Baseball is America's pastime and it has been passed down from father to son for generations. I was playing catch and fielding grounders with my dad since before I can even remember. He would pitch to me so I could practice my hitting until his arm hurt. I am still able to have the occasional catch with my old man, but these days I spend more time working with my own kids on their hitting and catching. I had the joy of coaching my kids in their first T-ball season this year just as my father coached me and his father coached him. This article is to acknowledge some (not all) of the fathers that have gotten to coach or play with their kids at the highest level.
Some baseball families have had legendary careers. Happy Father's Day!
The first family of baseball for any Orioles fan is the Ripken's. Cal Ripken Sr was a minor league player for parts of six seasons, mostly as a catcher but he also played some third base, outfield and even pitched in six games. He made his name for himself as a coach and manager with the Orioles organization where he either coached or managed at every level. Cal Sr was able to instill "The Ripken Way" into many players, including two of his son's. Cal Ripken Jr broke into the major leagues with the Orioles in 1982 and his younger brother Billy debuted with the O's in 1987. Cal Sr was the manager for the Orioles in 1985, '87 and '88, while his sons were on the team.
Billy was a role player with a career that spanned parts of 12 seasons in the majors, where he played all four infield positions with four teams (including two stints with the Orioles and two with the Texas Rangers). Cal Jr was slightly more consistent. Cal Jr played 21 seasons, all with the Orioles, that included a Rookie of the Year, two MVP's, 19 all-star appearances, a World Series championship and a record 2,632 consecutive games played. Cal's son Ryan Ripken almost made it to the majors, getting as high as Triple-A with the Norfolk Tides in 2021 before retiring from baseball.
The Ripken's aren't the only baseball family in Baltimore. Tyler Nevin, the son of Phil was a member of the 2022 Orioles, and now plays for the Detroit Tigers, while Phil was a journeyman pitcher for 12 seasons and now manages the Los Angeles Angels. But Tim Raines Sr and Jr did something with the Orioles that only one other father / son pair has gotten to do. Raines Sr had a hall of fame career that spanned parts of 23 seasons. Raines Jr only played 75 total games in parts of three seasons, but on October 4, 2001 they got to line up next to each other in the same Orioles outfield.
The first father / son duo to play together of course with the Griffey's. Ken Griffey Sr was a three time all-star and two time World Series champion as part of the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati. He played with four teams in total over parts of 19 major league seasons. Ken Griffey Jr was a 13 time all-star and MVP who also won 10 gold gloves in his 22 year Hall of Fame career. Griffey Jr made his major league debut on April 3, 1989 with the Seattle Mariners while his father was in his second stint with the Cincinnati Reds, making them the first father / son pair to play in the major leagues at the same time.
Griffey Sr signed to play the 1990 season with the Mariners and on August 30, 1990 they became the first father / son duo to play in the same outfield. Both Griffey's were a joy to watch and two weeks into playing together, they excited everyone when they hit back to back home runs. Griffey Sr retired after the '91 season while Griffey Jr went on to be one of the greatest players in baseball history.
The Boone family has celebrated father's day at the ballpark for three generations. Ray Boone was a two time all-star for the Detroit Tigers and a member of the 1948 Cleveland Indians World Series champions. He broke into the majors as a shortstop and played a little third base but spent the second half of his career at first base. Ray played parts of 13 seasons for a total of six teams and put up solid numbers. Ray's son, Bob Boone, played 19 years for the Philadelphia Phillies, California Angels and Kansas City Royals. During that time, Bob was a four time all-star and won seven gold gloves. Like his father, Bob also won a World Series, but his was with the 1980 Phillies. Bob later spent three seasons as the Royals manager and three as the Reds manager.
Bob had two kids reach the major leagues, Bret and Aaron. Bret entered the majors in 1992 and was a very good second baseman. He continued the journeyman ways of the Boone's before him and played 14 seasons with five different teams appearing in three all-star games, winning four gold gloves and three silver sluggers. Bret's best season came in 2001 when he led the American League with 141 RBI's and finished third in MVP voting. Bret's younger brother Aaron played 12 seasons in the majors with six different teams, making one all-star appearance. He did hit one of the most iconic home runs in the stories Yankees history. Aaron followed his father's foot steps into managing and somehow has held on to the Yankees manager position. Bret's son Jake Boone is still trying to extend the family tradition one generation further and is currently playing in the Frontier League.
Many of us will never experience the major leagues, but if Field of Dreams taught us anything, it's that having a catch with your father is something to never take for granted. So, on this father's day, grab your glove and ball, head outside with your father or child and make some memories. Happy father's day.