#177: Between Innings…Class of ’97

177.1  Compared to the NFL and NBA college drafts, the baseball amateur draft is hopelessly dull…because the systems of player development are so different. For football and basketball, a lot of kids out of college are ready-to-go…some can make a significant impact in their first pro season. With baseball, it’s a mix of high school and college players…many of the former choose to go to college and are later drafted by a different team…with the latter, many collegiate stars still need some seasoning in the minors before they join the Big Club.

177.2  So unless there are some really promising picks, about the only way to make this into a news story is to cherry-pick a small group of draftees with something in common: they are related to current or former major leaguers. I came across a clipping I saved from the June 1997 draft…and thought it would be interesting to see what happened to these “famous names”…they are summarized below.

class of 97

177.3  You’ll notice the older relatives are all reasonably well known and successful players. There were 1607 picks that year…yes, all on-line!…and I’m sure some of those sons and nephews had “cup-of-coffee” dads. But no, I wasn’t tempted to go thru the whole list…if I missed the fun of finding Joe Shlabotnik’s son Alexandrew, so be it. The first in the article and on my list is the most interesting, so I’m saving him for last…

{2}  Felipe Alou Jr. …When exposed to Anglo customs, there is often some adaptation among non-Anglos. Traditionally, Spanish fathers and sons with the same names were not literally designated Senior/Junior. If a father shared all his given names with his son, they would still have a different matronymic surname, so they could be distinguished by the use of their full legal names…as outlined last week. In everyday situations, they could be called “father” and “son”…as Jose padre and Jose hijo. Or with full names, abbreviated as Jose Jimenez p. and Jose Jimenez h. 

But even in English, the use of Sr., Jr., II, III, etc. is left up to the family…there are no firm rules in place, despite what you might think. And while father Joseph Paul Blow and son Joseph Jacob Blow don’t have the same exact name…when both are known around town as Joe Blow, adding Sr. and Jr. makes perfect sense. That’s what happened to George Walker Bush, whose father is George Herman Walker Bush…both were called George Bush, thus the son was nicknamed “Junior” as a child. Early on as an adult, he was sometimes given “Jr.” in print…as he became more famous, that disappeared, with the middle initials doing the work of distinguishing him from his pop.

Now there is an organization in Spain called the Real Academia Española  or RAE…the Royal Spanish Academy…whose mission it is to safeguard the purity of the language and police its usage, at least in public. This body is associated with some 20 branches worldwide, but among New World Hispanophones, except for the straggling diehards, such fussy efforts are ignored. They embrace linguistic fads and fancies as enthusiastically as do their Anglophone neighbors. Thus among Felipe Alou’s 11 children from 4 wives, we find 3 Felipe Jr.’s…each, including their father, have a different second surname…and the one drafted in 1997 is actually Felipe Jose, but there you go. Mel Rojas’ son is Mel Jr., Jesus Alou’s son is Jesus Jr., etc.

I only wish we could return the favor, and replace first cousin once removed ascending with second uncle…and first cousin once removed descending with second nephew…from the Spanish tio segundo and sobrino segundo. And we actually see such usage in English, but it’s exceedingly sporadic…we need to get organized on this!

Felipe Alou Jr. II, if I may call him that, is of course Moises’ half-brother, not brother. He played several years with the Royals organization, batting just .219 at AAA in 2001, then closing out his playing career with the short-lived Canadian Baseball League in 2003. We see him below as Baltimore’s coordinator of baseball operations in the D.R., a post he held for several years.

inset 1

{3}  Greg Bochy…Drafted as a pitcher, converted to a third baseman, but neither panned out. Never made it out of A ball, with an average of just .176…pitched 25 innings, no record, 2.88 ERA. Younger brother Brett currently a pitcher with the Giants at AAA. Couldn’t find a picture, so instead we see the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League, with which he spent most of his time….both the bland logo when he played with them in 2003-4…and their snazzy logo today, which is supposed to be a Sasquatch…let’s see the Federales cancel the trademark on that one…I mean, he’s eating a poor defenseless tree, right?

{4}  Rick Bell…The Bells and the Boones, along with the Colemans and the Hairstons, are the only 3-generation baseball families to date…more coming down the pike I’m sure, but for now that’s it. Buddy’s son Rick is the brother of major leaguers David (12 years) and Mike (19 games)…the closest he got to organized ball was half a season in the Mexican League…the rest of his 7 years of pro ball spent playing in independent leagues…sort of the minor leagues’ minor leagues.

inset 2

{5}  Matt Boone…Expanding Ole Dan’l’s cadre of baseball scions, Matt stuck around the sticks for 7 seasons, batting .243. Uncle Rod had an equally undistinguished 4-year minor league career in the 1970s. Still, they were professionals, duly noted! But think back to the heady days of the baseball card boom…when you didn’t have to make the Majors to get yourself on a piece of pasteboard…witness Bowman’s Draft Picks and Prospects set from 2000….”prospect” defined as a player having a pulse. BTW, Bowman was a gum company founded in 1927. They got the jump on baseball cards in the late 1940s, but were soon overtaken by Topps, natch. By the time Bowman returned in 2000, Topps owned the name…just an excuse to put out even more sets…which are practically worthless today, but who knew?

