo Weiss is following in his father’s baseball footsteps as a high school prep star in Aurora, Colorado. One of the top-rated high school pitchers in Colorado, Bo is the son of Walt Weiss, currently the manager of the Colorado Rockies.
Bo’s brother, Brody, was selected by the Rockies in the 22nd round of the 2013 MLB Draft, but chose to attend college instead.
Bo is likely to get strong consideration from major league clubs during this year’s draft, but he also has his eyes set on attending his father’s alma mater, University of North Carolina to play baseball.
Read more about the Weiss family at the link below from the Denver Post:
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.