HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
June 18, 2006

The fathers of baseball

By Matt Kane

Father’s Day was Sunday, and dads around the country were treated to dinner, a round of golf, a ball game, or a day on the boat by their appreciative offspring.

When pondering Father’s Day, I got to thinking it’s too bad the day wasn’t celebrated a week earlier, on June 10. That’s the day the late Dick Traen was inducted into the North Star League Hall of Fame. According to many people I’ve talked to, Traen was like a father to more than just his four biological children.

When I was gathering information for the article on Traen that appeared in the June 11 Delano Herald Journal, Traen’s son, Todd, spoke of how his dad used to make detours on his way to the ballpark or while instructing a pupil during driver’s training so he could look for old baseball mitts at yard sales. The mitts were then given to kids at the ballpark who either didn’t have a glove of their own or who just forgot their’s that day.

Giving a young kid a baseball glove? To me, that, simply, is what a father does. Of course, once the kid has a glove, he or she has to learn how to play catch, and who has taught more children how to catch and throw a baseball than dear old dad?

It is no coincidence that Traen’s fatherly approach to all kids centered around a baseball diamond. It seems the baseball field or stadium is where fathers and sons grow up together.

Baseball Almanac lists 179 father-son combinations that have played Major League Baseball, from Bobby Adams (1946-1959) and son Mike (1972-1978), to Del Young (1909-1915) and son Del Jr. (1937-1940).

Fourteen grandfather-grandson, three grandfather-father-son, and one great grandfather-great grandson combinations have played in the majors.

The Bells, Boones, and Hairstons are the three families that have seen grandfathers, fathers, and sons play.

Gus Bell played from 1950-1964, Buddy from 1972-1989, and Buddy’s sons, David and Mike, also made the big leagues. David Bell was active through last season.

The Boone family consists of grandfather Ray Boone (1948-1960), father Bob (1972-1990), and Bob’s sons, Aaron (1997-current) and Brett (1992-2005).

And the Hairston baseball family tree starts with Sammy Hairston (1951), and branches out to Jerry (1973-1989) and Jerry’s sons, Jerry Jr. (1998-current) and Scott (2004-current).

The only great-grandfather and great-grandson to have ever played in the major leagues are great-grandfather Jim Bluejacket and great-grandson Bill Wilkinson.

Bluejacket was a right-handed pitcher for the Brooklyn Tip-Tops in 1914 and 1915, and for the Cincinnati Reds in 1916. Bill Wilkinson was a right-handed pitcher for the Seattle Mariners from 1985-1988.

Seven father-son combinations have ties to Minnesota. In six of the combinations, either the father or son played for the Twins, and the seventh is a big baseball name in the state of Minnesota.

Neither Dick Siebert nor his son, Paul Siebert played for the Twins, but they both did play in the majors.

Before he elevated the University of Minnesota baseball program, Dick Siebert played Major League Baseball from 1932-1945 for the Brooklyn Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Philadelphia Athletics. Paul Siebert was drafted by the Houston Astros in 1971, and played in the majors from 1974-1978 for Houston, the San Diego Padres, and the New York Mets.

Former Twins players who have sons playing in the big leagues are Mike Bacsik (1979-1980), whose son, Mike plays for the Washington Nationals; Dave LaRoche (1972), whose son, Adam plays for Pittsburgh; Joe Niekro (1987-1988), whose son, Lance plays for San Francisco; and Gary Ward (1979-1983), whose son, Daryle plays for the Chicago Cubs.

Former Twins who were sons of major leaguers are Roy Smalley (1976-1982, 1985-1987), whose father, Roy (1948-1958) played with the Cubs, Milwaukee Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies; and Mike Stenhouse (1985), whose father, Dave played for the Washington Senators from 1962-1964.

Happy Father’s Day to all. Now, play ball.

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