If baseball is a sport built on family and tradition, then nowhere is that more applicable than in the front office. On Father's Day, we'll look at five multi-generation baseball families who built rosters, balanced the books and helped make baseball the game we know today.
In 1930, Larry MacPhail entered the baseball world when he acquired an option in a Minor League baseball team in Columbus, Ohio. The savvy MacPhail then used that option to broker a sale of the team to Cardinals owner Branch Rickey -- renaming them the Columbus Red Birds in the process and entering the team into the Cardinals' farm system.
Rickey and MacPhail didn't quite get along, but the latter was so successful at running the Columbus club that, when the Reds' GM position opened up in 1934, Rickey suggested him for the role. MacPhail is pictured in Cincinnati's front office on the left below:
Thanks to MacPhail, night baseball was born when the Majors' first-ever night game was held on May 24, 1935 at the Reds' Crosley Field.
After leaving the Reds, for whom he helped build some of the roster that would win the 1939 and '40 pennants, MacPhail took over the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937. Thanks to his emphasis on night baseball to bring in the working class fans who couldn't make it to games in the afternoon, the Dodgers actually outdrew both the Yankees and Giants in 1939. He was even responsible for hiring the legendary Red Barber and Leo Durocher as he led the Dodgers to their first pennant in over 20 years in 1941.
Eventually, MacPhail's famed temper proved too much for the Dodgers to handle, and he was on the move again -- traveling across town to the Yankees to become their President in 1945.
Larry would soon be out of baseball, but not before helping his son, Lee, break into the sport as business manager of a Dodgers Minor League affiliate. Lee later joined his father in the Yankees organization and was kept on after the elder MacPhail resigned, working his way up to farm system director and helping the team win seven World Series titles during his tenure.
From there, he became the Orioles' GM, transforming the team into annual contenders, before returning to the Yankees. Though he wouldn't find as much success in his second stint, he became president of the American League in 1974. When he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998, he and Larry became the first father-son duo in the Hall.
Soon, they could have a three-generation family in Cooperstown: Lee's son, Andy, worked his way through the ranks for the Cubs, Astros and Twins' player development systems before taking over as the GM of the Twins in 1985. He presided over Minnesota's first-ever World Series title in 1987 and the even more remarkable worst-to-first 1991 Twins.
Moving on from Minnesota, he became president and CEO of the Cubs in 1994, then president of the Orioles in 2007, before signing on for his current gig as president of the Phillies.
Before the king of promotions, Bill Veeck, came along, there was his father: William Veeck Sr. The sportswriter-turned-Cubs President not only saw the Cubs win two pennants, in 1929 and '33, but was pretty keen at getting fans into the park, too. The elder Veeck held Ladies Day games, was a proponent of radio broadcasts while other owners were resistant and even pushed the idea of Interleague play over 60 years before it came into effect.
Of course, if you love the wacky promotions that now flood baseball schedules, that's thanks to his son. As the owner of the Indians, St. Louis Browns and White Sox, Bill Veeck Jr. was the man who provided the world with:
- Eddie Gaedel, the 3-foot-7 pinch-hitter with a career 1.000 OBP
- Disco Demolition night, which, well, didn't turn out so great
- Placards for fans to choose what the next managerial decision should be
- Harry Caray singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame
- The White Sox's glorious/terrible (depending on your point of view) shorts
Oh yeah, and he signed Larry Doby as the first African-American to play in the American League and signed Satchel Paige a year later.
His son, Mike Veeck, has continued that passion as the part-owner of five Minor League teams, including the independent St. Paul Saints. The Saints have since held promotions like a cat video festival, set the Guinness World Record for largest pillow fight and have had a judge and a jury of Little Leaguers replace the umpires for a night.
Yes, the spirit of the Veeck family lives on. Of course, there may soon be another Veeck in charge of a team: Mike's son, William "Night Train" Veeck is the "manager of fan engagement" with the White Sox.
