Friday, August 19, 2022

MLB All-Star Game: Willson, William Contreras are fifth set of brothers to play together in Midsummer Classic

LOS ANGELES — National League All-Star manager Brian Snitker revealed his starting lineup Monday afternoon in Dodger Stadium. Perhaps the most notable thing about it was how similar two of the names looked. 

6. Willson Contreras

7. William Contreras

The Contreras brothers — Willson (Chicago Cubs) and William (Atlanta Braves) — are both All-Stars. They are both starting. And they are batting back-to-back. Nice touch by Snitker. 

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They’ll become just the fifth pair of brothers to start together in an MLB All-Star Game. The others: 

  • Mort Cooper (P), Walker Cooper (C), 1942 and 1943
  • Dixie Walker (OF), Harry Walker (OF), 1947
  • Joe DiMaggio (OF), Dom DiMaggio (OF), 1949
  • Roberto Alomar (2B), Sandy Alomar, Jr. (C), 1991 and 1992

The Walker brothers batted back-to-back (leadoff and second) and the Alomars hit 8-9 in 1991, making the Contrerases the third set of brothers ever to do so in the Midsummer Classic.

Willson, 30, has been in the Cubs‘ system since 2009, when he signed as an amateur free agent as a 17 year old. He’s a three-time All-Star who has appeared in 30 playoff games and won a World Series ring as a rookie. William, 24, has only appeared in 102 big-league games and has just one postseason plate appearance. 

Willson is incredibly proud of his younger brother without coming across as protective. He lights up when asked about him. It’s fair to call him William’s biggest supporter, even if it’s a bit cliché. And throughout the season, Willson has been telling William they’d be here together. 

“Willson was confident I would make it,” William said. “When I made it, Willson called and said ‘I told you. You will come with me to L.A.'”

“There’s nothing you can’t do with hard work,” Willson said. “One thing about baseball, I think it’s the most important thing, is mental adjustments. It’s something that all the players need to do to keep growing up.” 

William has grown up quite a bit this season. He spent most of April with Triple-A Gwinnett, but since being recalled to the majors he’s been tearing it up at the plate. He has 11 home runs in only 154 at-bats. He’s walking more and striking out less. 

And now he’s joining his brother, the experienced All-Star. 

“I told him to enjoy everything that comes with being at the All-Star Game,” said the elder Contreras. “He’s gonna find himself in the middle of a lot of stars, legends like [Albert] Pujols and Miggy [Cabrera]. There’s [Paul] Goldschmidt, [Freddie] Freeman and he’s gonna look around and say, ‘Wow, I’m here.’

“I didn’t want to share my experiences because I wanted him to experience it.” 

He’s doing just that, with his big brother right by his side — and hitting in front of him in the NL lineup. That’s a pretty cool experience. 

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