Die-hard baseball fans attending Wednesday night’s Sky Sox game against Albuquerque may have recognized some last names in the opposing team’s lineup.
The Isotopes (72-53) started a trio of players in their 11-5 win over Colorado Springs whose fathers played in the major leagues, further proof that baseball is a family game passed down from generation to generation. Tony Gwynn Jr., the son of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, Scott Van Slyke, son of longtime major leaguer Andy Van Slyke, and Ivan De Jesus Jr., whose father Ivan had a 15-year career from 1974-88, all contributed.
De Jesus Jr. was 3-for-4 with a season-high four RBIs and a run, Gwynn Jr. had a double, an RBI and run, and Van Slyke walked twice and scored in the ninth as Albuquerque evened its four-game series with the Sky Sox (65-60) at 1-1.
Isotopes manager Lorenzo Bundy is enjoying the efforts of his second-generation trio as his squad stands in first place in the Pacific Coast League’s Southern Division.
“When you grow up in a big league locker room, a lot of that stuff rubs off on you, and it definitely has for those three,” Bundy said. “There are little similarities between all of them (and their fathers), and they have that good baseball gene and have been very productive players for us.”
Van Slyke, 26, has played 10 games for the Dodgers this season and is batting .322 for the Isotopes as he tries to earn a permanent big league position like his father enjoyed from 1983-95. Van Slyke said the common trend in baseball of sons following their fathers isn’t widely discussed among players.
“Honestly, it never gets brought up, but it’s a big theme in our organization, I guess,” Van Slyke said. “(Baseball) is just a part of who you are, and you grow up with it. Obviously, if your dad has a love of the game, you’re going to absorb it. (Playing in the majors) was a lifelong dream, and hopefully I’ll get back and get another chance.”
De Jesus, 25, has played 23 games in the majors this season and is batting .300 for Albuquerque. He, Gwynn and Van Slyke are enjoying every day as professional players.
“I’ve been around a baseball field since I was 2 or 3 years old, and it’s just fun being around these guys and being a professional baseball player,” De Jesus said. “It’s fun following in your father’s footsteps, and I’m trying to work hard every day and do my thing. Our goal is to just go day by day and play good baseball.”
Gwynn Jr., 31, batted .232 in 103 games with the Dodgers this year before being designated for assignment to Albuquerque on Aug. 6.
*Austin Bibens-Dirkx’s appearance in the sixth inning for the Sky Sox marked the 37th pitcher used by the team this season, a new record for the club. The previous record for pitchers used in a season was 36 in 2007.
*On Tuesday night, Michael Cuddyer became the 13th player in Sky Sox history to homer in his first at-bat with the team. He was the first since Eliezer Alfonzo in 2011 and just the second player since 2003 to accomplish the feat.