Father and Son Combinations in Indians History
Bob Toth | On 21, Jun 2020
Baseball and Father’s Day have often gone hand in hand, but this year, the former is nowhere to be found as fathers across the country celebrate the day without the presence of the national pastime.
A total of 240 fathers with Major League Baseball experience have welcomed their own sons into the Show, including 16 fathers who had a pair of sons expand the baseball family tree. Quite a few of those names have spent time in the city of Cleveland during their playing careers.
In honor of the holiday, we take a look at the six proud father-son duos to both wear an Indians’ jersey during their times on a Major League diamond (also, this serves as a good piece of Cleveland Indians trivia to boot).
The earliest of the father-son pairings in the Indians organization were the Bagby’s, a pair of quality pitchers for the club. Father Jim Bagby, “Sarge”, pitched for the Indians from 1916-1922, winning 31 games during the club’s world championship season in 1920. His son, Jim Bagby, born late in his father’s first season in Cleveland in 1916, returned home in 1941 after spending his first three big league seasons with the Boston Red Sox. He was an All-Star in 1942 and 1943 and spent five of his ten MLB seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.
The Averill’s were not too far behind the Bagby’s. Father Earl Averill was a late bloomer, making his big league debut at the age of 26 memorable when he homered in his first career at bat in 1929. Eleven of his 13 years in the Majors came in Cleveland and included six straight All-Star trips from 1933 to 1938. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975 by the Veteran’s Committee and his number three was retired by the Indians that season. Son Earl Averill Jr., born in Cleveland, played for the club in 1956 and 1958 before time with both Chicago clubs, the Los Angeles Angels, and the Philadelphia Phillies.
One of the more popular duos in team history remains the Francona’s. Father Tito Francona played his best MLB seasons in Cleveland from 1959 to 1964, making his only All-Star team in 1961 and garnering MVP votes in his first season with the club. Following his 15-year career, son Terry Francona played 62 games for the Tribe in 1988 in year eight of ten in the Majors before finding much greater success as the manager of the Phillies, Red Sox, and currently with the Indians. His father passed away in 2018.
Buddy Bell is part of a unique family dynamic in baseball history. His father, Gus Bell, was a star outfielder primarily for the Cincinnati Reds in a 15-year career. Buddy, a five-time All-Star, topped him with 18 years spent in the big league game, including his first seven with the Indians. He had a pair of sons play after he retired in 1989, with David Bell making his two-game debut with the Indians in 1995 (he later returned to Cleveland for parts of the 1998 season) while son Mike Bell played 19 games for Cincinnati in 2000.
Dave Duncan was teammates with Bell with the Indians in his two years in Cleveland in 1973 and 1974 and later became a successful coach at the Major League level. He had a pair of sons reach the Bigs, with son Shelley Duncan spending the 2010-2012 seasons with the Indians as an outfielder, first baseman, and designated hitter in the lineup.
When the Indians acquired Mark Carreon from the San Francisco Giants for the playoff push in 1996, he became another member of the father-son duos to play with the Indians. His father, Cam Carreon, spent 19 games with the club in 1965 as a catcher. Mark played 38 games down the stretch for the Tribe, hitting .324 in his final big league action.
For more on baseball’s family ties in Cleveland, feel free to read up on the baseball dads and the baseball sons to spend time at League Park, Municipal Stadium, or Jacobs Field/Progressive Field during their respective careers.
Photo: Cleveland Indians photo archives