Baseball lineage was on full display at last week’s MLB Draft, where a number of prospects with Major League bloodlines heard their names called. Even if none of them are able to match the Griffeys’ feat of playing together, they’re on their way to joining the long list of families with multiple generations of Major Leaguers.
Aside from inheriting their fathers’ athletic ability and growing up around Major League clubhouses, these players benefitted in other ways from their upbringings. Playing catch with Dad involved much more than just father-son bonding and practice throwing and catching, as their fathers could pass on their own baseball wisdom and coaching. As youngsters, they also got a first-hand tutorial on how the game is played from watching their fathers in action on the field.
A trio of Texan prospects with potential Hall of Fame fathers went in this year’s Draft. Roger Clemens’ son, Kacy, was picked by his hometown Astros. The Phillies took another promising Houston-area product with a Major League pedigree in Craig Biggio’s son, Cavan. And the Yankees drafted Josh Pettitte on the very same day his famous father won his 250th game.
Two other active players saw their sons drafted. Torri Hunter Jr. was drafted by the his father’s club, the Tigers. Meanwhile, as free agent Jamie Moyer plots his return to the mound at age 50, his son, Dillon, was picked by the Dodgers.
Former Major League shortstop and current Rockies manager Walt Weiss saw his organization draft his son, Brodie. According to the elder Weiss, Brodie’s mother will handle the negotiations with the club. Elsewhere, catcher Chad Wallach, son of former third baseman and current Dodgers coach Tim Wallach went in the fifth round to the Marlins.
It will be fascinating to watch these young players mature and develop, regardless of the paths they take. It’s yet another reminder of how the game is passed down from one generation to the next.
Each Father’s Day we show our appreciation for everything our fathers have done for us. We give symbolic gifts, as we know that actually paying Dad back for everything he has given us over the years is impossible. For many, an appreciation for the national pastime is an important part of their father’s legacy.
It starts from a young age, typically with a father sitting down with a child to explain a game on television, or in the stands at a Major League or Minor League game. The pace of the game is perfect for these teaching moments — initially rules, then fundamentals, and eventually strategy. Soon the teaching is happening in the stands at the ballpark, accompanied by a sundae in a miniature helmet. We learn to watch the game the way our fathers watch it.
The baseball education isn’t limited to discussion, as soon our fathers transition into the role of coach. This can be as simple as playing catch together in the back yard or practicing hitting in the park. As we grow, our fathers might lend a hand coaching our t-ball or Little League teams, or could simply lend support from the stands during games and advice afterward.
The vast majority of us transition to fandom over the years, but a select few get the opportunity to play on for a living. For a fan, it’s great seeing the son of a former player making his Major League debut. From father-and-son combinations like the Griffeys, who actually played together in the Mariners outfield, to three-generational Major League families like the Boones, there’s a lineage on the diamond as well in the seats.
I was looking around at possible Father’s Day gifts for my own Dad, and I noticed that Coach’s Heritage Baseball collection is designed with fathers and sons in mind and a good idea to share. Inspired by the sport that inspired Coach, it features eye-catching regulation gloves, colorful hand-dipped bats and wallets and baseball paperweights made with their iconic glove-tanned leather. So you could give Dad Color and Craft this Father’s Day, some luxury that combines his favorite tradition.
One of my favorite father-son memories of all-time happened on Aug. 31, 1990. Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. were in the same lineup for Seattle against Kansas City, and they became the first father and son combo to both play, hit and score in the same game. The next month, they would go on to hit back-to-back home runs. Junior would say later: “I got to play with my Dad. That’s the biggest thing to ever happen to me, other than the birth of my children.” Watch this from the MLB.com archives: