#179: Tomorrow Pitching to Today

179.1  …yeah, we got a couple of “days” on the team…if it makes sense to Abbott & Costello, who am I to argue? But today we look at some bands of brothers…and if we start by limiting it to the Major Leagues, the kings of the hill are the Delahanty brothers.

179.2  5 of them, all played in the Bigs, and that’s a record…well, today everything is a “record,” but there you go. Big brother was Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty, born in 1867…16 seasons, 1888-1903. He was a true superstar of his era, batting over .400 3 times and finishing with a career average of .346. He lead his league in slugging percentage 5 times and hit 101 career home runs…to put that in perspective, when Babe Ruth became the career HR leader in 1921, he did so by passing Roger Connors’ total of 138. Ed was an outfielder with a rifle arm and fleet on the base paths as well…and by all accounts, something of a hothead….leading to his mysterious demise during the 1903 season.

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179.3  That he fell to his death on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls on July 2, 1903 is beyond dispute. Question is, did he stumble, did he jump, or was he pushed? We do know he was put off a train on the bridge that night for drunken and rowdy behavior…and there was a scuffle with an elderly watchman who, according to court testimony, took him for a smuggler. There’s even been a book written investigating the incident, but we’ll probability never know for certain. He did ruffle some serious feathers by jumping from the established National League to the upstart American League, and encouraging his fellows to do the same. Curiously, the body of a local farmer was also found under the falls shortly thereafter…minus the $1500 relatives said he had left home with.

179.4  But as to the brothers, here are their years of birth and number of games played in the Majors…Tom (1872, 19)…Joe (1875, 270)…Jim (1879, 1186, 13 seasons)…and Frank (1882, 287). Runners-up are the 4 O’Neill brothers, whose cumulative Big League careers spanned 1901-1928. Steve O’Neill was a catcher for 17 seasons, mostly with the Cleveland Indians…his 3 brothers had much shorter careers…Jack and Jim were also catchers, and Mike was a pitcher, appearing in just 32 games.

179.5  Next, we drop down to trios of brothers…still a rare occurrence…I count just 18 examples. And besides the Alous (see Related How Again? #176), only the Wright brothers…George, Harry, and Sam…were teammates, albeit briefly, with the Boston Red Caps in 1876, the first year of the National League. George was their star shortstop…manager Harry appeared in just one game as an outfielder, brother Sam in just 2 games at shortstop. Now no trio of brothers played in more games than the Alous, 5129…compared to 4245 for the DiMaggios…all 6 had careers of at least 10 years.

179.6  Still, the DiMaggios were the most successful brother trio, voted to a total of 22 All-Star Games, to the Alous’ 5…for the record: Joe 13, Dom 7, Vince 2…versus…Felipe 3, Matty 2, Jesus 0. Interestingly, the DiMaggios, all of whose middle names were Paul, did not appear together in an All-Star game. Vince’s only 2 appearances were 1943-44 when Joe was away in the military.

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179.7  Also interesting to note that the 3 baseball DiMaggios were the youngest of 9 siblings…their 2 older brothers followed in their father’s footsteps as fishermen plying their trade off the coast of San Francisco. Vince disappointed Papa by running off to join the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, with Joe soon to follow. They were reunited in a Los Angeles Angels/S.F. Seals Old-Timers game in August of 1956…Joe and Vince were Seal teammates for 2 years, brother Dom “The Little Professor” was a Seal 4 seasons later. 2 bits of DiMaggio trivia..Joe’s famous 1941 hitting streak of 56 games was actually 57…he doubled in the All-Star Game, going 1/4 and scoring 3 runs…TBT, he was an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons, the only player to never not be an All-Star pick. And do you remember the Major League team he coached for 1968-69? Actually, hitting instructor…answer in today’s wicked ballsy.

