“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”…..The Hollies

Justin Upton joined big brother BJ Upton in the Atlanta Braves outfield last week when the Diamondbacks traded him along with third baseman Chris Johnson for all-star Martin Prado, pitcher Randall Delgado and three Braves prospects.

BJ Upton (L) was the Rays first pick (2nd overall) in the 2002 draft, kid brother Justin was the number one overall pick of the Diamondbacks in 2005.

When they take the field together on April first, they will become the 91st pair of brothers to play on the same team and the 15th pair to be teammates in the 21st century.

The trade set my wheels a turning and I thought it would be fun to take a look at some brotherly tidbits of major league baseball.

Jack and Bill Gleason were the first brothers to play as teammates when they shared the infield with the St. Louis Brown Stockings in 1882. Bill was the shortstop and Jack was the third baseman. 

They were not related to this Jackie Gleason.

Without a doubt the best big league brother story belongs to the brothers Alou and it occurred in 1963 when Felipe, Matty and Jesus played together with the San Francisco Giants.

Matty, Jesus and Felipe Alou in 1963, Felipe was the Giants right fielder in 1963.

Jesus made his major league debut on September 10, 1963 when he pinched hit for shortstop Jose Pagan. It marked the first time in baseball history that three brothers appeared on the same team in the same game, a 4-2 loss to the New York Mets at the Polo Grounds. A week later they made history again when they patrolled the outfield together in Milwaukee’s County Stadium  in an 11-3 Giants win.

Felipe and Matty were Giant teammates from 1960-1962 before the arrival of Jesus in ’63’. Felipe was traded to Milwaukee in 1964 and Jesus and Matty remained Giant mates until Matty’s trade to Pittsburg in 1966. Felipe and Matty were reunited with the Yankees in 1973. Collectively they played 47 years in the big leagues.

The Red Sox have had four pair of brothers suit up in their clubhouse, the first were the brothers Gaston on the 1929 team. They were not only teammates but battery mates as well. Milt pitched and Alex caught.

Milt Gaston was 12-19 for the 1929 Red Sox.

Alex Gaston was in his final year of a six-year career. He caught 55 games with the Sox hitting .224 with two home runs.

The 1929 Red Sox finished in 8th place in 1929, with 58 wins and 96 losses.

The next pair of brothers donned Red Sox uniforms in 1934 and they were also battery mates.

Pitcher Wes Ferrell (L) pitched to his brother Rick from 1934 into the 1937 season.  

Wes was 14-5, 25-14, and 20-15 while pitching to his brother in three full seasons with the Red Sox. Rick was a four-time all-star with the Red Sox and he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown by the Veterans Committee in 1984.

The Ferrell brothers played a significant role in restoring the Red Sox to respectability after Tom Yawkey purchased the team in 1933. They were reunited as teammates with the Washington Senators in 1937 and 38.

It would be three decades before Red Sox brothers would make it to Fenway Park and these brothers came out of a fairy tale. Anthony and Williams Conigliaro were both local kids who were raised in the northern Boston suburb of Swampscott Massachusetts.

tony and billy c

Billy (L) joined brother Tony on the Red Sox in 1969.

Tony’s story is a familiar one and is woven into the fabric of Red Sox folklore. Signed as an amateur free agent in 1962 out of St. Mary’s High School in Lynn Massachusetts, he spent one year in the minor leagues playing for the Red Sox A league affiliate in the New York Penn League. He made the jump to the major leagues in one year and in his first at bat in Fenway Park he jacked one over the left field screen. He was 19!

He became the youngest player to win a league home run championship, with 32 round trippers in 1965, the youngest player in American League history to 100 career home runs and was on a path to superstardom when on August 18, 1967 he was derailed by a Jack Hamilton fastball which nearly killed him. He missed the entire 1968 season and his career was thought to be over. However he battled back and was in the lineup on Opening Day 1969 in Baltimore.

Younger brother Billy was the Red Sox first pick in the 1965 draft out of Swampscott High School. He was in the dugout when Tony made his electrifying comeback in Memorial Stadium, which included a 10th inning home run. He made his big league debut as a pinch runner on April 11, 1969 in Cleveland Stadium as the Red Sox prevailed in a 16 inning 2-1 win. He stole a base in the top half of the 12th and his first start came five days later at Fenway Park when he played right field in place of his brother. He more than filled big brother’s shoes going 2-4 with two home runs in an 11-8 loss to Earl Weavers Orioles. The next day found him at the top of the order and his torrid hitting continued as he went 3-5 off Jim Palmer, including another homer.

