Saturday, April 6, 2013

Big League Brothers

There have been more than 350-plus combinations of big league siblings. Not all of them made a major impact on the game. Of those that did, there were a majority of instances in which one brother carried the lion's share of the work. Such was the case with Hank Aaron and his little brother Tommie. Together, they hit 768 homers--an impressive combination if you discount the fact that Tommie went deep just 13 times in a 7-year career as a part-time player for the Braves.
 Examples of talent being evenly distributed among baseball brethren are extremely rare. In scouring the historical register, I came up with just a few worth mentioning. Let's start with pitchers:

Gaylord and Jim Perry

 The Perry brothers were the only kin in history to each claim a Cy Young Award. Older by three years, Jim made his debut in 1959 and was already a star by the time his little brother joined him in The Show. In a 17-year career spent with 4 different clubs, Jim posted a record of 215-174 with an ERA of 3.45. A 3-time All-Star, he collected at least 20 wins twice while leading the league in that category on two occasions. Gaylord got his start in 1962 and would remain at the big league level for 22 years, winning 314 games and posting a 3.11 ERA. In addition to five All-Star selections, the younger Perry won 2 Cy Young Awards, led the league in wins three times and authored a popular book in which he finally confessed to what had been suspected all along--that he had been throwing spitballs. Baseball writers forgave him as he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991.  

Phil and Joe Niekro

Five years older than his brother Joe, Phil was among the most successful knuckleballers in history with 318 wins in a 24-year career that stretched from 1963 to 1987. He was 48 years-old when he retired. By then, he had led the league in complete games 4 times while earning 5 gold gloves and 5 All-Star berths. Additionally, he paced the NL in victories twice and reached the 200 strikeout threshold in 3 straight seasons from 1977-'79. Though not quite as successful, Joe was no slouch either, winning 221 games while posting a highly serviceable 3.59 ERA in 22 seasons. In '79, he led the league in wins and was named Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News.  A fine defensive hurler, he posted flawless fielding percentages on 6 occasions though somehow he never won a Gold Glove. Joe had something his Hall of Fame brother did not--a World Series ring. He won it as a member of the Twins in 1987. 

Pedro and Ramon Martinez

Pedro grew up in the shadow of his older brother Ramon, who was just 16 years old when he was signed by the Dodgers after pitching for the Dominican national team in the 1984 Olympics. In a 14-year career spent with 3 clubs, the spindly Ramon (6-foot-4, 165 pounds) compiled a record of 135-88 with a 3.67 ERA. His finest year came in 1990 with the Dodgers, when he went 20-6 and led the league in complete games while recording more than 200 strikeouts. He finished second in Cy Young voting that year.  Pedro really put the Martinez name on the map, winning 3 Cy Young Awards while being named to 8 All-Star teams. He collected 219 career victories between 1992 and 2009 and his .687 winning percentage ranks sixth all-time. With nine 200 strikeout seasons, 3 ERA titles and a triple crown in '99, many believe he will be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible.

Bob and Ken Forsh

The Forsch brothers combined for 32 years of major league experience. Ken was the older of the two, getting his start in 1970. Bob forged his own path to the bigs in '74. Together, they won 282 games and established themselves as the only baseball brethren to each toss a no-hitter. Bob threw a pair of them--one in 1978 and another in 1983. Ken's came in 1979 while he was pitching for the Astros. The elder Forsch was named  to 2 All-Star teams and reached the 200 inning threshold 4 times. Additionally, he led the American League in shutouts during the '81 campaign. Bob claimed 54 more victories than his big bro, retiring with 168. In all, he posted double digit win totals 11 times.


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