In keeping with this week’s theme of Brothers in Baseball, here’s a video of the Baseball Project performing “Larry Yount.”
Yesterday I posed the question, if your brother signs with an MLB team, can he get you a job too? In that post I covered Zach and Buck Britton, Jonathan and Sharlon Schoop, and Caleb and Corban Joseph – all brother teams that have a connection to the Baltimore Orioles. Curiously, the younger brother is in the big leagues, while the older brother still toils in the minors.
This is also the case with the Washington Nationals’ Bryan and Bryce Harper. Bryan Harper was drafted in the 31st round of the 2008 draft by the Washington Nationals, and in the 27th round of the 2010 draft by the Cubs. He was drafted again by the Nationals in the 30th round of the 2011 draft, one year after his little brother Bryce was the first pick of the first round of the 2010 draft. Bryce started his career in the Arizona Fall League in 2010 and made his major league debut on April 28, 2012. Bryan spent 2012 in the New York-Penn League. He finished the 2015 season with the Nationals AAA team, the Syracuse Chiefs.
Of course, some baseball brothers have followed more parallel paths. Take, for example, Dylan and Bobby Bundy, both of whom are in the Orioles organization. The older of the two, Bobby, was drafted by the Orioles in 2008, and the younger, Dylan, was drafted in 2011. Dylan made it to the majors first – after beginning his minor league career in 2012 and was called up to Baltimore from Bowie at the end of the 2012 season. Dylan, who had been in the Orioles farm system since 2008, had been promoted to Bowie in 2011 and remained there in 2012.
Prior to the start of the 2013 season, however, Dylan experienced elbow pain and ended up undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of that year. Three months later, Bobby would have the same surgery. The pair spent 2014 rehabbing and both began the 2015 season in Bowie. However, in May the Orioles announced that Bobby needed knee surgery and would miss the rest of the season. Then in June, the Orioles shut down Dylan “indefinitely” due to a shoulder injury. Hopefully we will see these two brother again.
Of course, one of the most famous brother duos – at least in the Maryland-DC area – was Cal and Billy Ripken. In this case, it was the older of the two that would make history. Cal Ripken was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1978 draft and made his MLB debut on August 10, 1981. Younger brother Billy was chosen by the Orioles in the 11th round of the 1982 draft. Cal played through the 2001 season – the entire time for the Baltimore Orioles. Among other honors, Cal was a 19-time All Star, was AL MVP twice, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. Billy played in the majors from July 1987 through July 1998. After the 1992 season, Billy was signed by the Texas Rangers. He finished his career with the Detroit Tigers in 1998. But he’s still Maryland’s favorite little brother.
Have you hugged your brother today?
If your brother signs with an MLB team, can he get you a job too? I began to wonder if there was a “Brother Plan” in Major League Baseball when there seemed to be a lot of familiar names on the Bowie Baysox roster: Schoop, Britton, and, most recently, Joseph. And then there’s the Harper Brothers over with the Washington Nationals. What’s more interesting is that, of these brother pairs, the older one: (a) is still in the minors, and (b) has had a longer playing career there. Could there be some kind of deal where a player says, “sure, I’d love to sign with your team. But can you take my brother, too?”
One of my favorite sets of teammate brothers was Zach and Buck Britton. Zach is now the closer with the Baltimore Orioles, but I remember watching him pitch for the Bowie Baysox (the O’s AA team) in 2010 and 2011. Zach was signed by the Orioles in the 3rd round of the 2006 draft. He was in the minors from 2006 to 2011, and made his MLB debut on April 3, 2011. His brother Buck is a year and a half older. He was drafted out of college two years after Zach – in the 35th round of the 2008 draft. Buck became a fixture at the Bowie Baysox, playing third base from 2011 to 2014. After the 2014 season, Buck signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers, and spent the 2015 season with the Oklahoma City Dodgers. We still miss him in Bowie.