On April 20th, the brothers appeared in the starting outfield together for the first time. With Billy leading off and playing center (1-3 with a run scored) and Tony batting sixth in right (2-5 with a run scored and an RBI) the Red Sox beat the Indians 9-4.

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Billy and Tony C. were a Boston sensation for two Fenway Park seasons.  

In 1970, Tony amassed career highs in home runs (36) and RBI (116). Appearing to be all the way back from the injury of 1967, the Red Sox thought otherwise and stunned the baseball world when on October 11th they traded him to the California Angels.

Tony’s vision problems resurfaced in California and in July of 1971 he retired from the Angels. Hearing the news kid brother Billy went on a tirade in the Red Sox clubhouse, pointing a finger at Red Sox superstar Carl Yastrzemski.  “Tony was traded because of one guy — over there,” he said indicating Yastrzemski, Yaz “got rid of Pesky, Ken Harrelson, and Tony. I know I’m next. Yaz and Reggie [Smith] are being babied, and the club better do something about it.” The club did do something about it. On October 10th, one day short of a year to the day that Tony was traded to California, Billy was part of a blockbuster nine player deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The last pair of Red Sox brothers played together in 1999 and 2000 and both were pitchers.

 Ramon and Pedro Martinez pitched for the Red Sox in 1999 and 2000.

Signed in March of 1999, Ramon battled injuries throughout the season and pitched only 20 innings. However he did get a bird’s eye view of what perhaps may be the most dominant year any pitcher in baseball history has ever experienced. For in 1999, Ramon’s baby brother Pedro was in a word electrifying. He astonished the baseball world going 23-4 with a league leading ERA of 2.07 and 313 strikeouts. In light of what is now known about the “Steroid Era” this particular season become even more astonishing!

Ramon recovered and in 2000 was the Red Sox number three starter going a very respectable 10-8, the second most wins on the staff, behind guess who? Pedro continued his dominance going 18-6 with a microscopic 1.74 ERA and a league leading 284 strikeouts. It garnered his second straight Cy Young Award.

Ramon was granted free agency in November of 2000 and finished his career with a season in Pittsburgh. Pedro continued his journey into Red Sox folklore and baseball history. A journey that will culminate in July of 2014 when he takes his rightful place beside the immortals of the game in those hallowed halls in Cooperstown New York!

Nothing quite like a band of brothers…..



About fenwaypark100

Hello and welcome, my name is Raymond Sinibaldi. An educator for more than two decades, a baseball fan for nearly 60 years, I have authored four books about baseball and her glorious history; with a fifth on the way in late spring of 2015; the first, The Babe in Red Stockings which was co-authored with Kerry Keene and David Hickey. It is a chronicle of Babe's days with the Red Sox. We also penned a screenplay about Babe's Red Sox days so if any of you are Hollywood inclined or would like to represent us in forwarding that effort feel free to contact me through my email. In 2012 we three amigos published Images of Fenway Park in honor of the 100th birthday of Fenway Park. That led to the creation of this blog. The following year, 2013 came my first solo venture, Spring Training in Bradenton and Sarasota. This is a pictorial history of spring training in those two Florida cities. The spring of 2014 brought forth the 1967 Red Sox, The Impossible Dream Season. The title speaks for itself and it also is a pictorial history. Many of the photos in this book were never published before. The spring of 2015 will bring 1975 Red Sox, American League Champions. Another pictorial effort, this will be about the Red Sox championship season of 1975 and the World Series that restored baseball in America. I was fortunate enough to consult with sculptor Franc Talarico on the “Jimmy Fund” statue of Ted Williams which stands outside both Fenway Park and Jet Blue Park Fenway South, in Fort Myers Florida. That story is contained in the near 300 posts which are contained herein. This blog has been dormant for awhile but 2015 will bring it back to life so jump on board, pass the word and feel free to contact me about anything you read or ideas you may have for a topic. Thanks for stopping by, poke around and enjoy. Autographed copies of all my books are available here, simply click on Raymond Sinibaldi and email me.
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