Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oh Brother!: Ten Athletes with Far More Successful Brothers

Marc Brown once wrote: "Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero". Well, what happens when you're brother is a superhero? Imagine, if you will, if you were the brother of the President of the United States. On one hand, it'd be awesome to be the president's brother, you'd probably get some special perks and maybe even your very own secret service agent. Plus, being the sibling of a president probably helps when you are trying to pick up the ladies. But on the other hand, there's always going to be a slight tinge of jealously deep in the back of your mind about your brother's success. You would have to ask yourself at one point, how could he be the President, and I ended up a failed restaurateur, or an alcoholic farmer, or a mechanic, or whatever. Well, these ten men below know what it's like to be in the shadow of a more famous brother. Some of these men chose to follow their older brothers into their respective fields, while others had to sit back and watch as their younger brothers became big time starts while they toiled in relative obscurity. So, without further adieu, here's a list of ten athletes whose careers fell short of their brothers'.

10. Paul Messier - Paul Messier was drafted in the third round of the 1978 NHL Draft by the Colorado Rockies (now New Jersey Devils). His brother, Mark, was drafted in the third round by the Edmonton Oilers. Paul, a center, hurt his shoulder and only played nine games for the Rockies in 1980 without scoring a point before moving on to play for a variety of minor league teams in the U.S., Canada, and West Germany. Mark, meanwhile, became a hockey legend, finishing his career second all-time in points and winning six Stanley Cups. However, being the brother of a legend hasn't been all bad for Paul, as, according to Wikipedia, Paul spends his days in the Bahamas running a restaurant owned by Mark.

9. Michael Garciaparra - Where as Michael's big brother Nomar is a two-time former batting champion and married to former soccer superstar Mia Hamm, Michael has been slumming it in the minor leagues ever since being drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2001. A shortstop when he was drafted, Michael was a below-average defensive player and has not hit enough to pick up the slack. Currently, Michael is in the Houston Astros' organization, playing for their Triple-A affiliate. At 27, it's unlikely that Michael will reach Nomar's level of success, and he may not even get to the Major Leagues.

8. Eric Angle - Eric is the older brother of professional wrestler and Olympic Gold Medalist wrestler Kurt Angle. Both Eric and Kurt participated in Amateur Wrestling, but obviously, Kurt was much more successful in that field. When Kurt signed with the WWF, Eric followed in his footsteps and went to the WWF's training facility to become a pro wrestler. Although Eric had a few moments in the WWF, usually disguised as his brother Kurt, injuries curtailed his career and Eric retired in 2003. Kurt, meanwhile has become one of pro wrestling's bigger names, though perhaps Eric was better off, as at least he didn't do this:

7. Derrick Gervin - Derrick's older brother George had a cool nickname "The Iceman" and led the NBA in scoring four times. Derrick, meanwhile, was a good player at UT-San Antonio, where he recently had his number retired. However, after being drafted in 1985 by the Philadelphia 76ers, he failed to make the club, and played all around Europe and in the CBA before the New Jersey Nets gave him a shot in 1989-90, where he played two seasons with the club. According to the 1991-92 Basketball Almanac, Gervin was the type of player who could score in a hurry when his shot was falling, but was likely to give up more points than he scored on the defensive end and couldn't, or wouldn't pass. In 77 career games, Gervin averaged 8.8 points, although he did once light up the Atlanta Hawks for 34, proving once again that the Hawks suck.

6. Larry Yount - The older brother of Hall of Famer and two-time MVP Robin Yount. Larry has perhaps the shortest career in Major League Baseball history. In 1971, Yount was a young pitcher for the Houston Astros when, on September 15, he was called upon to relieve. However, during warmups, Yount hurt his elbow and therefore was unable to pitch, and was replaced with another reliever. Try as he might, Yount never got another chance to pitch in the Major Leagues before retiring from baseball in 1976 and going into real estate. Robin, meanwhile, played a mere 2,856 games in the big leagues, while Larry never even got to throw a pitch in the one game he appeared in.