inset 2.5

{6}  Anthony Valentine…This turned out to the the toughest nut to crack…in fact, I ended up doing everybody else, then came back to him. Found an Anthony Robert Valentine who played in inset 2.75the low minors for the Mets 1997-1998…96 games, batted .235. He was born in 1975, Stamford Connecticut…Bobby was born there in 1951. Then I found Anthony Valentine (top, right) on LinkedIn…Darien CT High School class of ’93, football and baseball…B.S. in kinesiology from University of New Hampshire…minor leaguer for the Mets, then their Major League bullpen catcher for spell…formerly managed Bobby Valentine’s Sports Gallery Cafe in Stamford. All seemed to be falling into place…except

Bobby Valentine married Ralph Branca’s daughter Mary in 1977…yes, the Ralph Branca who served up Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”…and everybody, from Uncle WIki on down, says they have just one child, Bobby Jr., born in 1985. Sure, Anthony’s middle name is Robert, but the dates weren’t matching up. So I did the only thing I could do…googled “Bobby Valentine” and “nephew”…first site, a guy reminiscing about how he thinks he may have played baseball against Bobby Valentine’s nephew who went to Darien High, but he could never pin it down. Next site, an article from 1999, about Katzuhiro Sasaki, a Japanese relief pitcher imported by the Mets (he eventually played 4 mediocre seasons with the Mariners) and how he was warming up with their bullpen catcher, “Bobby Valentine’s nephew Anthony”…bingo!

And Bobby has an older brother Joe Valentine who runs a machine company in Stamford…haven’t linked up Joe and Tony yet, but I’m satisfied…our Anthony Valentine is Bobby Valentine’s nephew, not son…and the only one this article got wrong. But gosh, they do kinda look alike… 

{7}  Jason Fingers…One of the few in this group I actually remember hearing about…probably because he was drafted out of high school by my team, the Red Sox. He elected to attend college instead and was eventually picked by the Royals out of Arizona State. Spent 3 lackluster seasons in the low minors…record of 2-8, 3.79 ERA. What, no ‘stache?

inset 3{8}  Russ Chambliss…4 seasons in the lower minors and independent ball…still in the game, coaching at the college level. Baseball really is one of those skills where some guys can teach it better than they can do it. And Chris Chambliss’ connection to the late actor Carroll O’Connor? One’s first name is Carroll, the other’s isn’t….that’s Carroll Christopher Chambliss and John Carroll O’Connor.

inset 4{9}  Chad Durham…Brother Ray (top, left), older by 7 years, played 14 solid years at second base, twice an All-Star…one of those names, no offense, that sneaks onto the Hall of Fame ballot just so they can finish off the page. Nuthin’ much cookin’ with Chad (top, center)…4 seasons in the White Sox and Reds’ organizations, never higher than AA, .268 and out.

{10}  Jeff Nettles…Some kind of a “Love of the Game” award needed here for Craig’s son Jeff, 15 years in there hacking away. First 5 years, rose thru the Yankees system to AAA, but never got the call. Then embarked on a 10-year skein with the Somerset Patriots out of Bridgeport NJ in the independent Atlantic League…207 career home  runs, all but 60 of them with the indy league…in fact, set the league’s career HR record. Comeback attempt with Baltimore’s AA club in 2008…batted .253 with 24 dingers but at age 29, too little, too late. Versatile as hell…at one time or another played every defensive position, including one game as catcher with Columbus in 2002.

{11}  Lance Niekro…Son of one, nephew of the other…and at last, somebody who made it to “The Show”…albeit just 195 games at first base for the Giants, spread out of 4 seasons, 17 homers, .246…

{12}  Justin Singleton…7 campaigns in the Toronto organization…stalled at AAA in 2006…closed it out with one year in the independent Atlantic League, batting .244, which at that level is the equivalent of a Major Leaguer hitting something like .027.

{1}  Jason Shuck…They say “great nephew,” I say “grand nephew”…either way, it inset 5means that one of Jason’s grandparents was a sibling of Mickey Mantle. Now the Mick had 3 brothers…it would have to be thru one of their daughters, since a son would have passed the Mantle name on down to Jason. Mickey also had one sister Barbara, right. If she’s the grandparent, it could be thru her son or daughter. A lot of potential digging staring us in the face, but we got lucky…Barbara Mantle married Larry Shuck, December 1955, in Commerce OK…Jason was born in Midwest City, OK…close enough for me, even without specifically identifying his father.  Jason spent 1997-98 at the Mets’ Rookie and A levels, .270, no homers, 24 RBIs over 74 games, shortstop and outfield. And I notice there’s a J.B. (Jack Burdett) Shuck currently up with the Los Anaheim Angels…but he was born in Ohio, and no kin that I can see.

177.4  More next week…and caution: today’s wicked ballsy for mature audiences only…

wicked ballsy


Is it politically correct these days to call somebody a “drag queen”? Do I even care? Kelly Mantle is the son of Micky’s baby brother Butch. I wouldn’t mind, but let me quote from his website: “Kelly grew up in Oklahoma like her [sic] uncle, the late great Mickey Mantle. Yep…Kelly’s a switch-hitter too.”  Well, alrighty then.