179.8  Other brother trios likely remembered by Baby Boomer fans, including combined years active…and again with year of birth and number of Big League games…

Sadowski 1960-66   Ed, C (1931, 217)…Ted, P (1936, 43)…Bob, P (1938,115)

Paciorek 1963-87  John (1945, 1)…Tom (1946, 1392)…Jim (1960, 48)

Allen 1963-77   Hank (1940, 389)…Dick/Richie (1942, 1749)…Ron (1943, 7)

Cruz 1970-88   Jose Sr. (1947, 2353)…Tommy (1951, 7)…Hector/”Heity” (1953, 624)

Edwards 1977-83   twins (1952)  Marshall (160)…Mike (317)…Dave (1954, 321)

Perez all P 1980-2000   Pascal (1957, 207)…Melido (1966, 243)…Carlos (1971, 142)

Molina 1998-2014   Bengie (1974, 1362)…Jose (1975, 13th season)…Yadier (1982, 11th season)

179.9  I should mention that the Perez brothers from the Dominican Republic played under their mother’s name, their father being Juan Pablo Gross. Then we have the Boyers…first up was Cloyd born in 1927, a pitcher from 1949-55 and teammate with brother Kenton his final season with the Cardinals…Ken was born in 1931 and played 15 seasons at third base. Cletis/”Clete,” born in 1937, also patrolled the hot corner, for 16 seasons.  And dig those cool 1955 Bowman Color TV cards…the blonde wood was especially prized as I recall…and those umpire cards? On the trading block you couldn’t give them away! But remember, we’re only considering Major Leaguers here…if we expand that to include Minor Leaguers…

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179.10  …we add 4 more Boyer boys, for a total of 7 pro ballplayers, which I would say is pushing the limit of how much athletic talent one family can produce. That’s 7 sons and 7 daughters…one daughter died in infancy…of Vern and Mabel Boyer, Alba, Missouri…and yes, some of the girls played ball with their brothers. They are, with year of birth, games in the Minors, and position… Wayne (1930, 55, P)…Lynn (1935, 138, 1B)…Ron (1944, 627, 3B)…and Len (1946, 580, Inf/Of). They were Cardinal farm-hands except NY Yankee Ron, also the only one to briefly reach Triple A…Wayne and Lynn never got out of D-ball, back when there was such a thing…Len peaked at Double A. Then the second generation too, as Ken’s son Dave and Clete’s son MIckey had short Minor League careers…Dave 5 seasons, Mickey just 1.

179.11  Other 5-brother pro baseball families include the Roofs from Paducah…Phil and Gene played in the Majors…David, Adrian, and Paul in the Minors. Notable spread in ages…Adrian born in 1936, Gene in 1958. Their cousin Eddie Haas also made it to the Show…his brother Lou played in the Minors, as did an assortment of sons and nephews for a total extended family dynasty of an even dozen. And Hall of Famer Eddie Murray was the 8th of 12 siblings…and all 5 boys played pro ball…Rich for 2 years with Giants, batting .216 in 56 games…oldest brother Charles hit 121 homers in 7 minor league season, reaching Triple A but no further…Venice and Leon had briefer Minor League stints.

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179.12  And a salute to the 5 Bankhead brothers who played Negro League ball. Only Dan Bankhead made it to the Majors…becoming the first black pitcher in August of 1947 with the Dodgers, and hitting a home run in his first at bat. Brother Sam was the first black manager in the Minors, as player-manager with the Farnham Pirates of the Class-C Provincial League in Quebec in 1951. Fred spent 13 years in the Negro Leagues, appearing in one all-star contest…Garnett and Joe had brief pro baseball careers.

179.13  Finally, 2 other interesting cases of brothers. An article written in 2012 said of the some 18,000 Major Leaguers down thru history, 974 had careers that lasted a single game. That sounds like a high figure to me…but of those, the strangest stats line must belong to Robin Young’s older brother Larry. He’s credited with one game pitched, and no other stats…a big fat 0 in every other category. What’s odd about that is by rule a pitcher introduced into a game has to face at least one batter…and that batter would show up in the pitcher’s stats somewhere, as a hit, a walk, something…only exception would be if he reached on an error and the pitcher was immediately yanked…or maybe 2 batters, 2 connective errors? Still, there is a little used stat called batters faced, and Larry Yount has a 0 there too.

