The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
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Family Ties Still Flourishing in 2021

One of my special interests in baseball, going back about 30 years, has been the prevalence of relatives in professional baseball, including the majors and minors. My interests manifested itself in a book I authored in 2012, where I published my initial research efforts about baseball’s relatives. Appropriately, I titled the book “Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia about Baseball’s Relatives.” Since then, I have continued extensive research and documentation of the occurrences of family relationships in the sport, except it is now maintained in a database, with annual updates posted on my website “Baseball’s Relatives.”


There is no single source you can go to find all the family ties in baseball. There are several websites that provide lists of major-league players who are fathers, sons and brothers, but that’s about it. Several factors distinguished the information in my book from the other lists on these websites: 1) I not only included players, but also managers, coaches, scouts, executives, owners, front office personnel, broadcasters, and umpires who had relatives in baseball; 2) I also included minor-league players; 3) I included additional family relationships (uncle, nephew, cousin, grandson, etc.); 4) I included relatives who participated in non-baseball sports. The additional information I gathered resulted from reading baseball-related websites, books, magazines, and newspapers.


I thought I had a pretty comprehensive set of information in the Family Ties book. There were over 3,500 baseball personnel identified, covering all of the baseball roles. But I acknowledged in the book that my information was not exhaustive, if only for the reason that each new baseball season would bring in new players who had family relationship in the sport.


I just finished the 2021 season updates of my database.  I now have accumulated over 8,300 major-league and minor-league players, managers, coaches, scouts, executives, owners, front office personnel, broadcasters and umpires. All of these represent over 12,000 family relationships (father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, etc.) in baseball. There are another 1,400 family relationships with athletes in other major sports at various levels (amateur, college, professional, and Olympics).


For the past several years, most of my updates have been found in major-league team media guides. Most of the teams are pretty good at identifying in the bios of their players any relatives they have in baseball or another sport.


The 2021 season information can be viewed at https://baseballrelatives.wordpress.com/family-ties-2021-season/


Here are a few stats and interesting facts from the 2021 season:


 

  • 592 active major and minor league players have one or more relatives in pro baseball. That’s equates to about one in every seven players in the majors and minors combined.

 


 

  •  Those 592 players had 835 family relationships.

 


o   Nationals minor-leaguer Jake Boone and major-leaguer Vlad Guerrero each have six relatives. If Boone makes the majors, his family would become the first four-generation MLB family.


o   Minor-leaguer Trei Cruz has five family members in pro baseball. If he reaches the majors, the Cruz family would become only the sixth three-generation MLB family.


 

  •  648 active non-players have one or more relatives in pro baseball.

 


 

  •  Those 648 non-players had 1,180 relationships.

 


o   Jerry Hairston Jr. (Dodgers broadcaster) and Shawn Roof (Tigers minor-league manager) each have nine relatives in pro baseball.


o   Phillies executive Andy MacPhail has seven relatives, which includes four generations of front office personnel, going back to Larry MacPhail who began his career in the 1930s.


o   With more and more major-league and minor-league coaching and front office personnel being hired without playing experience, this category of relatives will likely decline over time.


 

  •  32 players with relatives made their MLB debut.

 


o   Reds pitcher Riley O’Brien is the grandson of former major-leaguer Johnny O’Brien, whose twin brother Eddie was also a major-leaguer.


o   Rays phenom Wander Franco has two brothers (both also named Wander) who played in the minors. They are nephews of retired MLB brothers Willy and Erick Aybar.


o   Brothers Trevor and Tylor Megill made their debuts with the Cubs and Mets, respectively.


 

  •  62 players with relatives made their minor-league debut

 


o   The last names of several of these rookie minor-leaguers are very familiar (Glavine, Kessinger, Niekro, Pettitte, and Boone).


 

  • 18 players with relatives were selected in the MLB Draft which consisted of 20 rounds. (In 2020 there were five rounds.) When here were 45 draft rounds in 2019, 77 players with relatives were drafted. There will be more of a shift toward undrafted free agent signings with limited rounds.

 


 

  • 362 players and non-players had relatives in other sports and levels. Below are some examples.

 


o   Royals manager Mike Matheny has four sons who played college baseball, one of which made it to the minors. His daughter played hockey in college.


o   Orioles second baseman Jahmai Jones’s father and three brothers played in the NFL.


o   Cubs outfielder Trayce Thompson’s father and two brothers played in the NBA.


 

  • By far, the San Francisco Giants had the most active players with relatives (31) and the most active non-players with relatives (41). It makes you wonder if this was by design (preference for hiring players and non-players with baseball in their bloodlines) or just a coincidence.

I envision a future trend in which we’ll see a reduction of family ties in baseball. The pipeline for new entrants is being reduced in several areas. There are now fewer draft rounds and fewer minor-league teams, which affects both the number of players and coaches. Many jobs in major- league front offices are being filled nowadays with personnel who did not play professional baseball. Scouting staffs are being reduced by many teams because of the availability of technology to evaluate players without seeing them in person.

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