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved




#176: What’s on Second

176.1  The Alou baseball dynasty…Felipe, Matty, Jesus, and Moises…deserve a blog all to themselves, and this is it. But first, we must address the fact that their last name is not Alou! In Spanish, you have 2 surnames…one from your father and one from your mother. Then again, each of your parents also has 2 surnames, so what you get is your father’s first surname and your mother’s first surname…you end up named after your 2 grandfathers’ paternal lines.

176.2  The brothers were born in the Dominican Republic…their father, a blacksmith, was black…Jose Altagracia Rojas, nicknamed Don Abundio…the Abundant One. Yes, in the Anglo press and on the Anglo internet, the second surname is sometimes left off…altho I found 4 sites in Spanish that also give no hint of a second surname, so that’s a mystery. I can tell you that Altagracia is a given name…for both sexes…but Hispanic given names can be used as last names, altho more commonly there’s an “ez” suffix indicating “son of.” Altagracia had better not be his first surname…that would open a whole other can of worms, nez pah?

176.3  Jose married a white woman of Spanish descent, Virginia Alou Reynoso…thus their sons are Felipe, Mateo, and Jesus Rojas Alou. That’s their full legal name…in their home country they are known as Felipe, Mateo, and Jesus Rojas. When the eldest Felipe signed with the NY Giants in 1955, somebody got his last name wrong, and he didn’t feel it his place to correct it. His brothers and son Moises followed suit… even tho Moises’ last name is Rojas Beltre, from his parents. BTW, sometimes you will see their mother called Virginia Alou de Rojas…if she cares to, a married woman can replace her second surname with her husband’s first surname. And permit me to correct 3 misconceptions about the name Alou. First, it’s pronounced a-loe  not a-loo…rhymes with Joe, not Jew.

176.4  Second, the Alous are not the only players to be mistakenly known by their matronymic surname. Baseball-research.com, which in my experience tends to get its facts pretty much straight, lists around 40 Latin players who appear to have played under their mother’s name. I say appear because it can get complicated. Beginning in the 1500s, the custom emerged of connecting the 2 surnames with “y” which isinset 0 Spanish for “and.” Thus on I Love Lucy, Ricky’s full name is Enrique Alberto Fernando Ricardo y Acha, sort of a paste-up of his real name Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III…and that’s where the IV comes from, right. This convention isn’t used much anymore…I mention it only because it came in handy when somebody’s surname, patronymic or matronymic, was itself composed of 2 names, which could happen…you could be Pablo Pizarro Cortez y Balboa…Pizarro Cortez from your father, Balboa from your mother. Further,  single-word surnames would occasionally get reversed and stay that way…today you can do that legally in some countries as a nod to equal gender rights. So checking out what’s what with those other “mama’s boys” (no offense intended, please!) is a project for another day.

176.5  But third, and this is most important: everywhere you look, they say the person who turned Felipe Rojas into Felipe Alou was the scout who signed him…some helpful folks go on to explain that this scout didn’t understand Hispanic naming customs. Trouble is, if people bothered to find out who that scout was, they’d discover it was Horacio Martinez, one of the first Dominican players in the Negro Leagues and a member of the Latin American Baseball Hall of Fame…makes sense having a native Dominican scouting the island players, no? He also signed Manny Mota, Juan Marichal, a host of others. So I’d say the mistake must have occurred further down the line in the Giants front office. Or perhaps he simply got the name wrong, thinking it was Alou Rojas…I wonder if anybody knows for sure?chart 624 176.6  As to the dynasty, Chart 624 shows all the professional ball-players in the immediate family. Mel Rojas pitched for 8 seasons in the 1990s, with a record of 34-31…he is often called the brothers’ nephew and Moises’ cousin, but as you can see that would be half-nephew and half-1st cousin. Before Virginia, Jose was married and had 2 children…his first wife is said to have died young. A very informative article “The Alou Legacy” in Sports Illustrated, June 19, 1995, by Michael Farber says: “[her] name was not known by most of his [Jose’s] family.” Too bad Farber didn’t speak to any of the ones that did know. Mel’s half-brother had a brief minor league career, as did Moises’ brother and half-brother. Mel’s son Mel Jr. is currently an outfielder with the Pirates at  AAA and doing quite well…might be seeing him in the Bigs soon…he hit a homer during spring training against the Yankees. inset 1 176.7  Since the three brothers all came up as outfielders with the Giants…Felipe in 1958, Matty in 1960, and Jesus in 1963…it is often wondered if they ever played in the outfield together. The answer is yes…in 3 games in September of 1963…altho only in the late innings, since only Felipe was a starter at the time…they were also in 5 other games together, Matty and Jesus as pinch-hitters. In fact, in Jesus’ first major league at bat, Sept. 10, 1963,  he and Matty both pinch-hit ahead of Felipe in the 8th inning…and all 3 Alous were retired by Mets pitcher Carlton Willey. But that month was their only time together, the only 3 brothers on the same team in the 20th century, the so-called “Modern Era.” Felipe was traded to Atlanta the following spring…he and Matty were reunited briefly with the Yankees in 1973. Oddly enough, for 5 years the Oakland A’s had an Alou on their roster, but just one at a time…Felipe 1970-71, Matty 1972, and Jesus 1973-74. I might also mention, the only brothers to finish 1-2 in batting average, 1966…Matty with Pittsburgh .342 and Felipe with Atlanta .327…his his teammate and countryman Rico Carty right on his heels at .326.