Jonathan Schoop, the reigning 2nd baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, signed with the team in 2008 and made his MLB debut in 2013. His brother Sharlon is four years older. Although he signed with the Giants in 2004, they never called up to the big leagues. The Orioles signed Sharlon to a minor league contract in 2013. We watched him play in Bowie in 2014; he spent most of 2015 with the Norfolk Tides, the Orioles AAA team.
Then there’s the Joseph brothers. Younger brother Caleb is currently with the Baltimore Orioles. He spent 2008 through 2014 in the minor leagues, including all of 2010, and parts of 2011-2013 in AA Bowie. There he set franchise records for most games played (428), RBIs (237), and hits (416). Until this summer, I had no idea his older brother Corban (two years his senior) was also a professional baseball player. Corban Joseph was originally signed by the New York Yankees, and played 2 games at the MLB level in 2013. The Baltimore Orioles signed him as a free agent on June 15, 2015. He finished the 2015 season with the Bowie Baysox.
Of course, there are more brother duos in the majors and minors. I’ll discuss a few more tomorrow.
To be continued …
The Pope is coming to the United States today, and it’s a pretty big deal – even for baseball. Last week, the Philadelphia Phillies gave away “Pope Rookie Cards,” featuring the pontiff and providing his stats.
Last year around this time, Pope Francis made baseball headlines with his attempt at catching a ball tossed to him in St. Peter’s Square. As the New York Daily News reported, “The ball bounced from his extended right hand and fell to the ground – along with his skullcap. If you’re scoring at home, that’s no error on the Pope. He’s infallible.”
Happy Pope Week!
On Saturday night, my hometown team – the Bowie Baysox – won the Eastern League Championship!!!!! I’ve been following the Baysox ever since I moved to Bowie (and, in fact, moved to Bowie precisely because it was home to a minor league baseball team), so I made sure to attend all three games of the championship series last week. Experiencing the final game of the series and seeing the Baysox win was like attending the World Series.
Congratulations, again, my beloved Baysox!
And for those of you who couldn’t attend the game, here’s a video from the Baysox:
As the minor league season winds down, it’s time to update you on the latest in minor league theme jerseys. A few weeks ago, milb.com held it’s first-ever “Jersey Joust” competition. Folks could go online and vote for their favorite jersey. Pictures of all 124 jerseys in the contest are on the website.
And the winner was… the Potomac Nationals Lando Clarissian jersey! According to the P-Nats’ general manager, Josh Olerud (as quoted on milb.com): “‘When our players got it, some of them are so young that they didn’t even know who the character or actor was. Once they did a little research, they thought it was the coolest thing ever.'”
I agree the Lando jerseys are pretty cool. But last night, another team wore even cooler jerseys: the Aberdeen Ironbirds donned Cal Ripken 2131 jerseys in honor of the 20th anniversary of Cal’s iron man streak. Of course, it was only fitting since the team is owned by Cal, they are located in Cal’s home town, and they play in Ripken Stadium.
Sorry, Billy Dee Williams, but Cal is way cooler!
Here’s some more local news coverage related to my previous post:
On August 6, the Fresno Grizzlies will become what they eat when they become the Fresno Tacos for a day. A few weeks ago they held a press conference to announce the news complete with a life-size replica of the jersey and the tagline, “August 6: We Are What We Eat.”
Recently, minor league teams have embraced the concept of themed jerseys – not only to attract folks to the game, but also to raise funds for various charities by auctioning or raffling off the player-worn jerseys. For example, the Tri-City ValleyCats will wear Hawaiian-themed jerseys on August 9 for their Philan”tropic” Beach Party. The jerseys will then be auctioned to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
This year alone, many teams have donned special jerseys for Breast Cancer Awareness and Autism Awareness. But the themes go far beyond that from Star Wars (about 20 or so teams had jerseys with different Star Wars characters) to Game of Thrones. One team even wore egg-themed jerseys – for Bacon and Eggs Night, of course!
Interestingly, we never see Major League players in wacky theme jerseys. At most, we might see them wearing military-inspired jerseys. But how much might we pay to see Jayson Werth in a Chewbacca jersey or Big Papi as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?