Long before Cam Bonifay took over as GM of the Pirates in 1993, his father Bob Bonifay worked as a general manager in the South Atlantic League. Minor League GMs deal more closely with ticket sales, merchandise and between-innings entertainment than their Major League brethren, and the senior Bonifay excelled at these aspects of the job. He was hired to run six different South Atlantic League teams and inducted into to the SAL Hall of Fame.
His son, Cam, served as GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1993 to 2001, topping out at 78 wins in 1999 - the same year he acquired fan favorite Brian Giles. After stints with the Rays and Cardinals in scouting and player development, Cam is now a special assistant to the GM for the Reds.
There may be a third-generation Bonifay who could take over as a GM someday, too: Cam's son, Josh, made it a three-generation baseball family and is currently a Minor League hitting instructor for the Class A Greeneville Astros.
What follows is one of the most deeply connected family trees in baseball. Try and keep up:
Bob Quinn (actual name James Aloysius Robert "Bob" Quinn) started as the general manager of the Columbus Senators in the American Association, before leading the St. Louis Browns to respectability from 1917-22. From there, he rejuvenated the Red Sox as their owner (1923-33), before becoming the Brooklyn Dodgers' GM (1934-35) and, eventually, taking over the Boston Braves (1936-45). Even then, he wasn't done -- he went on to become the President of the Hall of Fame.
But the Quinn family was just getting started. You might want to get a pen and paper for this:
- Bob's son, John J. Quinn, took over the Braves after the eldest Quinn left, staying with the team during their move to Milwaukee. He then became the GM of the Phillies.
- His grandson, another Bob, was the GM of the Yankees, Reds and Giants between 1988-96.
- His great-great grandson, another Bob, is currently the Executive Vice President in Finance and Administration for the Brewers.
We're not quite done yet, though. Eldest Bob's granddaughter, Susan, worked in the Angels front office. Another granddaughter, Margo, married Roland Hemond -- and even if you don't know Roland's name, you're definitely familiar with his work.
Hemond was GM for the White Sox from 1970-85 and the Orioles from 1988-95, winning the Executive of the Year Award three times. He was just the second recipient of the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, the senior executive vice president for the D-backs from 1996-00 and the executive advisor for the White Sox from 2001-07. He was also one of the chief proponents of the Arizona Fall League.
Don't think the family ties end there: Roland's son Bob was a Minor League executive and team owner; another son, Jay, was the scouting director for the Marlins and appeared in "Field of Dreams."
Like I said, you need a family tree just to keep it all straight.
You probably know him as Jack McKeon, cigar aficionado and manager of the world champion 2003 Florida Marlins.
But before he guided the Fish to a title, he was Jack McKeon, general manager of the Padres. After managerial stints in Kansas City and Oakland, McKeon was hired as an assistant to GM Bob Fontaine in the winter of 1979 -- but San Diego stumbled out of the gate the next year, and after just six months in San Diego, McKeon was promoted to the big job.
He wouldn't disappoint: Over the next few years, the always-aggressive McKeon drafted Tony Gwynn, traded for Garry Templeton and signed Steve Garvey, Goose Gossage and Graig Nettles as free agents -- all players who would form the core of the squad that won the 1984 NL pennant. McKeon remained in the GM's chair until 1988, when the team fired manager Larry Bowa and McKeon moved down to the dugout.
McKeon remained a manager through stints with the Reds and Marlins, but that was just the beginning of his family's impact on MLB organizations. Jack's son, Kelly, served as a scout with the Padres under his dad, and he would sign a pitcher named Greg Booker ... who would eventually marry Jack's daughter, Kristi. In 1989, McKeon's Padres traded Booker to the Twins, which makes McKeon one of the only men to ever trade his son-in-law. No hard feelings, though: Booker eventually wound up as a pitching coach for the Syracuse Chiefs, Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals -- the same organization for which Jack's other son, Kasey, serves as director of player procurement.