Ken Griffey Sr., Ken Griffey Jr. and Craig Griffey walk in the Kingdome outfield shortly after Craig was signed as a minor-leaguer by the Mariners in 1991. Seattle Times staff photo.
I’ve always had kind of a strange fascination with mismatched baseball brothers, perhaps dating back to my youth, when I first found out about Tommie Aaron. It seemed a cruel twist of fate for Hank’s younger brother to have gotten such the short end of the genetic stick (at least when it came to hitting a baseball; by all accounts, Tommie had a keen baseball mind and was headed to a productive career as a manager until being struck by leukemia). Tommy — who tragically died young in 1984 at age 45 — played parts of seven lackluster seasons in the majors, compiling a .229 batting average and socking 13 homers — a mere 742 fewer than Hammerin’ Hank.
I bring this up because of the news Wednesday that the Mariners had signed pitcher Moises Hernandez, older sibling of Felix, to a minor-league contract (with no invitation to major-league camp). It’s pretty clear by now that Moises, 26, does not possess the transcendent skills of his regal brother. Moises barely touched Triple-A (one game) in six seasons in the Baltimore and Atlanta organizations, and he didn’t play at all last year after the Braves let him go.
Now, maybe being in the same organization as Felix will reawaken the King that lurks within Moises. But so far he’s headed down the same road as former Mariner farmhands Craig Griffey and Shawn Buhner, who never could make it out of the minor leagues.
Here are some other second-fiddle baseball siblings over the years (click on the names to see their career ledger):
Yes, it’s an accomplishment to even get to the major leagues — or the minor leagues, for that matter. The point is not to demean these lower-achieving brothers, but rather to commiserate with them. It can’t be easy to watch your bro soak up the accolades while you struggle to survive in the game — though I can attest to the grace with which the likes of Mike Maddux, Chris Gwynn and Billy Ripken did just that. They carved out decent careers — just not Hall of Fame careers.
Last year, I happened to be flying to San Diego for a Mariners’ interleague series with the Padres when I noticed Felix Hernandez across the terminal at Sea-Tac, waiting for the same flight in my gate. Which was really weird, because the Mariners were playing a series in Texas. But as he and his traveling companions came closer, I realized it wasn’t Felix at all, but Moises, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his brother. It’s going to be fun watching him pitch this spring in Peoria — even if it’s on the minor-league diamonds.