176.8  But here’s the thing…as famous as the Alou family is, their trail along the internet is strangely spotty…everybody agrees that Jose and Virginia had 6 children…but their exact identities are inconsistent. To give you a taste of it, I will cite 3 very credible sources…(1) the SABR biographies for Felipe and Jesus (Matty’s doesn’t mention the non-playing siblings)…(2) a detailed article on the family written in Spanish posted in 2004 on the website of Hoy, a Dominican newspaper…and (3) the obituary of Matty Alou in the New York Times, Nov. 3, 2011. Now all 3 say that Felipe, Mateo, and Jesus have a sister named Virginia after their mother…it’s the other 2 that are up for grabs. (1) says they are Juan and Maria. (2) says they are Juan and Francisco…they are mistaking the half-brother for a full brother. (3) says they are Jose and Zula…the Associated Press obit, with input from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, also says Jose and Zula…but only the Times points out that Jose went on to become a civil engineer. Do they mean Juan? Could Maria be Zula? Good questions, sez me. I took my best shot with Chart 624 and for now I’m sticking with it. inset 2

176.9  And a note on Jesus Maria Alou…it’s common in Spanish to name a boy after  “Jesus and Mary”…or “Joseph and Mary”…heck, there was even an Italian actor named Gian [John] Maria Volonté. There have been many Latin players named Jesus since, but Jesus Alou was the first. The Giants front office was concerned, supposedly pow-wowed with religious authorities, and were advised to come up with a nickname…which they did…Jay Alou. Needless to say, it didn’t stick…even Topps on their rookie card felt comfortable with Jesus…after all, it’s hay-SOOS, not JEE-sus. And if you want to get technical about it, Joshua derives from the Hebrew name Yehoshua, transliterated into Greek as Jesus…and nobody in our culture has a beef with Joshua. Funny tho, he could have been Chuy Alou…that’s pronounced “chewy”…a common nickname for a lad named Jesus, along with Chucho.

176.10  But you know what they say…in for a penny, in for a pound…so while I was at it, I figured I’d sketch out the rest of Don Abundio’s abundant grandchildren, starting with the 11 from Felipe’s 4 marriages.

chart 625

You’ll notice that in Chart 625, I haven’t included the offspring’s double surnames…I do know that from wife #1 they are Rojas Beltre and from wife #3 they are Rojas Brens. No clue for the American and French Canadian wives. But it appears all the boys in the family have baseball in their blood…Luis Rojas Brens never played in the majors or minors, but by his early 20s was a coach and instructor with professional teams in the D.R. The first of the 3 Felipe Jr.’s was a promising high school player until his tragic death in 1976 by drowning. And I should mention that Moises did not grow up with his dad…Felipe and Maria divorced with he was 2…father and son actually became closer as adults.chart 626 176.11  As to the rest…the Sports Illustrated article from 20 years ago mentioned thatinset 3
Jesus Jr. …yes, nicknamed Jay!…had graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, intending to go on to medical school…but first a stop at the Montreal Expo’s minor league camp. It seems nothing came of that…and I can find no trace on the net of a Dr. Jesus Alou. Interesting tho, in one of the obituaries for Matty, Jesus Jr. is quoted about his uncle having a pacemaker…so perhaps that worked out after all. His last name is Rojas Hanley…all 5 siblings were born and raised in the D.R. As to the Alous’ half-brother Francisco, his 2 baseball-playing sons are said be brothers, but with different maternal surnames…Medrano and Santana…I assume that’s half-brothers.

  Beyond the immediate family, at least one “cousin” pops up…Jose Sosa, who pitched briefly for the Houston Astros in the mid-1970s. As you can see below, either his second surname is routinely omitted, or his mother was a Sosa and his father an Ynocencio. Sadly, I consulted 2 old-style reference books (off-line!) and while they both believe that Jose is his sole given name, they disagree on which surname is which.
inset 4176.13  Notice also that estimates of his relationship to the Alous are typically loosy-goosy…”cousin” to both a father and his son?…and they don’t even try to figure it out for Mel Rojas Sr., which is probably just as well, sez me. Assuming Jose is a 1st cousin to the Alou brothers, Mel and Jose would be in the neighborhood of half-1st cousins once removed. But then is he a 1st cousin? If there is indeed a pair of siblings amongst the 4 parents, Jose’s name should have either a Rojas or an Alou in there somewhere…that’s the beauty of the double surname system, after all…and it appears it does not.  Time for me to hit the showers, till next time…

wicked ballsy

wb This one gave me a laugh for sure! I believe it was just this type of goofitude for which “WTF” was invented… 😉 😉


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#175: Who’s on First

175.1  Were I writing a book, or even a newspaper column, I would make sure my “facts” were nailed down solid. With a blog, I can tolerate some loose ends…because it’s so easy to go back and make corrections and updates. What’s more, that’s sort of the point of a blog…you’re sharing your interests with others, both for their enlightenment and yours, because they may be able to further your knowledge with some of their own. Thus, as we embark on a series on the Boys of Summer, genealogical fungoes from the world of baseball, there may be holes in my research here and there. Fine…they’ll get plugged eventually…I hope!