179.14  That’s because there is an exception to the one-batter rule in the case of an injury, and that’s precisely what happened to hapless Larry. With the Houston Astros trailing Atlanta 4-1 on September 15, 1971 in the Astrodome, he was called in to pitch the top of the 9th. Warming up on the mound, he felt his elbow stiffen and was replaced without facing a batter. Of course one might argue that this shouldn’t count as a game appearance, but baseball has ruled that it does…mind you, they can always change this at some point in the future, like when they redefined no-hitters and perfect games several years ago…in which case Larry Yount really would be O-U-T-out. Robin made his debut with the Brewers 3 years later in 1974.

179.15  And while I’m thinking of it, Earned Run Average is computed by dividing earned runs by innings, then multiplying by 9 to get average runs per game. An out is considered a fraction of an inning…if a pitcher leaves with one out, he gets 1/3 of an inning…2 outs, 2/3 of an inning. No outs means no innings pitched, and if you were to give up say 5 runs, your ERA would be figured with 5/0…except that division by 0 is mathematically impossible. Some publications and websites call this an “infinite” ERA, but that’s unofficial…baseball officially says you simply don’t have an ERA at all.

179.16  My humble suggestion would be to consider that 3 outs, if taken as strike outs, amount to 9 strikes…so in this sense a strike is the smallest “fraction” of an inning. So give the pitcher with no outs credit for 1/9 of an inning pitched…implying that he threw at least one strike, which obviously isn’t true in Larry Yount’s case! But doing it that way, Doc Hamann becomes the all-time ERA leader at 486.00….6 runs, 7 batters faced, no outs…taking Joe Cleary off the hook, whose 7 runs in 1/3 inning gave him an ERA of 189.00

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179.17  And as for Mookie Wilson, it just goes to show you how stultifyingly ignorant some people are, about kinship or just in general. The fact that Preston Wilson is both Mookie’s step-son and nephew leads people to ask: Did he marry his own sister? Wha–? No, he married Preston’s mother Rosa Gilbert…Preston James Richard Wilson’s father was Mookie’s brother Richard. The exact details are elusive on the internet, but it was hardly a secret…the marriage ceremony took place at home plate of Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi before 1200 fans…this was in 1978, 2 years before his debut with the Mets.

179.18  For the record, Mookie is actually William Heyward Wilson…the story goes that as an infant he called milk “mookie,” altho at least one article claims he himself doesn’t know the origin of the nickname. He had 5 brothers besides Richard: Stebia, Collis, Daniel, John, and Philip…the last 2 played in the Minors…plus 5 sisters. In the dedication to his autobiography, Richard is mentioned as “the late.” Preston was named after his maternal grandfather Preston Hicks…and they were apparently III and IV respectively…Preston’s son died in 2001 at age 10 days, and was named Preston Wilson V. Yes, I noticed that all of Mookie’s in-laws are named Hicks except his wife…I could guess why but it would only be a guess…ain’t genealogy fun, sez me.

179.19  …not to be confused with Travis Sentell “Gookie” Dawkins, whose 15-year Minor League career was highlighted by several “cups of coffee” in the Bigs. Or Nehames “Pookie” Bernstine, who went coffee-less, and whose claim to fame, other than being the older brother of NFL running back Rod Bernstine, is that he isn’t Jewish. Seriously…years ago an article ran in The Sporting News about a father and son who collected the autographs of Jewish ballplayers, and were disappointed with Pookie, but accepted his John Hancock none the less. Or Tookie Gilbert, first baseman for the NY Giants in the early 1950s. Should we include the various Cookies, from Lavagetto to Rojas? Probably not, as the “oo” is pronounced differently…consider the 2 ways you say “oo” in “good food.” And seems to me there was once a Nookie or Nukie but the net can’t find him…I must have imagined it.

170.20   But then this story broke just the other day: Red Sox rookie outfielder Mookie Betts… born Markus Lynn Betts in 1992, the year after Mookie Wilson’s final season…says his parents nicknamed him after NBA guard Daron Oshay “Mookie” Blaylock…yeah, but — oh, never mind. Next week, we wrap up our salute to baseball with a few more genealogical pop-ups and line-drives…see yez…


wicked ballsy


Yup, the newly transplanted Oakland A’s…and there he is, schmoozing with Mr. You-Know-What-Month…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved




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