“Dear old Daddy, you’ve been more than a mother to me” — lyric cited by Gene Autry

July 9, 2010

HERM DOSCHER

One of the wonderful things about baseball is that it provides players with so many ways to be remembered — and many of  those  ways have little or nothing to do with success on the field.

Herm Doscher was an example. So was his son, Jack. In fact, together they constitute one example, because they were the first father and son combination to play the major leagues. Herm played third base for five different teams in the National Association and the National League from 1872 to 1882 – a spotty career for which there don’t seem to be a lot of statistics – and he was later a major league umpire. He was reputed to be hard-nosed in that role. He once ejected Rochester Broncos outfielder Sandy Griffin for arguing a call and, when Griffin wouldn’t leave the field, Doschler forfeited the game to the St. Louis Browns — who were leading 10-3 in the eighth inning anyway.

Jack Doscher (actually John Henry Doscher Jr.) was a pitcher from 1903 to 1908 with three teams including the Brooklyn Superbas, appearing in only 27 games. Doscher died in 1971 at the age of 90 and was at one point recognized as the oldest surviving player for the Brooklyn Dodgers, successors to the Superbas.

NICK SWISHER

The Doschers come to mind today because Major League Baseball announced this evening that Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher had been elected to the All Star Team. Whatever one thinks of the wacky manner in which those players are chosen these days, Swisher last season and this has made a good case for himself on the field. This is the first time Nick Swisher has been named to the All Star team,  and it puts him in an exclusive baseball group — fathers and sons who have made the team. Swisher’s dad, Steve – a National League catcher for 10 years in the ’70s and ’80s – was on the 1976 team when he was with the Cubs, although he didn’t get to play. One of Steve Swisher’s colleagues on that ’76 team was Ken Griffey Sr., whose son also became an All Star — many times.

Altogether, 195 men who have played in the majors had sons who followed. A handful had two sons make it to the bigs. Three men — Sammy Hairston, Ray Boone, and Gus Bell — sent sons and grandsons to the majors. The Hairstons hold the record for multigenerational families with five major league players, although the Delahanty family had five of the same generation.

STEVE SWISHER

The Swishers are the tenth family to have a father and at least one son on the All Star team. (There have been three such families in the World Series.)

I was introduced to baseball by my father, who had managed a semi-pro team and knew a lot about the game. I would like to have been a better baseball player for his sake, but that gene went missing. Dad never expressed any disappointment about my weak performance; he wasn’t cut out that way. We made up for it with the many hours we spent together watching the Yankees in the Bronx and on TV or listening to them on the radio in our grocery store. We did other things together, but baseball provided the strongest bond. Dad’s been gone for more than 30 years, but I still watch baseball with him in mind. Meanwhile, it’s fun to speculate about the satisfaction Steve Swisher must be deriving from Nick’s success in general and from this benchmark in particular.

Steve Swisher cuts Nick Swisher's hair in 2007 on the field at the Oakland Coliseum. Nick Swisher had let his hair grow for 10 month so that he could donate it to a program that assists cancer patients.

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2 Responses to ““Dear old Daddy, you’ve been more than a mother to me” — lyric cited by Gene Autry”

  1. bronxboy55 Says:

    You have a wonderful ability to thread together people and events widely separated in time and context. I especially appreciate the research you do, as well as the personal recollections.

    I remember Gus Bell. I had several of his baseball cards, and knew that he played for the Mets in their opening season. I also knew Buddy Bell was his son, but wasn’t aware that he had a grandson who played in the major leagues. Now I feel really old. (I don’t appreciate that.)

    Another great post!

    • charlespaolino Says:

      I know how you feel. My wife and I are devotees of Arlo Guthrie, whom I used to refer to as “Woody’s kid.” When our oldest daughter was about 17, she asked us if we had “ever heard of Arlo Guthrie.” She’s in her mid 40s now, and she and her brother and my wife and I go together to one of Arlo’s concerts at least once a year. Now, that means hearing not only Arlo, but his children and his grandchildren who, of course, are “Woody’s great-grandkids.” Tempus, indeed, fugit, which would be all right if we weren’t fugiting along with it.

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