MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Game's history rich with father-son combos

Game's history rich with father-son combos

Game's history rich with father-son combos
In this moment, I am remembering the pronounced ping of the ball punched by the aluminum bat, followed by the gruesome image of that ball beaning the forehead of my father, some 50 feet away.

We were in the open field behind the apartment complex he inhabited in suburban Kansas City. I was a Cleveland-born child of divorce visiting my dad, as I did for a couple weeks each summer. And while we didn't share a home or even a state, we did share a bond through baseball -- one that was tightened each time we'd go out to that field to play catch or stage an impromptu (and, as it would turn out, unsafe) round of batting practice.

Two thoughts quickly jolted through my 12-year-old brain as I saw my father fall to the ground in a heap.

1. Oh my God, I think I killed him.

2. Man, I crushed that pitch.

It was panic with a side of pride, and the latter emotion would, thankfully, win out when I'd rush to his side to find him not only living but laughing. His now-useless Chicago Cubs hat (he really liked that hat) was streaked with blood and he was nursing a sore noggin, but he didn't seem to care. He came to the same conclusion I did: I really did crush that pitch, and it somehow felt worth it.

Alas, the near-decapitation of my dad would be about the extent of my baseball-playing boasts. He passed down not only an appreciation for the sport but also the clumsy hands and slow feet that would make for a quick cessation to my career. Both of our big league dreams died somewhere on the Little League fields of Northeast Ohio.

Of course, there are quite a few fathers and sons who fare a bit better. For them, baseball dexterity is in the DNA, and their talents take them to the game's highest level.

According to baseball-almanac.com, more than 200 pairs of parents and progeny (including several families whose big league bloodlines stretched across three generations and fathers who produced multiple Major Leaguers) have made it to The Show. Many more combos are coming, as evidenced by last week's Draft, in which the sons of Ivan Rodriguez, Steve Garvey, Kevin Seitzer, Shawon Dunston, Dante Bichette, Dwight Smith and Tom Henke were all selected.

The attempt here, with Father's Day this Sunday landing on the 19th, is to pick out the best 19 father-son combos in Major League history. Full apologies go to those left off the list (including, but not limited to, Pete Rose Jr., who contributed just two hits to the 4,258 career hits between him and his old man).

Away we go ...

1. Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr.: We are in the midst of the first Major League season without a Griffey since 1973. The elder Griffey played 19 seasons, was a three-time All-Star and was a regular in the outfield for the "Big Red Machine." Junior never won a title in his 22 years in the bigs, but he'll settle for ranking fifth all time in home runs (630), making 13 All-Star appearances, winning the American League MVP Award in 1997 and likely reaching the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. In September 1990, the Griffeys gave us the game's greatest father-son moment, when they both homered in the same inning for the Seattle Mariners.

2. Bobby and Barry Bonds: Between the two, 1,094 home runs were hit and 975 bases were swiped. Barry, of course, owns the single-season (73) and career (762) home run records, but his career ended amid accusations of steroid use, and he was recently convicted of obstruction of justice.

3. Felipe and Moises Alou: Together, they logged more than 4,000 games in the Majors, and they each cracked the 2,000-hit plateau. Felipe, whose brothers Matty and Jesus also played in the bigs, won more than 1,000 games as a manager for the Expos and Giants.

4. Gus and Buddy Bell: Gus debuted with the Pirates in 1950 and went on to play in the outfield for four teams over 15 years, hitting 206 career home runs. Buddy played parts of 18 seasons, then managed in Detroit, Colorado and Kansas City. He's now the farm director for the White Sox. He had two sons, David and Mike, who also reached the Majors, so the Bell family had a player in uniform in the bigs for 45 years.

5. The Boones: This was the first three-generation family in Major League history, and there is no sense picking out a mere combo from the group, as Ray, Bob, Bret and Aaron Boone each spent more than a decade in the bigs and each attained All-Star status. Bob Boone caught the third-most games of any catcher in history and also managed parts of six seasons with the Royals and Reds.

6. The Alomars: Sandy Sr. played 15 seasons in the Majors and spent nearly 50 years in professional baseball. His two sons, Roberto and Sandy Jr., both debuted with the Padres in 1988. Roberto went on to notch 2,724 hits and 210 homers while playing an extraordinary second base to earn induction into the Hall of Fame this year, while Sandy was a six-time All-Star catcher and is now a well-respected coach for the Indians.

