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Nurturing Child’s Baseball Dreams

Ever since I first picked up a baseball as a kid, I’ve been in love with the game. There’s something incredibly captivating about the sound of a ball hitting a bat, the tactical maneuvering of a well-played game, the deep-rooted camaraderie between teammates.

Field of Dreams at Night

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of baseball is its unique capacity to bridge generations, to create a tangible lineage within the sport.

There’s no better example of this than the father-son duos that have graced the Major League Baseball fields over the years.

So, in this post, I wanted to uncover the secrets of father-to-son familial dynasties and how fathers transfer their baseball knowledge and skills to their sons.

Statistical Improbability

The journey from Little League to the Major Leagues is certainly a daunting one, with only a small fraction of players making it to the highest level of professional baseball. 

Let's break it down with some rough estimates:

Starting with Little League: There are approximately 2.6 million children participating in Little League baseball worldwide each year (that's just Little League, Inc. so the 2.6M figure excludes other youth baseball players).

High School: Not all Little Leaguers continue playing through high school, but for those who do, the competition becomes much stiffer. In the U.S., there are roughly 500,000 high school baseball players.

College: Only about 7.3% of high school players will go on to play at the college level, according to the NCAA. This means about 36,500 players.

Professional: Of those college players, the NCAA estimates that only about 10.5% will get drafted by an MLB team. That's approximately 3,800 players. This number also includes international signings, who did not play in the U.S. college system.

Major Leagues: Of those who are drafted and sign a professional contract, only a small percentage will eventually make it to the Major Leagues. Estimates vary, but a 2013 study found that about 17.6% of players who were signed to minor league contracts eventually made it to the MLB. That would be about 670 players.

So, if you start with 2.6 million Little Leaguers, only about 670, or 0.0258%, will eventually make it to the Major Leagues. To put it another way, that's roughly 1 in every 3,880 Little Leaguers.

These are very rough estimates, and the actual percentages can vary based on numerous factors. But it's clear that the path from Little League to the Major Leagues is extremely competitive, and only a tiny fraction of players will make it all the way.

Father-Son Duos in Baseball

Children of MLB players may have certain advantages over other young players, although it’s important to note that many factors contribute to a young athlete’s development and eventual success.

Consider the legendary Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. duo.

Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. (Bill Chan/ AP)

Ken Griffey Sr., an integral part of the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine” in the 1970s and was a three-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion.

He raised his son Griffey Jr., around the world of baseball and imbued him with the same passion and love for the game, as well as his baseball knowledge and techniques, who would later become one of the greatest players in baseball history.

Here is Ken Griffey Jr.’s fascinating journey from high school to Major League Baseball:

High School Years

  • Ken Griffey Jr. attended Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, a school known for its strong athletic programs.
  • Griffey Jr. excelled at baseball during his high school years and caught the attention of professional scouts.

1987 MLB Draft

  • After graduating from high school, Griffey Jr. was selected by the Seattle Mariners as the first overall pick in the 1987 MLB Draft. His father, Ken Griffey Sr., was a professional baseball player himself, and the family was well-known in baseball circles.

Minor League Career

  • Griffey Jr. began his professional career in the minor leagues. In 1987, he played for the Bellingham Mariners of the Short-Season A Northwest League, where he hit .313 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs in 54 games.
  • In 1988, Griffey split the season between the San Bernardino Spirit of the Class A-Advanced California League and the Vermont Mariners of the Double-A Eastern League. He combined to hit .327 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs in 75 games.

Major League Debut

  • After a strong performance in Spring Training, Griffey Jr. made the Mariners’ Opening Day roster in 1989, making his debut on April 3, 1989, at the age of 19.
  • In his first MLB at-bat, Griffey Jr. doubled off of Oakland Athletics’ pitcher Dave Stewart.
  • Griffey Jr. finished his rookie season with a .264 average, 16 home runs, and 61 RBIs. He also made several spectacular defensive plays in center field and finished third in voting for the American League Rookie of the Year.

Subsequent Success

  • Griffey Jr.’s talent was undeniable and he quickly became one of the most popular players in the game.
  • He made his first All-Star team in 1990, his second season in the majors, and won his first Gold Glove Award for his outstanding defensive play in the outfield.
  • Over the next decade, Griffey Jr. became one of the most accomplished players in baseball, with multiple All-Star selections, Gold Glove Awards, and Silver Slugger Awards. He was also named the American League MVP in 1997.
  • Over his career, Griffey Jr. played for the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox, hitting 630 home runs (currently 7th all-time as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021) and earning a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Griffey Jr.’s progression from high school to the Major Leagues is an example of a supremely talented player quickly making an impact in the Major Leagues.

Then there’s the incredible Bonds family. Bobby Bonds, a three-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner, became a source of guidance for his son, Barry Bonds.

Despite the controversies that marred Barry’s career, there’s no denying his impressive achievements, including seven MVP awards and the record for the most home runs in MLB history. Barry often attributed his success to the lessons he learned from his father.


So what are some of these intangible advantages of having a former MLB player as your father?

Genetic Advantage

Let’s be honest, a significant part of this familial success in baseball could be chalked up to genetics. Just as you might inherit your mother’s eyes or your father’s laugh, the children of professional athletes often inherit physical attributes that lend themselves well to sports.

This isn’t to say that every child of an MLB player will become a superstar, but they certainly have a leg up in the genetic lottery.

