Father-son combos common in baseball

Tim Raines admits it is probably an advantage for an aspiring young ball player -- like his own son Tim Jr. -- to have a father playing in the major leagues.

"It's an advantage because they're around the game and they know the big league style," Raines said Wednesday upon rejoining the Montreal Expos a day after a history-making triple-A game against his son in Ottawa.

"Playing in the minors is something my son didn't know about. Now, he knows how difficult it is to play in the minor leagues and he has to make it over that hump to play in the big leagues."

Raines hopes Tim Jr. becomes the next of an impressive string of sons of major league players who have not only made it to the majors, but in some cases become bigger stars than their dads.

No better example was in the visitors' dugout -- Barry Bonds -- whose chase of Mark McGwire's single-season home run record has helped the San Francisco Giants become NL pennant contenders.

Bonds, son of former Giants outfield star Bobby Bonds, went into the game with a team-record 54 homers, well on pace to break McGwire's record of 70.

And in what can be called fathers-and-sons week at Olympic Stadium, the Giants will be followed in this weekend by the Cincinnati Reds, who are led by superstar Ken Griffey Jr., whose father was a home run king in the 1980s and later played with his son in Seattle.

It doesn't stop there. Expos pitcher Tony Armas Jr.'s father was a star outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, while Giants' closer Rob Nen's dad was Dick Nen, once a pitcher for the California Angels.

Other sons of major leaguers now starring in their own right include former Expos Moises Alou, whose father Felipe was a star player and manager, and David Segui, whose father Diego was big league pitcher in the 1960s.

Toronto's Jose Cruz Jr. and former Blue Jay Roberto Alomar also had big league dads.

Raines hopes to match the Griffeys by playing in the majors at the same time as his son.

Raines, 41, worked hard in rehabilitation to recover from a left shoulder strain that required surgery on May 31.

He missed 96 games with the injury.

Back for the final five weeks of the season, he hopes Tim Jr. gets called up from the Rochester Red Wings to their parent club, the Baltimore Orioles, when the triple-A season ends at the end of the month.

"The main goal is for us to play in the big leagues at the same time," said Raines. "It would be great if he gets called up."

During a double-header on Tuesday with the Ottawa Lynx, Raines got to play against his son, the first time in professional baseball a father and son played on opposing teams.

Raines may even play another season to help make it happen in the big leagues.

The irony about sons following in their fathers' footsteps is that major leaguers don't see their sons play much because they are always either on the road or at the ball park.

Of his own sons, Tim Jr. and Andre, who is into track, Raines said: "They grew up around their mother. I didn't get to see my son play more than four or five high school games because the seasons coincided.

"The only time I got to watch him a lot was last year when I didn't play."

Raines said the important thing was that "we didn't try to put pressure on our sons. It was up to them.

"It's enough pressure to be one of our kids."

By Bill Beacon