Sibling rivalries are a beautiful thing. Starting from an early age, they can increase over time, with each new obstacle in life becoming grounds for bragging rights. When you place that added pressure on a professional athlete, the competition factor shoots through the roof.
Take a look at the three Molina brothers. Bengie, Jose and Yadier Molina have combined for seven World Series appearances. Each has two rings, although Bengie’s second came through a bittersweet twist. A midseason trade in 2010 sent him from San Francisco to Texas. When the Giants then beat the Rangers in the World Series, he received a ring anyway due to the timing of the move. Regardless, the three brothers surely root for each other despite an extra drive to rise above their sibling.
What happens when baseball siblings don’t share the limelight equally? A rivalry is only truly a rivalry when both competitors measure up to the other. There’s a reason you don’t talk about the Ripken brothers or marvel at Tommie Aaron’s home run total when discussing baseball history. Many historic players seem to have a brother who reached the show but languished in the shadow of their sibling. Here are 15 of the most interesting cases. For all you less talented siblings or least favorite offspring, feel free to open up in the comment section.
15 Jeremy Giambi (Jason Giambi)
There’s no better way to start if off than with two brothers who faced each other within the historic Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. Of course, Jeremy only played 50 games in one season with Boston (2003), while his older brother Jason spent seven seasons terrorizing pitchers in the Bronx. Born three years after Jason, Jeremy Giambi played outfield and first base in the majors from 1998 to 2003. In 2000 and 2001, Jeremy teamed up with his brother in Oakland. Jeremy compiled 171 hits, 22 home runs and 107 RBI in those two seasons. Jason, meanwhile, won the AL MVP in 2000 and placed second in 2001. His 43 home runs in 2000 are just nine shy of Jeremy’s career total, 52. One thing both brothers have in common is their admitted use of steroids. Once again, Jason must have been using a better supplier.
14 Ozzie Canseco (Jose Canseco)
From one set of steroid users to another – identical twins, Ozzie and Jose, played together as Oakland Athletics ten years before the Giambi brothers. Ozzie only appeared in nine games for the 1990 Athletics, tied for career high. He also played in nine games for St. Louis in 1992 and six in 1993. When Ozzie’s Major League career ended, he had 13 hits, four RBI, and zero home runs. Jose, who broke into the majors six years earlier, played until 2001. He won the 1986 AL Rookie of the Year, 1988 AL MVP and two World Series. Jose retired with 462 career home runs and 1,407 RBI. He wrote a tell-all book in 2005 and admitted steroid abuse while throwing other users under the bus. More recently, Jose has expressed regret over steroids and claimed they’re overrated. Ozzie used the same chemicals and failed to last in the majors. Although Jose makes a valid point, it’s also a dig at his twin brother’s natural skills.
13 Wilton Guerrero (Vladimir Guerrero)
The Guerreros are the third set of brothers in a row to play for the same team at some point during their careers. Wilton entered the league in 1996 as a utility player who could hit for average, but not power. His tenure with his first team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, was plagued by mental mistakes and a corked bat incident. When the Dodgers traded Wilton to the Montreal Expos midway through the 1998 season, he joined his younger brother Vladimir. The two played together until 2000, and then reunited once again after another trade sent Wilton from Cincinatti to Montreal in 2002. Wilton’s final Major League action came with Kansas City in 2004. He retired with 473 hits, 11 dingers, 127 RBI and a .282 batting average. The Guerrero brothers homered in the same game four times. Considering that Wilton only hit six homers as an Expo, that says something about Vladdy’s tremendous power. Vladimir was a nine-time All Star with a cannon for an arm. He won eight Silver Sluggers and the 2004 AL MVP. His career statistics dwarf his older brother’s: 2,590 hits, 449 home runs, 1,496 RBI and a .318 batting average.
