On deck: Weaver vs. Weaver

June, 19, 2009
6/19/09
11:00
AM ET
If, as planned, Jeff Weaver faces Jered Weaver Saturday night, according to the Los Angeles Daily News:
 Jered Weaver
 Jeff Weaver
    It will be the first time brothers have faced each other in a big-league game since 2002 when Alan Benes of the Cubs faced Andy Benes of the Cardinals. Brothers have squared off against each other 20 times in history, with Joe and Phil Niekro matching up nine of those times. In 1996, the Dodgers' Ramon Martinez faced his brother Pedro of the Expos.
Cool. I've already set my DVR. But the one thing I want to know, I don't yet: which set of brothers will the Weavers be? The Niekros, the Beneses, and the Martinezes account for at least 11 of the 20 previous matchups.

Because you pay good money (not) to read this blog, I did a little research of my own, and discovered that:

Virgil Barnes and Jesse Barnes faced off for the first time in 1924, and would meet three more times;

• Greg and Mike Maddux met twice, first in 1986 when both were rookies, and then again two years later;

• by special arrangement, Pat Underwood's major league debut in 1979 was against his brother Tom (and what a matchup it was!);

• the Underwoods, the Martinezes, and the Beneses faced off just the once,

• as did Gaylord and Jim Perry, in 1973.

So that's the whole list, right? Wait, let me run through the math ... Nope, still missing one. We've got seven sets of brothers accounting for 19 matchups: the Niekros nine times, the Barneses four times, the Madduxes twice, and four other sets once apiece. Nineteen. Assuming that I didn't miss a game for one of the aforementioned pairs, a lovely No-Prize goes to whomever can identify the eighth brothers and drop them into the comments.

Postscript: For a long time the most famous pitching brothers -- until the Perrys and the Niekros, I guess -- were the Coveleskis, Stan and Harry. Stan's in the Hall of Fame, and Harry was notorious as "The Giant Killer" after beating John McGraw's New York Giants three times in the last two weeks of the 1908 pennant race. As Stan later recounted to Larry Ritter in The Glory of Their Times:

    "Giant Killer" Coveleski they called him after that. They say McGraw never forgave Harry for that. A lot of nonsense. They also say that the Giants ran Harry out of the league next season. Something about harmonicas or bologna or something. Supposed to have gotten Harry's goat. What a load of bull that story is.

    Nobody ever ran Harry out of any league. What happened is that he got hurt the next season. Went back down to the minors for a few years. But his arm came back later, and he came back up with Detroit and did fine. He was with Detroit when I was with Cleveland. They always wanted us to pitch against each other, but we refused. Wouldn't do it. And they never forced it. Hard to say what would have happened if they had.

That was nearly a century ago, and managers had a great deal of leeway with their starters, who might pitch after one day of rest or six days, depending largely on the opponent of the day. So if a pitcher simply refused to pitch for a personal reason, it wasn't any great imposition to accomodate him ... except that teams in those days were always looking for ways to draw a crowd, and Coveleski vs. Coveleski would have been a good draw.

Apparently it never happened, though.

Post-Postscript: If you've hung around for all this historical claptrap, you deserve a nugget ... One of my all-time favorite little baseball factoids ... Joe Niekro pitched in the majors for 22 seasons and came to the plate nearly 1,200 times ... and homered just once ... against his brother. And it wasn't a meaningless home run, either. In the seventh inning of a tight game, Joe's homer made the score 2-2 and he eventually won, 4-3.

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