7. Tony and Eduardo Perez: Griffey wasn't the only "Big Red Machine" member who spawned a big league kid. Tony Perez's 23-year career included five trips to the World Series and earned him induction into the Hall of Fame. Eduardo played 13 seasons and was named the Marlins' new hitting coach last week.

8. Cecil and Prince Fielder: Cecil was known as "Big Daddy," and he begat an equally burly fellow first baseman who is now one of the premier sluggers in the National League. As of this writing, they've combined for 530 career home runs and have each led their league in home runs for a single season. As is well-documented, though, they are not on speaking terms.

9. Mel and Todd Stottlemyre: Mel spent 11 years with the Yankees, winning 164 games and posting a 2.97 ERA, 1,257 strikeouts and 152 complete games. Todd spent 14 years with the Blue Jays, A's, Cardinals, Rangers and D-backs, winning 138 games, with a 4.28 ERA and 1,587 strikeouts. Mel Stottlemyre Jr. also had a cup of coffee in the bigs.

10. Tito and Terry Francona: Tito spent 15 seasons in the big leagues and had a solid career in which he hit .272 with 125 home runs. Knee issues hounded Terry, who played just 708 games in the big leagues, but he went on to become one of the best managers in the game. He led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and '07 ... and yet everybody still calls him "Tito."

11. Gary Matthews Sr. and Jr.: The elder Matthews, known as "Sarge," hit 234 home runs and drove in 978 runs in 16 seasons with the Giants, Braves, Phillies, Cubs and Mariners. His son hit 108 homers and drove in 484 runs over 12 seasons, including a career year with the Rangers in 2006 that bought him a (regrettable) $50 million free-agent contract with the Angels. (Gary Jr. also hit the only home run ball I caught, which is a heck of a way to make this particular list.)

12. Hal and Brian McRae: Hal hit .290 over 19 seasons with the Reds and Royals, then went on to manage in Kansas City, where Brian made his debut in 1990. Brian played all or parts of 10 seasons, notching 1,336 career hits.

13. Yogi and Dale Berra: Yogi was a Hall of Fame catcher who went to the World Series 14 times as a player with the Yankees and twice as a manager (with the Yanks in 1964 and the Mets in '73). He didn't just produce his famous "Yogi-isms" but also a son, Dale, who played parts of 11 seasons in the big leagues.

14. The Hairstons: Sam Hairston played in the Negro Leagues and was the first American-born black player on the White Sox. His son, Jerry, spent 14 seasons in the Majors, predominantly with the Sox. Jerry has two sons currently in the Majors -- Jerry Jr., who is with the Nationals and closing in on 1,000 career hits, and Scott, who is with the Mets. Sam's other son, John, also played briefly in the bigs.

15. The Duncans: Dave spent parts of 11 seasons in the bigs as a catcher, then went on to become one of the game's most respected pitching coaches, with the White Sox, the A's and (currently) the Cardinals. His son, Chris, was a starter for the 2006 Cards team that won the World Series, and his other son, Shelley, has spent parts of the past five seasons with the Yankees and Indians.

16. Tony Gwynn Sr. and Jr.: The elder Gwynn's 3,141 hits are the 17th-most all time and earned him a 2007 induction into the Hall of Fame. He went on to coach at San Diego State, where he had his son for one year before Tony Jr. embarked on a pro career that now has him in his sixth Major League season. The younger Tony is known more for his speed and defense than his bat.

17. Gary and Daryle Ward: They're on this list primarily because they're the only father-son combo to hit for the cycle. Gary did it for the Twins on Sept. 18, 1980, and Daryle did it for the Pirates on May 26, 2004.

18. Jim Bagby Sr. and Jr.: The first combo in which both father and son pitched in the World Series -- Jim Sr. with the Indians in 1920 and Jim Jr. with the Red Sox in 1946. They combined for 224 career wins. The feat has since been repeated by the Stottlemyres and Pedro Borbon Sr. and Jr.

19. Doug and Kyle Drabek: Doug won 155 games with a 3.73 ERA and 1,594 strikeouts over 13 seasons with the Yankees, Pirates, Astros, White Sox and Orioles. He was the NL Cy Young Award winner in 1990 with the Buccos. Kyle was a celebrated prospect who has been uneven in his first big league exposure with the Blue Jays. But if he reaches his potential, then this duo will certainly rise up this list in a hurry.

Take issue with any father-son combos on or not on the list? Feel free to leave a comment, in lieu of beaning me in the head.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.