Fathers and sons

Which father-son pitching major league duo holds the record for most combined wins? I believe the answer is Mel and Todd Stottlemyre with 302, followed by Dizzy and Steve Trout with 258.

Which combo holds the record for most wins plus saves? The answer is still the Stottlemyres with 304, I think.

For second place, though, the answer changes. It’s Dick “Turk” Farrell and Richard Dotson with 300.

But Farrell never knew Dotson and Dotson didn’t know that Farrell was his father until 2018.

Turk Farrell was an outstanding pitcher (106 wins, 83 saves, four all-star game appearances) and a legendary night owl. With the Philadelphia Phillies, he was part of “the Dalton Gang that closed bars all over the National League circuit. Once, Farrell visited the old hideout of the real Dalton Gang. He wrote to a friend: “Stopped off at the old hideout. Brought back memories. Takes a while to raise a new gang, but will start soon.”

In 1958, Farrell hooked up with a Cincinnati woman. Nine months or so later, she gave birth to Richard Dotson. It’s not clear whether Farrell knew about the child he had fathered or if he was ever in contact with the child’s mother again.

Richard Dotson was raised by his mother and her husband. It seems that the mother and father had been married previously, but not at the time Dotson was conceived. They later married each other again.

Farrell finished his major league career in 1969. He played in the minor leagues for a while before quitting the game in 1971.

Eventually, he became a safety supervisor for an oil drilling operation in England. In 1977, he was killed in an automobile crash in Great Yarmouth, England.

Three days before Farrell died, the California Angels drafted Richard Dotson in the first round of the free-agent draft. That winter, they dealt him to the Chicago White Sox.

By 1979, the 20 year-old right hander had made his major league debut. The next year, he was in Chicago’s starting rotation (along with Steve Trout).

In 1983, Dotson won 22 games for Chicago. The next year, he was an all-star.

Unfortunately, Dotson did not inherit his biological father’s bionic arm. Plagued by arm problems, he was out of baseball by the end of 1990, at the age of 31. He career record: 111-113.

Dotson’s mother used to say there was a family secret, but the pitcher had no inkling that it involved him. However, he took an ancestry test a few years ago and in 2018 was notified by a stranger who had also taken the test that they were first cousins. That’s how he learned that Turk Farrell was his biological father.

Dotson began digging into Farrell’s career. Looking at baseball cards, he found he resembled Turk.

Dotson acknowledges that his father had the more impressive career of the two. Farrell pitched longer, had a better ERA, made more all-star teams, and had all those saves. However, Dotson might have equaled or surpassed Farrell if his arm had held up.

This year, in lieu of fans, teams are populating portions of their stadiums with cardboard cutouts. Dotson asked the White Sox to put up cutouts of father and son — Dotson and Farrell — sitting side-by-side behind home plate. The team was happy to oblige.

Dotson’s first cousin, Farrell’s niece, who discovered the connection says:

It’s like a storybook. You know, there’s something unique about baseball, in terms of how people remember their first ballgame. They remember who took them to their first ballgame. There’s something about baseball where that’s just a really treasured experience.

So how cool, after all these years, that even with these crazy cardboard cutouts, that Richard is going to be able to have that experience and be at a game with his dad?

Very cool.

Via Jayson Stark at The Athletic.

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