When it comes to baseball brothers, the first couple that come to mind are the Ripkens, the DiMaggios, or to a lesser, more obnoxious extent, the Molinas. For a whole list, visit the baseball-almanac. It’s chock full of famous players’ brothers you probably never knew existed.
Sports Digest says you have about a .4% or 1 in 250, chance of playing professionally if you played in high school. (The number varies according to some other sources) These very slim chances make the feat of Mr. and Mrs. DiMaggio even more amazing – producing three great ball players. The fraternal home run record however, is held by Tommie and Hank Aaron at 768! (Although, Tommie only had 13…)
They were also the first siblings to appear in a League Championship Series as teammates. Does that make them the best baseball brothers? How about Phil and Joe Niekro, both knuckleballer specialists, who hold the record for most combined wins by brothers at 539? It’s up to you. However, may I present to you the lesser known, biggest, and maybe most interesting baseball family, the Delahantys.
The brothers’ time in the MLB spanned 1888 – 1915 and spanned over 11 teams. Ed is probably the only one you’ve ever heard of. A stalwart of the Philadelphia Phillies organization for 1o years, entering the league at the ripe age of 20, he has a career .346 batting average, putting him 5th all-time. While spending most of his time in left field, he was originally drafted as a 2nd baseman. would later be inducted into the Hall of Fame. To give you some context of how long ago Ed played, according to Wikipedia, he was obtained by the Philadelphia Phillies from a minor league team in 1888 to replace their former second baseman, who died from typhoid fever. (1800s-people problems, am I right?)
Playing time cross over…
In 1901 the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Orphans were in the same league. This meant that at least the teams of Ed and younger brother Jim (respectively) were playing each other off and on during that season. The next season, 1902, both brothers were traded to different teams in separate leagues, so they most likely never played each other professionally again.
1907 The brothers Jim and Frank definitely squared off in the American League when they played on the St. Louis Browns and Cleveland Naps (respectively). Their playing time overlapped during their careers, but as both were somewhat journeymen players, they rarely played in the same league. Their brother Joe was also playing that year, but he was on the lowly St. Louis Cardinals, which was (and still is) a National League team. Interleague play during the regular season didn’t start for another 90 years!
The family history of odd deaths…
This may be the craziest fact of all. Apparently after getting drunk and disorderly on a train ride, brandishing a razor and threatening passengers, Ed Delahanty (the famous one) was promptly kicked off the train by the conductor while in the Canadian side of Niagra Falls. He was thus forced to cross the International Bridge by foot, where he fell over the edge to his death. Whether he was pushed, jumped or simply stumbled while drunk is a mystery to this day. Either way, Hall of Famer ‘Big’ Ed Delahanty’s life was cut short at the age of 36.
This wouldn’t be as crazy until I read later that his younger brother Frank (the one pictured as a cartoon), former Yankee and Cleveland Indian, also died from an ‘accidental fall’ in 1966. (This significantly was later in his life however, and not while drunkenly crossing a bridge, but somehow still just as odd…)
Again, this is really up to you to decide. If you prefer homers, go with the Bonds or the Aarons. If you fancy wins and knuckleballs, perhaps the Niekros are your choice. All-time consecutive games played plus a brother named Billy, go with the Ripkens! Wacky falling deaths? Go with the Delahantys.
All pictures courtesy of Wikipedia.org