In my community, we have a very active sports interest group that includes scores of avid baseball fans. Over the past five years, we've been fortunate enough to host wonderful presentations by sports legends who have been kind enough to visit us out of the goodness of their heart (we offer no compensation other than our thanks). Our guests have included writers, broadcasters, players like Josh Hamilton and Matt Williams as well as Hall of Fame members Ferguson Jenkins and Roland Hemond.
Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to meet both Jerry Hairston Sr. and Mike Bell. What makes their appearances unique is that they represent two of only four families in history to have three generations play in the Major Leagues. So, for today's history lesson, let's look at these baseball family trees and see what it would take to collect the baseball cards of each branch.
The first family to achieve the distinction (in 1992) of having the grandfather, father and son play in the "Show" was the Boones:
> Ray Boone played 13 seasons in the Majors beginning with the Indians in 1948...his best years came with the Tigers in the mid-50's when he made two All-Star teams...had a .275 career batting average with 151 home runs...his rookie card was in the 1951 Bowman set and is worth $40 in NM (near mint) condition.
> Bob Boone was one of the most durable catchers of his era and played 19 seasons starting in 1972...won seven Gold Gloves and accumulated over 1,800 hits...his rookie card can be found in the 1973 Topps set and books for $15.
> Bret Boone was an outstanding 2B who made his debut in 1992 and played 14 seasons...he won four Gold Gloves and hit over 250 home runs...the low $2 price of his 1991 Upper Deck rookie card is reflective of the over-production from that era.
> Aaron Boone followed his brother to the Majors in 1997 and played 12 years which included an All-Star appearance in 2003...will always be remembered for his walk-off home run for the Yankees against the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS...his 1995 Bowman rookie card is also $2.
In 1995, the Bell family became the second in this elite company:
> David "Gus" Bell came to the Majors in 1950 as an outfielder with the Pirates and went on to play 15 seasons...his prime years were with the Reds and he made four All-Star teams between '53 and '57 while accumulating over 200 home runs and a .281 lifetime batting average...the 1951 Bowman set is where you'll find his rookie card and it will set you back $60.
> David "Buddy" Bell was an excellent 3B who broke in with Indians in 1972 and played 18 seasons...six Gold Gloves and over 2,500 hits gives you an idea about his consistency...he later managed the Tigers, Rockies and Royals...his rookie card from 1973 Topps is about $3.
> Mike Bell played 13 professional seasons starting in 1993 and was a member of the Reds in 2000...had over 20 home runs twice at the Triple-A level and is now the highly respected farm director of the Diamondbacks...he was still a teenager when his rookie card appeared in the 1994 Topps set.
The Hairstons became the third family in 1998:
> Sam Hairston was a member of the Negro Leagues in the late 1940's and became the first African-American to play for the White Sox in 1951.
> Sam's brother, John Hairston, was the next family member in the Majors when he appeared briefly for the Cubs in 1969...he played professionally for seven seasons.
> Jerry Hairston Sr. made his debut with the White Sox in 1973 and played 14 seasons as a Major League outfielder with a .258 lifetime batting average...his rookie card can be found in the 1974 Topps set.
> Jerry Hairston Jr. came to the big leagues in 1998 and is still active, having played for the Dodgers this year where he hit .273...an indispensable utility player, he can fill in all over the diamond...his rookie card is in the 1998 Fleer Update set.
> Junior's brother, Scott Hairston, is the most recent addition to the family legacy...he came up in 2004 and just completed a very productive season in 2012 where he hit 20 home runs for the Mets...the 2000 Bowman Chrome set is where his rookie card can be found.
In 2010, the fourth family joined this elite list as the Colemans came on board:
> Joe Coleman pitched only one game for the Athletics in 1942 before spending three years in the service during World War II...he returned to the A's in '46 and spent 10 seasons in the Majors, notching 52 wins in the American League...his career included an All-Star appearance in 1948...his rookie card from 1950 Bowman is valued at $25.
> Son Joe Coleman (not a Junior) came to the Majors in 1965, only 10 years after his dad retired and had a 15-year career...had solid production with 142 victories and posted 20, 19 and 23 wins in consecutive seasons for the Tigers in the early 70's...his 1966 Topps rookie card is about $3.
> Joseph "Casey" Coleman became the 3rd generation member of the clan when he joined the Cubs in 2010...he has split time over the last three years between Chicago and their Triple-A affiliate in Iowa...his rookie card is in the 2010 Topps Pro Debut set.
Maybe the next goal for our speaker committee (it's one very hard-working guy) is to arrange visits next March from a Boone and a Coleman while they're in Arizona for Spring Training. It would certainly be a feather in our cap to hear the personal stories of all four families with this select history.