re 2

175.2  Basically, I’ll just be grabbing random connections as I find them and checking them out. And as a warm-up, we’ll revisit a couple I’ve done recently. In Related How Again? #161, I mentioned that Uncle Wiki’s list of married cousins credits Zack Wheat with marrying his “2nd cousin” Daisy Forsman. Chart 569 says otherwise…they were 1st cousins once removed, she being the daughter of his 1st cousin.

re 1

175.3  Then there are the 2 Boone dynasties…2 brothers on the one hand, a grandfather, father, and 2 sons on the other. They cropped up in Related How Again? #134, as we were investigating the relationship of Richard “Paladin” Boone and Pat Boone to Daniel Boone… and just to review, Richard is a 4G grand nephew…Pat has no connection as far as anyone can tell. But from Chart 468, we see that Ray was Daniel’s direct descendant, 4G grandson…and Ike was Daniel’s 2G grand nephew…Ray to Ike, 4th cousins twice removed.

175.4  And a word about “family dynasties” in baseball…many researchers limit this to major leaguers, and that is their privilege. Me, I cast my net more broadly to include minor leaguers as well…I’m counting all professional ballplayers, who got paid to do this for a living. I found a site that also took that tack and one they mentioned was the Mantle Dynasty…I have long known of this clan and it was about time to see what was what.

inset 1

175.5  No problem with Mickey and his brothers. He was the oldest of 5 children, 4 of them boys. And no mystery how he came to be a switch-hitter…Grampa Charlie was left-handed and threw to him that way…his father Mutt was right-handed. Identical twins Roy Dean and Ray Dale were 4 years younger than the Mick and neither were switch-hitters…oddly enough one was a righty, the other a lefty. Both were signed by the Yankees and had brief careers in the lower minors. As you can see above, their signing was a pretty big deal in the newspapers…and stories always mentioned the how the baby of the family, Larry (above, right) a.k.a. “Butch,” was determined to also follow in his famous brother’s footsteps. Instead, he found success in college playing basketball, and spent his life coaching basketball and football at both the high school and college levels.

mm jr175.6  Of Mickey’s 4 sons, only the eldest played pro ball, Mickey Mantle Jr., who died in 2000 at age 47. He followed in his twin uncles’ footsteps, with several truly dismal seasons in the low minors in the late 1970s…again, accompanied by tremendous press coverage, which apparently didn’t help. Incidentally, he probably wasn’t a true junior…one source gives his middle initial as E., and if that stands for Elvin, from his grandfather, that wouldn’t surprise me in the least. And you’ve probably heard this before, but in case you haven’t: Mickey Sr. was not a Michael…he was named after this father’s favorite player, Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane. The Mick once remarked how he was glad his dad didn’t know Cochrane’s real first name was Gordon, no offense to you Gordons out there!

175.7   But there were 2 Mantles that needed checking…and one was easy, “cousin” Max Mantle…signed by the Yankees in 1954 after playing several years in an amateur industrial league…where, according to one newspaper report, he batted .866 (Really?) He was assigned to the McAlester Rockets of the Class D Sooner State League…records show “Maxie” Mantle indeed batted .234 that year, and looks like it was one and done for him. Anyway, he’s Mickey’s 1st cousin, and it was smooth sailing once I realized that Mickey’s uncle is more often referenced by his nickname “Tunney” than his given name Eugene.

175.8  The one I suspected as being misidentified was “3rd cousin” Ryan Mantle. Drafted by the Giants in 2008…to great fanfare, what else is new…he played 3 nondescript seasons in the minors and is now out of baseball. But that’s what everyone said…Mickey’s 3rd cousin. Look at the years of birth in Chart 620. Is it possible for 3rd cousins, who by definition are of the same generation, to be born 55 years apart?

chart 620

175.9  Yes…possible, but not likely. Taking a generation as 25 years, you’d more expect Mickey and Ryan to be genealogically separated by 2 generations, and so they are: 2nd cousins twice removed. But it makes me wonder how the media comes up with these relationships…perhaps they simply ask the person involved or the family, and go with whatever they’re told.You would think if anyone could get it right, the family itself could, but that’s often not the case. So how is Mickey’s 2nd cousin Marvin Sr.’s grandson thought to be Mickey’s 3rd cousin? What about Marvin Jr.? Is he Mickey’s 2½th cousin? Well, maybe Marvin Sr. was abbreviated from “2nd cousin” to simply “cousin”…making Marvin Jr. a 2nd cousin and Ryan a 3rd cousin, as if Marvin Sr. were a 1st cousin. But then why aren’t Marvin Jr. and Ryan simply “cousins” as well? Typical of the type of gobbledegook you get when, with all due respect, people haven’t the foggiest idea what they’re talking about.

