clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Brothers as Teammates in MLB

A brief look at siblings as teammates throughout MLB history, including a ranking of all the brothers who played together on the Indians.


Just weeks after signing B.J. Upton, the Braves traded for his brother, Justin. As anyone who remembers my fawning over Justin Upton in November already knows, I'm something of an Upton groupie, so my initial reaction was jealousy. When you factor in that I've also got something of a crush on Jason Heyward (we Jasons have to stick together), clearly I'm quite taken with Atlanta's new outfield, which I think is probably the second-best in baseball now, after only Anaheim.

Last August both Upton brothers hit their 100th career home run on the same night, a pretty neat coincidence (and quite a night for Mother Upton, I'm sure). At the time, I wrote about where the Uptons ranked among all the siblings in MLB history. There are a lot of impressive families on that list, and I don't think the Uptons have done enough to even crack the top twenty yet. Now that they're teammates though, they join a more exclusive list.

According to Baseball-Almanac (and my own counting skills) since the National League began play in 1876 there have been 100 sets of brothers that played as teammates, on Opening Day the Uptons will become the 101st. I thought it would be fun to pick out some tidbits of information about those who've played on the same team as their brother(s) and then rank the brothers who played together for the Indians.

* The Alou, Cruz, and Wright families are the only in history to have three brothers play as teammates at the same time. George, Harry, and Sam were all together on the 1876 Boston Red Stockings (they eventually became the Braves), Hector, Jose, and Tommy Cruz were on the 1973 St. Louis Cardinals, and Felipe, Jesus, and Matty Alou were all teammates on the 1963 San Francisco Giants.

* Arthur and John Irwin, Roberto and Sandy Alomar, and Lloyd and Paul Waner are the only brothers to play as teammates on three different teams. The Irwins spent one season together with the Worcester Ruby Legs, one with the Washington Senators, and one with the Boston Red Stockings. The Alomars spent time together on the Padres, Indians, and White Sox. The Waners spent most of their careers as teammates on the Pirates, but also played together on the Braves and Dodgers.

* The Braves have had the most sets of brothers, with 9 (the Uptons will be #10). The Pirates have had 8 different sets and the Cardinals have had 7. The Giants have had 6 sets, including the Alou trio. The Athletics lead the American League with 6 different sets.

* There have been 137 seasons since the National League was organized in 1876 (the American League dates to 1901). There has been at least one set of brothers playing as teammates in 112 of those 137 years. The longest streak of such years was from 1911 to 1945, 35 straight seasons with sibling-teammates. From 1957 to 1965 there were at least two sets of brothers playing as teammates. The longest stretches without any brothers playing together lasted just three seasons, first from 1899 to 1901 and then again from 1949 to 1951.

* In 1884 there were six sets of brothers playing as teammates, which is the most ever: Dan and Dennis Casey, Larry and Mike Corcoran, Bill and Ed Dugan, Barney and Frank McLaughlin, Jimmy and Lou Say, and Fleet and Welday Walker.

* Lloyd and Paul Waner played together for a record 16 seasons. Joe and Luke Sewell were teammates in 10 seasons, while Hank and Tommie Aaron, Mort and Walker Cooper, and Billy and Cal Ripken were all together in 7 different seasons.

*Lloyd and Paul Waner are the only brothers to play as teammates and both be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame as players (George and Harry Wright were both inducted, but Harry was inducted as a manager).

* All told there have been 19 players inducted to the Hall of Fame as players who spent time during their career playing with their brother(s): Hank Aaron, Roberto Alomar, George Brett, Fred Clarke, Dizzy Dean, Ed Delahanty, Buck Ewing, Rick Ferrell, Tony Gwynn, Barry Larkin, Christy Mathewson, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, Cal Ripken, Joe Sewell, Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner, Zack Wheat, and George Wright (Tom Glavine, Vladimir Guerrero, and Pedro Martinez all stand a good chance of joining that list in the next 5-10 years).

* There have been five pairs of brothers to play together for the Indians/Naps. Here they are, ranked on their production while teammates in Cleveland:

5) Dave and Vean Gregg (1913) - Vean played eight seasons in the Major Leagues, four with the Indians (1911-1914). He was a great pitcher for the Tribe, with an ERA of 2.31 (ERA+ of 140) in 898.1 innings. He won twenty games three times, including 1913, when he played with his brother. They sit at the end of the list though, because Dave played but one game in the Major Leagues, allowing two runs in one inning, with a hit batter and two balks along the way.

4) Bill and Harry Hinchman (1907) - Bill played ten seasons in the Major Leagues, three of them with the Naps (1907 to 1909). An outfielder, his OPS in those three seasons was just .656, which was actually good for an OPS+ of 108 back then (Dead Ball!). Harry spent a few weeks with the team in 1907 (the only weeks he ever spent in MLB), playing second base and batting .216, with an OPS of .599.

3) Gaylord and Jim Perry (1974-1975) - Pitchers Jim and Gaylord played together with the Tribe in 1974 and the first few weeks of 1975 (Jim was traded in May. Three weeks later Gaylord was traded too). In that time, Jim pitched 289.2 innings, with an ERA of 3.45 (making him roughly league average for that time) and Gaylord pitched 401.2 innings with an ERA of 2.69, making him one of the best pitchers in baseball (he deserved the 1974 A.L. Cy Young but was thwarted by two lesser pitchers winning 25 games).

2) Roberto and Sandy Alomar (1999-2000) - Sandy played catcher for the Indians from 1990 to 2000. Roberto was the Tribe's second baseman from 1999 to 2001, so they were together on the team for two full seasons. During 1999 and 2000, Sandy played just 134 games, but was still a league-average hitter, as catchers go. Roberto's time in Cleveland was arguably the peak of his career. In the two years he played with his brother, Roberto had an OPS of .903, played in two All-Star Games, won two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers, and finished 3rd in the 1999 A.L. MVP voting.

1) Joe and Luke Sewell (1921-1930) - Joe began his career in 1920 with the Indians and played for them through 1930. Luke's career began a year later, also with Cleveland. They were teammates for ten years. From 1921 to 1930 Luke (a catcher) played in 767 games. While said to be a solid defender, he couldn't hit a lick. His line for those years was .259/.315/.335, good for an OPS+ of 67 (his career OPS+ of 70 is 15th worst in history among non-pitchers with 5,000+ PA). Joe, on the other hand, was the best shortstop in baseball during the 1920s, worth an average of more than four WAR a season during the years he played with Luke. He finished in the top ten of the MVP voting four times and his career OBP of .391 is third-best in history among shortstops. Joe's stellar play and he and Luke's long tenure as teammates makes them an easy choice for the top spot on this list.