Below is just a sampling of this year’s minor league jerseys. I’m sure next year they will be even more creative!
|4/24||Bridgeport Bluefish||Tuxedo Jerseys|
|5/2||Jackson Generals||Star Wars – R2D2 and C3PO|
|5/8||Akron||Scrub Uniforms (for Nurse Appreciation Night)|
|5/8||Lehigh Valley||Star Wars – Han Solo|
|5/15||Bridgeport Bluefish||SNL Tribute Jerseys|
|5/16||Durham||Star Wars – C3PO|
|5/16||Reno||Star Wars – Han Solo (frozen in carbonite)|
|5/23||Louisville||Superheroes – Batman|
|5/30||Altoona||Star Wars – Jabba the Hutt|
|6/5||Erie||Breast Cancer Awareness|
|6/12||Bridgeport Bluefish||Ringmaster Jerseys|
|6/12||Frisco||Full House Night|
|6/13||Richmond||Shark Jerseys (honoring swim teams)|
|6/13||Northwest Ark.||Star Wars|
|6/20||New Hampshire||Star Wars – Darth Vader|
|6/25||Richmond||Jumanji (Tribute to Robin Williams)|
|7/3||Bridgeport Bluefish||Patriotic – Constitution Jerseys|
|7/5||Brooklyn||Seinfeld Jerseys (Kramer’s Technicolor Dreamcoat)|
|7/5||Brooklyn||Seinfeld Night – Kramer’s Technicolor Dreamcoat|
|7/10||Durham||Breast Cancer Awareness|
|7/11||Lowell||Star Wars – Darth Vader|
|7/17||Bridgeport Bluefish||Sci-Fi Jerseys|
|7/18||Buffalo||Star Wars – Jedi Knights|
|7/24||Bridgeport Bluefish||Santa Specialty Jerseys|
|7/30||Richmond||Superheroes – Flash|
|8/2||State College||Breast Cancer Awareness|
|8/6||M-Braves||Breast Cancer Awareness|
|8/6||Toledo||Egg-Themed Jersey (for Bacon and Eggs Night)|
|8/7||Bridgeport Bluefish||Ghostbusters Jersey|
|8/8||Altoona||Breast Cancer Awareness|
|8/8||Staten Island||Game of Thrones Jerseys|
|8/8||Lowell||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|
|8/11||Fargo-Moorhead||Breast Cancer Awareness|
|8/14||Bridgeport Bluefish||Mystery Specialty Jersey|
|8/15||Harrisburg||Breast Cancer Awareness|
|8/15||Portland||Star Wars – R2D2|
|8/22||Mahoning Valley||Star Wars|
|8/24||Tri-City||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Jerseys|
|9/5||Tri-City||Sons of Southpaw: Bike Night|
|9/18||Bridgeport Bluefish||Neon Specialty Jerseys|
I noted a few weeks ago that it’s become commonplace that baseball teams hold events such as Military and Law Enforcement Appreciation Nights. But what about the other professions? Never fear, baseball is here and has it covered.
The professions with the most appreciation nights are health care and medical professionals, including nurses and pharmacists. The teams recognizing these professionals are: Bridgeport, Akron, Washington Nationals, Trenton, Aberdeen, Tampa Bay, and New Britain. The next most popular profession to be honored at a ballpark near you are teachers. Portland, Atlanta, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Akron are all holding (or have held) Teacher Appreciation Nights. Interestingly, many teams appreciated teachers in May and June – when school was ending. Only St. Louis appears to be appreciating them in September.
But these are the only professions being honored. On the list for this year are: administrative assistants, lawyers, wait staff, realtors, bankers, bus drivers, and corrections officers. In fact, the Aberdeen IronBirds are recognizing workers in several fields with Automotive Night, Construction Night, Healthcare Night, Accounting Night, Healthcare Night, Law Night, Realtor Night, Farm and Agriculture Night, Bankers Night, and Insurance Night. Similarly, the Cardinals had/have appreciation nights for the following: accounting industry, auto industry, bank and credit unions, financial planners, healthcare appreciation, insurance agencies, legal services, real estate, restaurant appreciation, salons and barber shops, and teachers and staff.