175.10  Next, another Hall of Famer, Johnny “The Big Cat” Mize…and we have a inset 2couple on him: he’s said to be Babe Ruth’s “cousin” and Ty Cobb’s “distant cousin.” Now with the Bambino, it’s thru marriage…Mize is presumably related to Ruth’s second wife, Claire/Clara Mae Merritt, whose first husband was Frank Bishop Hodgson. I say presumably because there is a hole in Chart 621…Clairie’s material grandparents are still, to me, in hiding…everyone else was easy to find, so that’s strange. Her paternal grandfather was obviously a Riley, which matches Mize’s paternal grandmother Emma Riley…but how these 2 Rileys are related, if at all, is the question…if siblings, Mize and Ruth would be 2nd cousins-in-law. And if the Rileys aren’t related, we would look to Claire’s maternal grandmother, who could be a Mize, Loudermilk, or Brown, and we’d still have 2nd cousins.

chart 621

175.11  This is a good time to remind you that when searching thru 2 individuals’ pedigrees, finding the same surname is usually where they’re related, but not always. And even if they are related thru that shared surname, the further back it is, the chances increase that there may be more connections thru other families.  I like to give examples from “The Andy Griffith Show,” since practically everyone is familiar with the characters. And here, the relevant parties are Gomer and Goober Pyle. They are said on the show to be cousins, and we take that as 1st cousins, since there is no evidence to the contrary.

175.12  The normal assumption for 1st cousins with the same last name is their fathers are brothers. Fair enough…very likely…but still, we don’t know that for an absolute certainty. Their mothers could have been sisters and married  2 unrelated men named Pyle…and when I say that, I acknowledge that “unrelated” could mean 5th cousins, something like that. That’s the general caution…in this specific case, what makes it interesting is that the first time we hear Goober’s last name…Andy is introducing him to somebody…it’s Beasley. After that, it’s Pyle for the duration. And given that there are several other Beasleys in Mayberry, this is a Fan Logic Game tangle just begging to be sorted out…someday, dear friends.

chart 622

175.13  As to Johnny Mize and Ty Cobb, I’ve seen it said they were “distant cousins”…and some folks who like to live dangerously actually specify “2nd cousins.” As you can see in Chart 622, each does have a Mize in their grandparents’ generations…trouble is, Francis Mize and Sicily Mize were not siblings, nor were their fathers, so we must push it back further. Parenthetically, do you suppose they say “2nd cousins” because they think that is what “distant cousins” means? Sounds par for the course.. At any rate, Chart 623  was assembled by comparing numerous Mize, Cobb, and other family trees…and it gives Johnny Mize and Ty Cobb as 4th cousins once removed…yeah, that’s distant!

chart 623

175.14  True, I did encounter a few lone voices crying in the wilderness…one asserts that Henry Thomas…known as “H.T.”…was not the son of Jeremiah Sr., but the son of Jeremiah Sr.’s son Joshua by his first wife…making Mize and Cobb half-4th cousins twice removed. Another claims Jeremiah Sr. and Joshua were not father and son, but brothers…resulting in 5th cousins once removed. But I believe Chart 623 is correct, except for one nagging point…a few genealogies do not list H.T. among Jeremiah Sr.’s sons, neither by his first wife Grace, last name unknown, nor his second wife Tabitha Edmunds, Jeremiah Jr.’s mother. But most do, and this is confirmed by an article concerning the history of Lunenburg County, Virginia published in the Atlanta Journal, Feb 27, 1921…which adds its own interesting twist.

inset 3

175.15  Because of this adoption, it might appear that Thomas was actually H.T.’s son and Williamson’s brother, in which case Johnny Mize and Ty Cobb would then be 3rd cousins once removed. But they’re not…and I’m pretty damned sure of it! Still, I wonder if the Sabermetrics crowd could weight in on this? Next week, second inning…

wicked ballsy


Here’s something perhaps you didn’t know: Ty Cobb’s mother killed his father. The whole story is pretty fascinating, really. Ty’s father William Herschel Cobb was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Georgia when he married one of his pupils, Amanda Chitwood. He was 20, she was 12…Lord knows what went on behind closed doors…suffice to say she gave birth to their first child, Tyrus Raymond, when she was 15. His father would go on to become school superintendent, state senator, then a newspaper publisher. By the time Ty had left home to play ball professionally, his mother had been married 22 years altho still a youthful 34 years of age. Suspecting her of infidelity, William feigned an overnight trip, snuck back to the house, up the second floor balcony, and was shot dead by his wife as he crept past the darkened bedroom window.

Legend has it it was a shotgun, but court records clearly state it was a pistol…one he had bought her for protection…never mind that at the time of his death, he was also armed with a handgun. And based on these bare facts, it seems strange that it went to trial, but it did…probably because he was so well-liked in the community. In the end, she was acquitted. 3 weeks after the death of his father, Ty Cobb made his debut in center field for the Detroit Tigers.

TBT, as a kid I had Ty Cobb as the greatest baseball player…I tended to side with the underdog and perceived him as such in the argument with Ruth. Today, I give the nod to Ruth but it’s tough because they represented diametrically opposed philosophies of the game. Cobb naturally hated the long-ball approach, but the game was, even back them, inexorably headed in that direction. And who was the only player to ever hit over 50 homers and strike out less than 50 times in a season? Johnny Mize, NY Giants, 1947…now there’s something we’re unlikely to ever see again, sez me.


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


#174 SH*CK*NG

WARNING: $2,000 fine, 5 years imprisonment, or both for any person interfering with the access of any other person to the vital and correct information contained in this blog. TTT. 188 U. S. Internet Code 691-55a.