5. Dan McGwire - Dan's brother Mark was kind of a big deal in baseball, where he hit over 500 home runs including 70 in 1998. Dan's sport was not baseball, but rather football, where in 1989 and 1990 he was a big-time college quarterback for San Diego State. In the 1991 NFL Draft, the Seahawks had their choice of either McGwire or Brett Favre to become their quarterback of the future. According to's Mike Sando, then head coach Chuck Knox wanted the team to select Favre, but instead ownership decided to pick the 6'7" McGwire. McGwire may have been tall, in fact he was the tallest quarterback in NFL history, but the Seahawks might have been better off if they had Mark behind center. In his five year career, McGwire was either hurt or ineffective, and only threw two touchdown passes in his career. However, at least Dan didn't sell out his brother Mark to make money on a tell-all book, as their other brother Jay has done recently.

4. Brent Gretzky- When you're brother is called "The Great One" and has more NHL records than McDonalds has hamburgers, there's going to be a bit of pressure on you when you decide to follow in his footsteps and play hockey. Brent didn't quite have the career of his older brother, as he scored four points over two seasons for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brent was too small (160 lbs) and too slow a skater to last in the NHL. Instead, Brent has crafted a long career in hockey's minor leagues, playing for such teams as the Ashville Smoke, Fort Wayne Komets, and the Motor City Mechanics. Well, I guess it goes to show that not everyone is meant for greatness.

3. Brett Lindros - Brett's older brother Eric was considered hockey's next big thing in 1994, so the New York Islanders decided that they should get the next best thing and drafted Lindros 9th overall in that year's NHL Draft. Brett had the size of his older brother, and played hockey with an ornery edge. Unfortunately for Brett, he didn't have the skill of Eric and had an alarming habit of suffering concussions. After four concussions in a six month span, Brett was forced to retire from hockey at the age of 20 after a mere 51 games played in the NHL. It's hard to say whether Brett would have developed into a top notch player, as he did have the size but only scored 2 goals in his 51 games. Eric, meanwhile, would win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player in 1995, and had a solid career that unfortunately, was also derailed in part due to concussions.

2. Craig Griffey - Craig's brother is Ken Griffey Jr., only one of the best players in recent baseball history. His father is Ken Griffey Sr. a solid ballplayer in his own right. So the Seattle Mariners, who in 1991 employed both Ken Griffeys, decided to take a flyer on Craig in the 42nd round of the 1991 MLB Draft. Was it a pick based on nepotism? Absolutely. However, it was the 42nd round and you're not likely to find a future star by that point, so there's no real harm in giving Craig a shot and hoping you get lucky. The Mariners did not strike paydirt on this pick, as he never made it past Triple-A, and only played three games at that level. In six years in the minors, Craig hit .224 with a .291 slugging percentage. He could steal a base if he managed to actually get on, but that was about it.

1. Ozzie Canseco - Ozzie's probably my favorite of the not-so-famous brothers. Not only did he follow his identical twin Jose into major league baseball, he also followed him into the world of steriods, and even reality TV, as he once appeared on an episode of The Surreal Life impersonating Jose in front of other washed up celebrities. Ozzie actually started out as a pitcher in the New York Yankees organization before the Oakland Athletics decided to movie Ozzie to Jose's position in right field and see if they could make "Double Trouble" for opposing pitchers. That worked about as well as you would expect, as Ozzie would provide fans of minor league baseball a cool breeze from his constant swings and misses. He could hit it a far way if he made contact, but he didn't make contact nearly enough. Over a span of three seasons, Ozzie played 24 games for both the Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, hitting .200 and failing to hit a home run. Ozzie's had some legal troubles over the years. In 2001, he and Jose got into a fight with some tourists at a Miami night club, an incident which led to Ozzie receiving 18 months probation. In 2003, Ozzie was sentenced to four months in jail after being charged with illegal possession of anabolic steroids. It remains to be seen if Ozzie will follow his brother Jose into mixed martial arts. Personally, I hope so, as you can never get enough of Ozzie Canseco.

Honorable Mention: Marcus Vick, Chris Von Erich, Eric Moss, Craig Bradshaw, Jordan Palmer, Billy Ripken, Wayne Primeau, Byron Sanders, Chris Gwynn, Wilton Guerrero, Fedor Fedorov, Steve Kariya, Vic Howe, Alain Lemieux, Rocky Trottier, Steven Larkin, Mike Maddux, Henry Mathewson, Rich Murray, Butts Wagner, Tommie Aaron, Mike Glavine, Darren Flutie, Jack Thorpe, Ed Mikan.

Well, thanks for reading. I'm sure I've missed a couple of not-so-famous brothers, so feel free to correct me if you think of one. If you have any thoughts about this posts, or ideas for future reviews or posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an email at

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