12 Glenn Hoffman (Trevor Hoffman)
One brother played shortstop for three teams during the 1980s and had 524 career hits. The other logged 18 Major League seasons and is one of two men in history with 600 career saves. Drafted by Boston in the second round of the 1976 Draft, Glenn Hoffman spent the majority of his career with the Red Sox. His best season came in 1983, when he posted a .260 average with 123 hits, 24 doubles and 41 RBI. His ninth and final Major League season came with the 1989 Angels. Glenn was limited to 48 games and 104 at bats. Trevor Hoffman played 16 of his 18 seasons with the San Diego Padres. He retired with 601 saves, surpassed only by the great Mariano Rivera. The organization has retired Trevor’s number and inducted him into the Padres Hall of Fame. Although Glenn and Trevor never played together, Glenn served as San Diego’s third base coach during Trevor’s final years with the team. (PHOTO: Trevor, pictured second left. Glenn, pictured far right)
11 Mike Maddux (Greg Maddux)
Despite Mike having five years on his little brother Greg, both made their Major League debut during the 1986 season. Mike pitched his first game in June, while Greg did not debut until September. That was the last time Mike can say he got the upper hand as far as baseball goes. On September 29, 1986, Mike and Greg became the first rookie brothers in MLB history to face off against each other. Greg’s Cubs defeated Mike’s Phillies 8-3, as Greg allowed 10 hits but struck out seven. He also laid down a sacrifice bunt against Mike. The older Maddux went on to enjoy a journeyman career. He played for nine teams in fifteen years. He retired after the 2000 season with a 39-37 record. Greg fared slightly better: 355 wins, 3,371 strikeouts, eight All Star appearances, a World Series, four NL Cy Young Awards and 18 Gold Gloves. Both the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves retired his number. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
10 Chris Gwynn (Tony Gwynn)
This is all you need to know to confirm that Chris Gwynn played in the shadow of his older brother Tony. Chris spent the final year of his career, 1996, with the San Diego Padres. Tony played for the franchise from 1982-2001 and rightfully earned the nickname Mr. Padre. That means Chris was stepping into the batter’s box, in a Padres uniform, as “Mr. Padre’s baby brother.” Regardless of that, Chris found his time in the sun. Chris’ final Major League at bat came in the top of the 11th inning during the Padres’ closing game of the 1996 season. Needing a three-game sweep of the Dodgers to win an NL West Division Championship, Chris delivered a pinch hit double, which capped the series for San Diego. He retired after the season with a .261 average, 263 hits and 118 RBI. In comparison, Tony posed a career .338 average, 3,141 hits, 1,138 RBI and a slew of batting championships, Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers. He sadly passed away in 2014, seven years after his Hall of Fame induction.
9 Larry Yount (Robin Yount)
The Yount brothers are credited with 2,857 games played in the MLB. Robin Yount contributed 2,856 of those. Larry managed one. It gets worse. Robin Yount finished his career with 3,142 hits and 1,406 RBI. He won two AL MVP Awards and joined the Hall of Fame as a first ballot selectee in 1999. Larry, the older brother, made the history books for a different reason. He was drafted in 1968 and put together several strong campaigns as a Minor League pitcher. Larry debuted on September 15, 1971. The positive? He holds an astonishing 0.00 career ERA as a Major Leaguer. The negative? He hurt his arm warming up for a 9th inning relief appearance and never actually faced a batter. Due to being announced, he earned credit for an appearance. Larry rehabbed his arm and returned to the Minors. He soon struggled mightily with control and failed to receive a second chance in the show.
8 Butts Wagner (Honus Wagner)
Need a blueprint to ensure one sibling lags behind the other? Give one of them a nickname like “Butts.” Albert Wagner, known as Butts, played one Major League season in 1898. His brother, John – also known as Honus or “The Flying Dutchman” – of course had the better career. Butts split his lone season between the Washington Senators and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms. He managed a .226 batting average, one home run and 34 RBI. He had limited range as a fielder. Honus Wagner may have learned the game from his older brother, but he outdid him in every facet as a professional ballplayer. Honus played from 1897 to 1917. Hall of Fame manager John McGraw called him “The nearest thing to a perfect player.” Honus lived up to the praise. He played every position on the diamond other than catcher, has the 10th highest WAR of all time (131.0), retired with 3,420 hits and was named to the MLB All-Century Team.
7 George Dickey (Bill Dickey)
Both Dickey brothers played catcher and both lost playing time to service in World War II. George Dickey debuted for the Boston Red Sox on September 21, 1935. He made a 9th inning pinch hit appearance against his brother’s team, the New York Yankees. Upon seeing George step up to the plate, the game’s umpire reportedly told Bill, “This boy looks like a green kid. Call for one down the middle and give this kid a break.” Bill agreed to give him a break, but George claimed he didn’t want any favors. He then worked the count to 3-2 and hit a pop up to left field. After two years with Boston, George spent several seasons in the Minors. He caught on with the White Sox in 1941. The team mostly utilized him as a pinch hitter. Following George’s military service from 1943-1946, he played two final seasons with Chicago. His career batting average (.204) is more than .100 less than Bill Dickey’s. Bill played his entire career with New York, had a .313 average and won fourteen combined World Series as a coach and manager.
6 Ken Brett (George Brett)
All four Brett brothers played professional baseball. Two were career Minor Leaguers. George, the youngest, was a 13-time All Star, 1980 AL MVP, Hall of Famer and member of the 3,000-hit club. Although Ken was a solid player and a superb hitting pitcher (10 home runs, 44 RBI, and a .262 average in 347 ABs), he could not live up to George’s feats. Still, his career wasn’t shabby. Ken Brett became the youngest pitcher to appear in a World Series game in 1967. Only a month after his 19th birthday, he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings as a reliever for the Boston Red Sox. He was also the winning pitcher of the 1974 All-Star Game, once hit a home run in four consecutive starts, and gave up Hank Aaron’s 700th homer. After suiting up for ten teams in fourteen years, Ken retired with an 83-85 record and a 3.93 ERA.
5 Billy Ripken (Cal Ripken Jr.)
When someone breaks a record previously held by Lou Gehrig, chances are high that their brother will fall a bit short. In fact, whereas Cal Ripken proved one of the most consistent and durable players the sport has ever seen, Billy struggled with injuries due to his reckless style of play. He spent seven of 12 years in Baltimore alongside his brother. He retired with 674 hits, 229 RBI, and a .247 average. Billy forged a reputation for leaving everything on the field, especially as a fielder. He sits 27th in career fielding percentage among second basemen (.987) and 21st in Range Factor/9 inn (5.34). Billy also created quite the stir in 1989. He accidentally posed for a trading card using a batting practice bat that had “F--k face” written on it. Cal Ripken, a 19-time All Star, has not outdone his brother in that regard.
4 Rich Murray (Eddie Murray)
There’s little to say about Rich Murray’s Major League Baseball career. The San Francisco Giants selected Rich in the sixth round of the 1975 Amateur Draft. He broke into the Majors in 1980 and saw 194 at bats in 53 games. Within that small window to impress, he hit four home runs, 24 RBI and .216. He also saw four games of action in 1983. That’s it. His brother did the heavy lifting to put the Murray family name on the map. Eddie Murray went to the Orioles in the third round of the 1973 Draft. He reached the Majors in 1977 and never looked back. Remembered as an Oriole due to playing 13 of 21 seasons and winning a World Series in Baltimore, Steady Eddie also played for the Dodgers, Indians, Mets and Angels. He became the third player in history to record 3,000 hits and 500 home runs on his way to the Hall of Fame.
3 Tommie Aaron (Hank Aaron)
Tommie Aaron technically holds a record with his older brother Hank. They hit more home runs than any pair of siblings in Major League history – 768. Hank slugged 755 while Tommie added 13. Tommie spent all seven of his seasons in the Majors on the Braves with his brother. Intermittently sent down to the minors, he only had two years with over 150 plate appearances. He hit eight home runs his rookie year, but never sent more than two over the wall in a season after that. He retired with a slash line of .229/.292/.327 and a WAR of -2.8. Hank Aaron, who many still consider the true home run king, produced a 142.6 WAR (seventh all time) and hit .305/.374/.555. Over the course of 23 seasons, he made the All Star game every year except for his first and his last. Hank Aaron still has the most RBI (2,297) and total bases (6,856) in history, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame with 406 of 415 ballots.
2 Cloyd Boyer (Ken Boyer, Clete Boyer)
No one likes feeling overshadowed, but it’s even worse to be the third wheel. While Cloyd was a forgettable pitcher during the early 1950s, his brothers both played the hot corner. Cloyd played four seasons for the Cardinals and one for the Kansas City Athletics. He had a career record of 20-23 with a 4.73 ERA and 198 strikeouts. Ken Boyer was the most talented of the three. He hit the most home runs (282), RBI (1,141), and had the highest WAR (62.8). Although he also played for the Mets, Dodgers and White Sox, Ken’s greatest years came as a St. Louis Cardinal. He received seven All Star selections, won five Gold Gloves and captured a World Series title with the team. Clete lacked Ken’s prowess with a bat, but he made every play imaginable as a Yankees third baseman. He played in five consecutive World Series from 1960 to 1964, winning two and losing the last to his brother Ken.
1 Vince DiMaggio (Joe DiMaggio, Dom DiMaggio)
Vince DiMaggio could not outplay the legacies created by his two younger brothers. He roamed centerfield in the Majors from 1937 to 1946. Vince displayed a strong outfield arm, but he never had a way with the bat. He led the league in strikeouts in six of his ten seasons. His two All Star selections came when the other two DiMaggios were serving in World War II. To fully understand the shadow that plagued Vince, look at the 1941 season. Vince put up one of his greatest statistical years. He achieved career highs in runs (73), home runs (21) and RBI (100). That same year, Joe Dimaggio set his 56-game hit streak and won a second AL MVP. Dom also dealt with the shadow, and this list ends with how it began – two brothers entrenched in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. Dom once had a 34-game hit streak snapped by his own brother. He sent a line drive screaming into the outfield during his last at bat in a game against New York. Of course, Joe tracked it down in center. Dom played for ten seasons and reached the All Star game seven times. He was one of the best defensive center fielders in the league and would likely be in the Hall of Fame if he hadn’t lost three years of his prime to military service. Still, his accolades pale in comparison to The Yankee Clipper. Joe DiMaggio made the All Star game in all 13 of his seasons. He played in 10 World Series and won nine of them. He captured three AL MVP awards. To top it off, Joe even married Marilyn Monroe. At that point, it’s simply game over.
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