174.1  I adapted the above from the envelope of a solicitation I received for life insurance….ooooh, I’m so scared! But anyway, there’s something I’m noticing on the internet, and it’s creeping into the dead-tree media too…that’s newspapers and magazines…made of paper, right? Everything is shocking! And this is intended as a positive thing…after all, a headline is meant to entice you into read the accompanying story…and if it’s going to shock you, well, that would hardly work if it caused people to not read the story. Still, who decided that people want to be shocked in the first place…I don’t, do you? Do you want to be appalled, horrified, disgusted, nauseated? Would you read an article that promised to make you puke? Not me, brother…morbid curiosity only goes so far, and I find as I get older, I have less of it, go figure. I suppose in 63 years I’ve had my fill of mutilated corpses, insane sex crimes, etc., etc. Heck, that’s why I don’t watch hardly any current TV shows…whew!

174.2  At the same time, I thought it might be fun to apply this mentality to kinship and genealogy, and write an article about some shocking bits of it. OK, shocking in the sense of surprising, hard to believe, didn’t see that coming. Nothing here today should make a normal, well-adjusted adult blanche or be grossed out…and if it does, you’re not thinking straight and ought to take a little time to yourself to get your moorings…find a nice quiet spot…maybe a steaming cup of tea…God, I hate tea…lady once asked me: Do you want anything in it?…and I said: Yeah, how about some coffee in it?…story of my life, I guess. Anyway, let’s dive in…

174.3  What’s Your Daddy?…I’ll admit, this still seems a bit amazing when I think of it, but it’s completely true: If your father is an identical twin, you are as closely related to him as you are to your uncle, his brother. Same with mothers, obviously. This is not to say that identical twins have absolutely identical DNA…with over 25,000 genes, there’s bound to be a hiccup here and there. But the astonishing degree to which identicals physically resemble each other pretty much tells the tale. And since half of your genes you got from your father, and your father has the same genes as your uncle, you share half your genes with your uncle…your relationship to him is ½, same as to your father. Mind you, your uncle is not a direct relative but a collateral one. You get genes from a direct ancestor, like your father…you share genes with a collateral, like your uncle, since you both got those genes ultimately from the same person…in this case, your grandfather, your uncle’s father.

chart 618

174.4  As a consequence, your relation to your uncle’s children, your 1st cousins, is the same as it would be to half-siblings, 1/4. As you can see in Chart 618, for genetic purposes, identical twins are considered the same person. But of course this doesn’t mean your uncle is your father, nor are your 1st cousins your half-siblings. Identical twins is the one place where genealogy and genetics don’t agree…a rare and unusual situation, but it is what it is. The distinction to remember: genetics is what you have…genealogy is where you got it from.

inset 1

174.5  Taking it one step further, if identical male twins marry identical female twins, their children will be as closely related as full siblings, ½. That’s genetically…genealogically, they are still double 1st cousins. Such a marriage is called a “quaternary marriage”…literally, a marriage between 4…not precisely what’s going on, but you get the idea. I have seen estimates ranging from 28 to 250 such couples in the world today…and yes, if you noticed something odd about the lower right picture above, those are identical twins from India…both college-educated veterinarians…who are simultaneously married to the same woman…just when you thought you’d heard of everything, nez pah?…details here.

174.6  All My Bastards…Baby Boomers grew up hearing of a thing called a “common law marriage.” What that is precisely is pretty much summed up by the other names for it: “marriage by habit and repute”…and the legal term “marriage sui juris,” literally in Latin “of one’s own right.” The reason it existed and its long and colorful history is quite involved, but suffice to say it is a marriage that is not formally registered with the government. Reminds me of Robert Louis Stevenson’s sardonic definition of marriage: “A friendship recognized by the police.”

174.7  Ironically, altho it has its basis in common law, as opposed to statutory law, what qualifies as a common law marriage and what doesn’t is set by legislation. And in the United States it has been legislated practically out of existence, now legal in only 9 states…Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah…and the District of Columbia.

174.8  Now back in History class, you may have been taught that Benjamin Franklin had a wife and family. What I’m sure they neglected to tell you was that he and Deborah Read were never legally married…theirs was a common law marriage. And no, they weren’t just “shacking up”…their union was solemnified by a traditional wedding ceremony on Sept. 1, 1730. That they were not “officially” married was a technicality that soon faded into a non-memory…but here’s story, and it’s pretty straightforward.

174.9  The two were teenage sweethearts…he fell in love with her while living at her mother’s rooming house…her father was dead. Ben was 17, Deb 15. Her mother forbad their marriage, not due to their ages, but because of his lack of financial security. Soon after, Deborah married a man named John Rodgers, and soon after that he absconded to the Barbados with her dowry, never to be heard from again. Because his whereabouts, and indeed his very existence, could not be determined, she could not divorce him…and thus, could not legally remarry. So she became Mrs. Benjamin Franklin in the only way she could, by common law.