Below is the list of the remaining Professional Appreciation Nights for this year. Next year I want to see a Sociologists Appreciation Night!
|7/31||Potomac||Legal Professionals Night|
|7/31||New Britain||Pharmacists and Medical Professionals Night|
|8/8||Tampa Bay||Healthcare Professionals Night|
|8/9||Lancaster (CA)||Aerospace Appreciation Night|
|8/9||State College||Bus Driver Appreciation Night|
|8/12||Potomac||Bus Driver and Teacher Appreciation Day|
|8/20||Brooklyn||Corrections Officer Night|
|8/31||St. Louis||Accounting Industry|
|9/1||St. Louis||Teachers and Staff Appreciation Night|
|9/21||St. Louis||Teachers and Staff Appreciation Night|
|9/22||St. Louis||Healthcare Appreciation Night|
|9/23||St. Louis||Healthcare Appreciation Night|
Just three weeks ago, Sean Conroy pitched a 3-hit shutout for the Sonoma Stompers (of the independent league Pacific Association Baseball Clubs). It was Conroy’s first start with the team since being signed right out of college in May. It also happened to be Pride Night at the Stompers.
Oh. And Conroy just so happens to be the first openly gay professional baseball player in the nation’s history.
The weird thing is, though, the media hasn’t really said much about it. There appears to have been one AP article that was picked up by a lot of news outlets, including ESPN.com. The Washington Times picked up the story, but not the New York Times – at least not fully. Buried at the bottom of an AP article summarizing the previous night’s games is a few sentences with the title, “Openly Gay Pitcher in the Minors.” The next day, the NYT printed another AP piece titled, “10 Things to Know for Today.” Listed between #6, “Trump Comments Rankle TV Networks,” and #8, “Bristol Palin Pregnant Again,” was “Who Made Diamond History.” And all it states is: “Baseball history is made in Northern California wine country when 23-year-old Sean Conroy, the sport’s first active professional player to come out as gay, pitches a shutout.”
In my research on diversity/heritage days and other observances at baseball stadiums this year, I’ve run across only a handful of LGBT pride events. However, the more digging I did, the more I realized that a lot of teams had such events, they just didn’t necessarily advertise them – often remaining completely silent and leaving the organizing and advertising up to partner organizations.
Of course, when the Oakland A’s announced they’d be holding their first-ever Pride Night on June 17 this year, some fans were not too happy about it. However, one player’s girlfriend took care of the problem by offering to buy people’s tickets. She blogged, “So, A’s fans; if attending a baseball game on LGBT Pride Night makes you at all uncomfortable, it is probably a good idea to sell your tickets. And I have the perfect buyer. ME!” The tickets she purchased, she said, would be donated to the Bay Area LGBTQ youth center. She also set up a “Go Fund Me Page” to purchase more tickets for the community center. She and A’s ballplayer Sean Doolittle pledged to match the first $3,000 in donations.
Some teams have been holding LGBT pride events for years – such as the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants. Others are just starting to befriend this part of the community, such as the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays, both of whom held their first LGBT events this year.
Here’s the list of pride events I’ve found so far. The lack of information is astounding. As I learn more, I’ll post more on this issue.
|6/12||Red Sox||Pride Night|
|6/12||Tampa Bay||Pride Night|
|6/17||Nationals||Night Out (LGBT)|
|6/18||Nashville||Night Out at the Ballpark|
|6/19||Dodgers||LGBT Pride Night|
|6/23||Bridgeport Bluefish||LGBTQ Community Night|
|6/30||Orioles||LGBT Baseball Night Out|
|7/6||Staten Island||Pride Night|
|7/16||Buffalo||Out at the Ballpark|
|7/30||Phillies||Gay Community Night|
|8/25||Toronto||Play with Pride Night|
|8/29||White Sox||Out at the Sox|