Sometimes it’s all about the pedigrees. The first two picks in last week’s MLB draft – Jackson Holliday and Drew Jones – are the sons of former major league stars Matt Holliday and Andrew Jones.
Sometimes it doesn’t. Three major league players in the past 14 years are the sons of former LA Times sportswriters.
The sons of MLB players prone to crashing or throwing 90 mph fastballs are no wonder.
The sons of sportswriters who can do something a little more athletic than dripping mustard on their shirts while eating hot dogs and typing at the same time are truly amazing.
An apple from an apple tree.
With the exception of Dave Morgan and son Eli, in the second season as Cleveland Guardians pitcher; Ross Newhan and son David, who spent eight major league seasons with five teams; and Fernando Dominguez and son Matt, a Chatsworth High first-round pick with 42 home runs in 362 major league games.
Dave Morgan spent the first 20 years of his career as a writer and editor for The Times, rose to the rank of Associate Sports Editor, and then went on to senior positions at Yahoo Sports, USA Today Sports Media Group and Bally Sports.
Ross Newhan was a national baseball columnist who covered Angels and Dodgers for The Times from 1968 to 2004. joined the writers’ wing Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 2001.
Fernando Dominguez was an award-winning writer and editor in The Times sports department from 1990 until his retirement in 2020, a Cuban-born whose love of baseball made him a regular feature editor for the Dodgers and Angels.
Probably every sportswriter dreamed of becoming a professional athlete long before he picked up a pen and notebook. Not many dared to dream that their son would play in the big leagues.
What is an equivalent? A food writer whose child became a Michelin-starred chef? A political writer whose child becomes a member of Congress? A music critic whose child becomes a Grammy-winning singer?
And all from the same post? Rare, even more rare and rarest.
Dave and Eli Morgan were together at Dodger Stadium on Father’s Day last month, as has often been the case over the years. The difference was that Eli pitched.
In his second year with the Guards, Eli played 1 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dodgers, reducing his ERA to 1.62. He came in with one out in the seventh and eliminated Gavin Lux and Freddie Freeman. In the eighth, he followed Will Smith by knocking out three batters in a row. The Guardians took the lead in the ninth and Eli took the win.
It was a surreal experience for father and son.
“As a kid, he took me to Angels, Dodgers, Lakers games,” Eli said. “There was always a great connection with my father.”
Dave and his wife Diana often came to watch Eli play when he visited Gonzaga after graduating from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in 2014. He was drafted in the eighth round in 2017 and quickly rose through the junior years.
“They both have so many miles under their belts,” Eli said. “They came to a lot of my college games, a lot of minor league games.”
Eli became aware of his father’s status in sports journalism when BusinessWeek named Dave one of the 100 most influential people in sports in 2008.
“He was more behind the scenes as an editor and supervisor, but it was really cool for our family to see him get that recognition,” Eli said. “It meant a lot to us and I’m sure it meant a lot to him too.”
All three journalists missed countless chances to see their son play because they wrote or edited stories about other people’s sons.
David Newhan debuted in 1999 with the San Diego Padres but went through several organizations, missed a full season with an injury, and appeared to be unable to leave the A’s for good until he was called up to the Baltimore Orioles on June 18, 2004 “.
Ross was working at Dodger Stadium that evening and was watching the Orioles’ game against the Colorado Rockies on his laptop. David hit in the ninth inning and hit a home run.
In one of the highlights of the Hall of Fame baseball writer’s career, Ross Newhan allowed himself to yelp in the press box.
“I could only see the score of the box,” Ross said. “Here is the field, the ball is in play, and the next thing I see is HR. I gave a round of applause. [Times writer] Bill Shaikin sat next to me and he never let me forget it.”
Matt Dominguez was the third baseman for the Houston Astros during the series at Angel Stadium in August 2013. He got almost 100 tickets for family and friends, then went eight for 14 with two home runs in three games.
Fernando took time off to attend games on Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s series finale began at 12:30 p.m., so he stayed for six innings before leaving to get to Times Mirror Square in downtown Los Angeles to start his editing shift at 3:00 p.m.
“I remember turning on the radio in the car just before it landed,” Fernando said.
A three-run blast in the seventh inning was Matt’s fourth career hit of the game and gave the Astros an edge they didn’t concede from.
It wasn’t the first time Fernando missed his son’s winning home run. Matt played for the US junior team at the 2006 World Championships at the age of 16. Cuba hosted the tournament and it was held in the same city of Morón where Fernando grew up.
“It was a strange feeling to go there and drive through the streets where my father was born and raised,” Matt said. “He told me that Moron is famous big grill statueand here it is!”
Cousins he had never seen came to the semi-final game between the USA and Cuba. Fernando and his wife, Cindy, were watching the game on the Internet when the connection was lost at the beginning of the game.
The game was scoreless until the seventh inning when Matt hit a three-run home run. USA won 4-0. Fernando had to wait until the next day to read the Spanish-language reports of the game in Cuban newspapers.
“That was the case for most of his career,” Fernando said. “I was at work, following his game online with one open tab, and editing history with another.”
Being a baseball player at the highest level isn’t all about glitz and glory. Sportswriters are prepared for the arduous journey from junior ball to the big leagues, the game’s inherent setbacks, and the daily repetitive grind that even the best players face.
Newhan, Dominguez and Morgan lived through it all.
In a Father’s Day column in 2004, days after David’s home run against the Rockies, Ross wrote about “David’s baseball odyssey, which taught him that there are no guarantees and there is little to believe in except yourself.” even when it’s related to your father’s profession. “
Injuries cost David two seasons when he became a recognized player in the major leagues. He fought back and became a valuable utility player with the Orioles, Mets and Astros before retiring in 2011 at the age of 34.
Fernando wrote a column following Matt’s major league debut in 2011 and described the experience from a parent’s perspective: “I found it difficult to sleep that night as images of Matt’s baseball journey flashed through my mind: countless hours spent on youth fields and balls.” for balls, miles driven in our cars going to tournaments, games played in dusty bowls with insane start times early in the morning or late at night.”
Ross and Fernando were reluctant to write about their sons. They weren’t boastful and made sure the stories conveyed the problems their sons faced, which became more apparent as they reached the big leagues.
“Baseball is a tough game, it’s tiring,” Matt said. “My dad understood that baseball is every single day. He wanted to say something to me when I was at a low ebb, but baseball can break you more mentally than physically. He knew when to say something and when not to say it.”
Eli became independent early. In high school, he turned down a scholarship offer from nearby Chapman University and negotiated a preferential deal with Gonzaga without parental involvement.
“He’s not calling me to sort things out,” Dave said.
One of Dave’s proudest moments came at dinner after Eli was fired on for six runs in 2 2/3 innings on his debut on May 28, 2021 on a rainy night in Cleveland.
“As disappointed as Eli was with the result, he put it aside and made sure to enjoy the moment with his family and friends,” Dave said.
David Newhan is going through the same thing as his father many years ago. No, he’s not a Times sportswriter, but he has a son who dreams of playing baseball at the next level. Niko Newhan hit .530 and led the state with 61 hits in his junior season at San Diego Maranatha Christian Academy. Ross and his wife Connie rarely miss games.
David, 48, was a baseball coach with the Detroit Tigers in 2015-16 and then a minor league coach with the Angels and the Pirates. Niko fucked flies while training at Comerica Park and spent time in clubs just like his father did during his teenage years.
When Ross played for the Angels decades ago, David was welcomed at the club and on the field during spring training. Jimmy Reese struck him with a fungus. Reggie Jackson gave him a bat.
“That’s when I decided this is this is what I want to do,” said David. “Now everything has changed. As a writer’s child, that doesn’t happen anymore.”
When Fernando retired two years ago, he and his wife Cindy moved from Los Angeles to the Phoenix area, buying a house around the corner where 32-year-old Matt lives with his wife Brittany and two young children.
Eli, 26, is single and fully focused on helping the Guardians win. He throws one of the baseball the most effective substitutes and became a mainstay of the bullpen after 18 starts as a rookie last season.
He never wanted to be a sportswriter. Neither Matt nor David, who could have put it most succinctly when he was still a player.
“Playing seemed a lot more fun than writing,” David said. “My dad writes at home and I have seen him swear and yell at his laptop many times. I understand what a sportswriter goes through.”