Monday, June 22, 2009

Fathers and Sons in Baseball

Because of much craziness lately in several areas of life, I haven't had a chance to write for several days... But now I'm back...

In honor of Father's Day, I thought I'd offer some thoughts on fathers and sons that have become prominent through the game of baseball. I've included several different categories. Enjoy...

Father Was A Better Player Than the Son

-Yogi Berra over Dale Berra- These days, Yogi might be best known for his sayings, but he might well be the greatest catcher ever to play the game. Dale played 11 years in the Majors, but posted a mediocre .236 career average and gained notoriety as a part of the Pittsburgh drug trials.

-Gary Matthews over Gary Matthews, Jr.- Aside from one All-Star season in 2006, the elder Sarge has had the better Major League career, including being named MVP of the 1983 NLCS as the Phillies beat the Dodgers.

Son Was A Better Player Than the Father

-Barry Bonds over Bobby Bonds- Bobby Bonds was a dynamic player in his stint in the Majors from 1968-81. He played the outfield but possessed a game a bit like Jimmy Rollins or Jose Reyes, a guy that could hit for power, but also leg out a high number of triples and steal bases too. He was a .268 hitter with 332 home runs. His son, Barry, is one of the best players ever, with a MLB-record 762 home runs to accompany a .298 career batting average. Unlike the Griffeys, by most accounts the Bonds' have regularly handled themselves like classless jerks.

-Ken Griffey, Jr. over Ken Griffey- Ken Sr., like Bobby Bonds, was a very good player for a long time, serving as a key cog in the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s. He was a three-time all-star and retired with a .296 career average. But, like Bonds, his son is an all-timer. Junior is back in Seattle now, a 13-time all-star and one of only six players with over 600 career home runs. Unlike the Bonds', by most accounts the Griffeys are true gentlemen who treat all with respect and class.

Father and Son Could Argue And Might Both Be Right (father listed first)

-Cecil Fielder and Prince Fielder- Similar players, big, stocky (read: fat) first basemen who strike out and hit for power. Cecil hit 51 home runs for the Tigers in 1990 after a stint in Japan. Prince hit 50 bombs for the Brew Crew in 2007, and as of today is still only 25 years old. Time will tell who has the better career, but as of now, it's a push.

-Julian Javier and Stan Javier- Both average players who had nice, long big league careers. There are better examples, but I picked the Javiers because Stan is actually named for a great man that Julian played with, a gentleman you may have heard of, a fellow named Stan Musial. How good is that?

Father Was Famous For Something Else

-Longtime Major League first baseman J.T. Snow's father, Jack Snow, was a Pro Bowl wide receiver in the NFL from 1965-75 with the Los Angeles Rams

-1990s and 2000s utilityman David Newhan's father, Ross Newhan, is a Hall of Fame baseball columnist, writing for the Long Beach Press Telegram and the Los Angeles Times

Son Was Famous For Something Else

- Former All-Star outfielder Darryl Strawberry's son, DJ Strawberry, was a four-year letterwinner for the University of Maryland men's basketball team

-Former Mets and Phillies closer Tug McGraw's son, Tim McGraw, is a multi Grammy-award winning country singer

My Dad Was My Manager

-Brian McRae (Hal McRae, Royals, 1991-94, including one famous tirade)

-Cal and Billy Ripken (Cal, Sr, Orioles, 1987-88, the only manager to simultaneously manage two sons)

-Moises Alou (Felipe, Expos, 1992-96, Giants 2005-06)

My Dad Was My Teammate

-Ken Griffey, Jr.- (Played with father, Ken Griffey, Seattle, 1990-91) The Griffeys once hit back-to-back home runs on September 14th, 1990.

-Tim Raines, Jr.- (Played with father, Tim Raines, Baltimore, 2001)

Really? That Guy Is Old Enough to Have a Kid in Pro Ball?

-Doug Drabek- The 1990 NL Cy Young winner's son Kyle Drabek is a pitcher at Reading (AA) in the Phillies system, and may be the Phils top prospect.

-Lenny Dykstra- Crumbling financial empire aside, the Dude's younger son, Cutter Dykstra, is a right-handed version of the original in his first full-year in the Milwaukee system.

Broadcasting Fathers and Sons

-Marty and Thom Brennaman-Marty has been the voice of the Reds since 1974, earning induction into the Hall of Fame in 2000. Thom has been a broadcaster with the Diamondbacks, and then joined the Reds in time for the 2007 season to work alongside his father, and will eventually succeed him when Marty retires following the 2010 season.

-Jack Buck and Joe Buck- Both of the St. Louis Cardinals and national broadcasts, Jack may best be remembered for his "Go crazy" call after Ozzie Smith's walk-off home run to end the 1985 NLCS, while Joe is trying not to be remembered for Artie Lange.

-The Carays- Harry Caray is one of the most recognized and lampooned figures in American broadcasting history, and his thick glasses and out of tune renditions of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field remain visible symbols of his influence. Harry's son, Skip, was a broadcaster for the Braves from 1976 until his death in 2008. Skip's son, Chip, was a Fox Game of the Week broadcaster prior to his current role as a baseball play-by-play man on TBS.

-Harry Kalas and Todd Kalas- Harry the K, the longtime voice of the Phillies, passed away this April, but leaves behind a broadcasting legacy in the form of his eldest son Todd, a broadcaster for the Rays. Harry and Todd became the first father and son duo to broadcast a World Series together when their respective teams squared off in the Fall Classic in 2008.

Fathers and Sons in Baseball Movies

-The Sandlot- The tale of young boys growing up on baseball and dreams of a big world illustrates the important role that baseball has played in building the relationship of boys and their fathers. In this case, Smalls' relationship with his new step-dad swings from swiping and losing the Babe Ruth ball to continually building the relationship through the game and simply playing catch.

-Field of Dreams-The essence of the male tear-jerker, and the all-time favorite movie of countless men across America. If Ray Kinsella asking his father to have a catch doesn't get to you at least a little bit, you need to quit acting like you're such a tough guy.

...And One More...

-Congratulations to West Chester University head baseball coach Greg Mamula and wife, Melissa, on the near Father's Day birth of their second child. I got to know 'Mams' when we worked together with the University of Delaware baseball team in 2005-06. He's a good baseball coach and a good man.

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