From my research on genetics and sports medicine, it’s clear that elements such as hand-eye coordination, speed, power, and even certain aspects of endurance can be genetically influenced. It’s like getting a head start in a marathon.

Access to Training and Experience

Of course, there’s the matter of access and exposure.

MLB players have the best resources at their disposal—top-tier coaching, advanced training facilities, nutritionists, and more. They understand the game on a deep level, and this knowledge can be passed down to their children. It’s like having your very own personal coach at home.

I read interviews of many players who recounted how they used their resources to provide their children with the best training possible.

For instance, Dante Bichette, a four-time All-Star, had a successful 14-year career in MLB. His son, Bo Bichette, currently a standout player for the Toronto Blue Jays, grew up with a batting cage in his house, constant access to his father’s seasoned advice, and an insider’s perspective on the professional game.

It’s clear that this early exposure and high-quality training played a key role in Bo’s development as a player.

Skills and Knowledge Transfer

Beyond mere access to training, these MLB fathers are reservoirs of knowledge and experience that they pass on to their sons.

From teaching them the mechanics of a swing, understanding the strategies of the game, to even figuring out how to read a pitcher, these dads have imparted valuable lessons that have proven instrumental in shaping their children’s careers.

Take the case of the Alomar family.

Sandy Alomar Sr., a respected second baseman and coach in MLB, raised his sons, Roberto and Sandy Jr., to be stalwarts of the game. Roberto, a Hall of Fame second baseman, and Sandy Jr., a six-time All-Star catcher, both have mentioned how their father’s instruction from an early age was vital in their understanding and approach to the game.

Roberto, in particular, often spoke about how his father’s advice on defensive techniques and footwork became the foundation of his Gold Glove-winning fielding skills.

The Mental Side of Baseball

Baseball, like any other sport, isn’t just about the physical. Mental toughness, resilience, and a strong work ethic are just as important as being able to hit a fastball. Here too, MLB dads have a wealth of experience to share with their kids.

Tom Gordon was a three-time All-Star pitcher, who spent 21 years in the big leagues and his son, Dee Strange-Gordon (a two-time All-Star himself), shared how his father’s guidance on staying grounded and focused despite the ups and downs of the game was crucial to his own career.

“It’s about staying even-keeled,” Dee said. “Can’t get too high with the highs or too low with the lows. My dad taught me that.”


Being the child of a famous MLB player isn’t all fun and games.

It comes with its own set of pressures and expectations that the younger player must navigate through. Every game, every at-bat, every move scrutinized, compared to their famous dads. But many of these baseball progenies have managed to carve out their own identities, their own legacies.

Take for instance, Prince Fielder. The son of Cecil Fielder, a formidable power-hitter in his own right, Prince had a stellar career that included six All-Star appearances and three Silver Slugger Awards. I remember an interview where Prince was asked how he dealt with the pressure of being compared to his father.

He simply smiled and said, “I just play my game. I’m not my dad. I’m me. And I’m trying to be the best ‘me’ I can be.”

So Is there a “Secret Sauce” to success?

While “secret sauce” might not be the most accurate term, there is certainly a wealth of knowledge, skills, and insights that professional baseball players can pass down to their children. These might include:

  • Technique: A deep understanding of the mechanics of hitting, pitching, fielding, and base running can be taught and honed over many years. This includes things like the proper swing technique, the fundamentals of fielding a ground ball, or the mechanics of different types of pitches
  • Strategy: Baseball is a game full of intricate strategies. Understanding different situations and how to respond to them, such as when to steal a base or how to pitch to a certain type of hitter, can provide an advantage on the field
  • Mental Approach: The mental side of baseball is just as important as the physical side. Techniques for staying focused, managing pressure, staying consistent, and maintaining confidence can be extremely valuable
  • Preparation: Learning how to properly train, practice, warm up, and cool down is essential. This also includes understanding the importance of nutrition, rest, and recovery
  • Understanding the Game: Baseball has a lot of unwritten rules and traditions. Having a parent who has been immersed in the sport can provide a deeper understanding and respect for the game
  • Work Ethic: Perhaps one of the most important things an MLB player can pass down to their child is the understanding of the hard work and dedication required to excel in baseball. They can provide first-hand insight into the discipline, commitment, and perseverance required to reach and succeed at the professional level

Takeaways for Parents

Now, what does all of this mean for you, as a parent looking to help your child succeed in baseball? It’s simple.

First, encourage a love for the game. Instill in them a sense of respect and admiration for the sport. Whether it’s watching games together, playing catch in the backyard, or discussing baseball history over dinner, nurture their passion for baseball.

Second, provide them with the best resources you can afford. This doesn’t mean you need a state-of-the-art training facility at home. Even access to a local baseball league, a good coach, or a few hours each week at a nearby batting cage can make a significant difference.

Third, teach them the fundamentals. Good technique goes a long way in baseball. If you’re knowledgeable about the game, pass on that wisdom. If you’re not, that’s okay. There are plenty of resources available, from local coaching clinics to that can help you guide you and your child.

Fourth, emphasize the importance of a strong work ethic and mental resilience. Teach them that success isn’t just about talent, it’s about effort, persistence, and a positive attitude. After all, batting 300 means you are failing 7 out of 10 times!

And finally, let them be their own person. Don’t push them to be the next Babe Ruth or Derek Jeter. Encourage them to be the best version of themselves.