174.10  So far, so good. But I promised you bastards, and bastards you shall have…in the old-fashioned sense of offspring born out of wedlock…born of parents who are not married…and this included parents who could not legally marry, regardless of whether they were living in a common law marriage. Now across much of the world today…and in the US thanks to Supreme Court decisions in the early 1970s, Equal Protection Clause and all that…the legal concept of illegitimacy and its consequences have all but disappeared. Still, by the letter of the law, Ben Franklin had no legitimate heirs. He and Deborah did have 2 children…the oldest, Francis Folger Franklin, died of smallpox at age 4…and Sarah “Sally” Franklin Bache was an ardent supporter of the American Revolution and served as her father’s political hostess after her mother’s death in 1774…she gave him 8 grandchildren, 7 of which lived to adulthood and produced a slew of great grandchildren.

inset 2

174.11  Now what complicates the picture is the presence in the Franklin household of one William Franklin, acknowledged by Benjamin to be his illegitimate son, born before his marriage to Deborah Read. William was raised by them as their son…he called her “mother”…and to this day the identity of his real mother is not known…speculation at the time not surprisingly focused on Deborah herself. He grew to become the Governor of New Jersey, but remained a loyalist, was jailed for a time, then exiled to England where he remained for the rest of his life. Witness Benjamin Franklin’s will….

inset 3

And if he sounds bitter…well, he was. But then these were human beings after all…and this whole account certainly puts the lie to Johnny Carson’s famous Carnak the Magnificent line…Answer: Ben Gay…Question: Why didn’t Mrs. Franklin have any children…

174.12  Those Pervy Pachydermsand let me say at the outset that I don’t have the definitive answer for this…but that’s OK. I consider this to be a shout-out to those who are more knowledgable about Babar the Elephant than I am…and blogs are so easy to revise and update. In fact, I don’t recall reading any of the zillions of Babar books as a kid…if I did, they apparently made zero impression on me…and it certainly went right over my head, as I’m sure it does young readers today, that Babar married his cousin, Celeste.

174.13  And yes, the Babar franchise is alive and well, despite the occasional charges of impropriety…they say things like elephevert and Celestincest for gosh sakes. It’s all part of this hypersensitive response we see today to anything that smacks of interbreeding, no matter how remote. I chalk it up to plain old-fashioned ignorance, nothing more. I mean, in most Muslim countries today, over 50% of the marriage are between 1st cousins…in Pakistan it’s 70%…so where’s your multiculturalism now? Up until fairly recently, cousin marriages in the Western world were not uncommon and barely raised eyebrows. As my recent series Adventures in Cousinland  demonstrated, a lot of very famous people married their cousins…my favorite being Albert Einstein, who was married to his 1st cousin on his mother’s side, altho she was also his 2nd cousin on his father’s side…they were what’s known as Irregular Double Cousins.

174.14  What’s more, the latest scientific studies say the genetic risk of even 1st cousin marriage has been greatly exaggerated…and no less than the hidebound Catholic Church will now allow them by special dispensation…look it up if you don’t believe me. But beyond the hysterical overreaction we see from some quarters, my question is this: Babar and Celeste were cousins how exactly? As we know, “cousin” in common parlance covers a lot of territory. The definitive answer would entail reading upwards of 40 volumes, begun by French author Jean de Brunhoff in 1931, and continued by his son Laurent in 1948…so let’s meet the family and friends…

inset 4

Pom, Flora, and Alexander are the children of Babar and Celeste, triplets mentioned here in order of size, so you can spot them in the group photo, left…Isabelle is their baby sister. Prime Minister Cornelius is the oldest and wisest elephant in Celesteville, but no relation…and where exactly Arthur fits in is a question…notice in the group photo he is dressed as a child, but much older than the royal siblings.

inset 5
  As for textual evidence, I have only a few quotes gleaned from the internet, but they are significant. The red box above is from the first book, The Story of Babar…it is the first time we see Celeste and Arthur, and notice they are the same size…in the group photo above, Arthur is a child while Babar and Celeste are adults. The green box is also from that first book, and it tells us that Arthur and Celeste are not siblings, since they have different mothers. The blue box is much later, from 1973, Meet Babar and His Family…and Arthur is now clearly a child, the adult Babar’s “young cousin.”

174.16  Based just on these statements alone, it would be reasonable to assume that Babar and Celeste are 1st cousins, close in age, and Arthur is also a 1st cousin, tho much younger. A Babar animated series ran for 78 episodes on HBO and elsewhere in the 1990s…it was a joint Canadian, French, and Japanese production, and in it there was no mention of cousins…now Arthur was Celeste’s little brother and Babar’s brother-in-law. Still, you will often see the relationship between the 3 referred to as “2nd cousins”…what’s up with that? Well, I don’t know for certain, but my guess is it has to do with…wait for it….the translation!

174.17  Because these stories were originally written in French…sadly, I have not seen the red box quote in the original. I can only point out that in French petit cousin (if that’s indeed what it says) has 2 meanings…it can be a small or young cousin, presumably smaller or younger than oneself…but it can also mean a distant cousin…which is commonly taken in English to mean a 2nd cousin or beyond…”2nd cousin” for short! And that is where we must leave it for now…except to mention that a quick bit of research tells me that actual elephants, unlike many other types of mammals, seem able to detect cousins and prefer not to mate with them, but will if there is no alternative. Next week, be sure to bring your bat and glove…because it’s…Play Ball!!

 wicked ballsy

chart 619

OK, I couldn’t resist diagramming our friends from India….and once again, there is a split between the genealogical and the genetic. Genealogically, offspring X and Y (in reality there are 7 of them all together) are half-siblings thru their mother, and 1st cousins thru their fathers…half-way between half-siblings and full siblings, which is why they’re called “3/4 siblings”…confusingly, since their degree of relationship is 3/8. But genetically, their fathers are the same person, so the offspring are the equivalent of full siblings…so help me…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved