It’s that magical time of year. The time of year when the grills are afire and the Coors Light are acoolin’. What better way to celebrate dear old dad than with BBQ, beer, and baseball?
Throughout the course of sports history, there have been quite a few powerful gene pools across the major US sports. Every one knows about Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds, and if you don’t, you really need to put down the Dungeons and Dragons and come outside for a little while. The Bonds’ father and son duo combined for 1094 drug induced home runs over their notorious careers and stand as one of the most famous combos of all time. The Griffey’s were so nice, they had to name them twice! Ken and Junior not only combined for 782 home runs themselves, they actual hit back-to-back bombs in the same game. When my dad and I bonded, he snuck me to get ice cream when my mom said I couldn’t have any. These two were bashing back to backers. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad and I love ice cream, but the closest me and my dear old dad came to baseball immortally was when he coached my 3rd grade little league team (which Wayniac Nation’s own Sport Illuminati was a member of 31 years ago!).
The Manning boys will probably go down as one of the most famous father and son combos in all of sports. Archie Manning, one of the NFL’s biggest losers (he finished his career 35-101-3 as a starting QB), gets to win championships and set records vicariously through two sons in Peyton Manning and Eli Manning that surpassed him in talent after their rookie seasons. Somehow, we still have to see and hear Archie Manning all too regularly as if he is some football guru because his little men produced some good gunslinging offspring.
Father and son duos span across all sports. NASCAR has the Pettys and the Earnhardts and the NHL had Brett and Bobby Hull as well as Mark and Gordie Howe. Baseball has had tons, like Aaron Boone and his family for example. The Alomars were all good at their craft and Roberto Alomar made the Hall of Fame. The Ripkens were also baseball royalty. Cal, Sr. produced two sons: Cal Ripken had a nice career, but of course, Billy Ripken is the most well known for his infamous baseball card that a fellow team mate wrote obscenities on as a joke. Sometimes, you even get a cross mutation like the Hill boys. Calvin Hill was a Rookie of the Year and All Pro running back for the Dallas Cowboys while his son, Grant Hill, played on one of the greatest college basketball teams of all time, snagged himself an NBA Rookie of the Year Award, and was an All-Star many times himself.
So, who is amongst the new wave of father/son combos? Who has a chance to put their name on the list of future all-time great father/son duos? In honor of this day of dads, let’s take a look at the up and coming father son duos looking to make a name for themselves.
TOP FIVE CURRENT FATHER/SON SPORTS DUOS:
They are certainly the largest father/son duo of all time. Cecil Fielder was well known for being a mediocre first baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays who disappeared to Japan for the 1989 season. He returned to smash 130 home runs over the next three seasons and become one of the prime power hitting superstars of the early ’90s. He was able to win a World Series ring when he came over at the trade deadline in 1996 to the New York Yankees. He proved to be a factor in some of the biggest moments of that run. Prince has had the luxury of being part of two different formidable 3-4 threats in the lineup for the earlier part of his career. He batted behind Ryan Braun for the first seven years of his career and then behind Miguel Cabrera in his Triple Crown winning season. This season ended prematurely for Prince Fielder with a devastating back injury. It will be curious to see if he can bounce back and add to his numbers.
5. Barry Sanders and Barry Sanders, Jr.
Barry Sanders, Jr. is entering his junior season at Stanford University. He has already made the highlight reel, showing flashes of his pop’s ankle breaking, lightning fast juking ability. Go ahead and take a look! If he turns out to be half the player his father was, the NFL will have another All-Pro running back to watch. Barry, Sr. is arguably the greatest running back of all time. He never had much of a line and would have to run 20 yards in the opposite direction in order to gain ten yards and a first down in the right direction. He had four consecutive 1500 yard rushing seasons which culminated in his 2053 yard monster year. He abruptly retired in 2000 when many felt he had enough legs left to break every rushing record there was. Maybe Junior will get to have his shot.
4. Dante Bichette and Dante Bichette, Jr.
Some people love to blame it on Colorado or the scandalous era of baseball he happened to play in, but truth be told, there is no denying that Dante Bichette’s run with the Rockies was one of the best in the MLB from the mid to late 90s. In his 7-year run with the Rockies from 1993-1999, Bichette averaged 29 home runs a season, led the league in dingers with 40 in 1995, and batted under .300 only once (in 1999 when he hit .298). DBJ is currently in the Yankees’ farm system playing third base for the Tampa Yankees High-A affiliate. He is just 21-years old and has really begun to progress this season. This past weekend he finished third in the Florida State League Home Run Derby and started the FSL All-Star Game.
Austin Rivers certainly hasn’t stuffed the box scores in his first two pro seasons, but he was a one-and-doner. Some of these guys who come out after one year of college have a hard time adjusting to the speed of the NBA game. The Pelicans are a young team and with a budding star in Anthony Davis this team will mature and grow together. Doc etched out a career as a solid court general primarily for the Hawks and the Knicks. He played during a time of John Stockton, Magic Johnson, Mark Jackson, and Tim Hardaway, so he was never going to be in the top point guard discussion, but he definitely had a nice career. Of course, he has now made a name for himself as one of the top coaches in the NBA.
2. Clay Matthews and Clay Matthews III.
The Matthews are a football factory of a family (how about that for some fancy alliteration?) Clay the father was the heart of a Cleveland Browns defense that would perennially lose to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game in the late 80s. He was a tackling machine that was a four time All-Pro who registered 65.5 sacks and 16 career interceptions as a well rounded defender. If it weren’t for injuries, his son Clay III would have already surpassed him. In just five seasons with the Green Bay Packers, he has already amassed 50 sacks, that’s ten a season for those of you who still have to use your fingers for math. When he is healthy and on the field and the long hair is flowing in the cold Green Bay air, there isn’t much less of a scarier site in all of the NFL… unless of course you are lined up opposite JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney (GO TEXANS!!!)
Howie Long is one of the greatest defensive lineman to suit up in the NFL. Part of the hard nosed silver and black attack of the 80s, Howie put up an astonishing career. The Hall of Famer was named one of the starting defensive ends of the All-1980s team, he registered 84 career stats, was a back-to-back All-NFL First Team, won two Super Bowls, and was a Pro Bowler numerous times. All of these astounding numbers earned him a role in the critically acclaimed (or is it panned?) smash film Broken Arrow, aside film legends John Travolta and Christian Slater. While Chris Long may never achieve the legendary Hollywood stardom of his dad, he has jumped out to quite the start of a dandy of an NFL career. In six seasons, he has amassed 50.5 sacks for the St Louis Rams. This defense is on the rise, however, and Long may start to become the beneficiary of more sacks and more notoriety. It will be interesting to see if he can surpass his pop’s sack total when it is all said and done with.
Well there you have it, folks. I want to send out a warm Happy Father’s Day to Wayniac Nation’s own ACC-Insider and Golf Expert, Mike Dunton for raising two awesome daughters. Of course, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my D O D, so Happy Father’s Day, daddy-o. Hope you get to hit the links down in sunny old Florida while Mickelson implodes on day four of the US Open!