Baseball is a twisty-turny game that build all sorts of bridges, and sometimes … families.
Take Chip Lang, for example.
The Montreal Expos selected the righthander in the second round of the 1970 MLB Draft, and he spent most of the next six summers in their farm system.
In September of 1975, though, the Expos brought him up, and then he toiled most of 1976 with the big club. At the end of that Bicentennial season, Lang’s Big League record stood at 1-3 with a 4.36 ERA — and there it would stay for all time.
Lang was back in the minors in 1977, and then spent 1979 (after skipping 1978) in the Pirates minor league system before bowing out of the game at the age of 26.
His 1976 season, though, during which he made 29 appearances for the Expos landed him a really nifty 1977 Topps card …
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And a slightly less exciting 1977 O-Pee-Chee card …
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Our story might end there, with those cards, and with those final two games in the Pirates’ organization, but there’s more.
See, back in 1971, the Expos took a guy named Tom Walker from the Orioles in the Rule 5 Draft. As luck would have it, both Walker and Lang ended up in the rotation at Triple-A Memphis.
It’s not entirely clear to me what all events transpired from that point on, but what I do know is that Lang’s sister, Carolyn, eventually became Walker’s wife — and that couple begat current Big Leaguer Neil Walker.
And more than that, former Tigers utility man Don Kelly, married their daughter, Carrie.
In case you were wondering, Tom Walker finished his pro career in 1978, just a year before Lang hung up his spikes … in the Pirates farm system. Sound familiar?
And, as a final thread running through the whole Lang-Walker-Pirates family saga, Tom Walker was an O’s farmhand in the fall of 1972 when he decided to play winter ball in Puerto Rico.
While he was there, he helped Roberto Clemente load up a plane with relief supplies for earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Walker wanted to accompany the Pirates great on the New Year’s Eve flight to deliver those goods, but Clemente told him to stay behind … enjoy the festivities.
And so, Walker did.
That plane, of course, crashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, killing everyone aboard.
Without Clemente’s guiding hand, then, this story would have ended several paragraphs ago, and there never would have been a Lang-Walker connection.
Life, and baseball, are funny like that.
(All stats culled from Baseball-Reference.com)
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End Date: Tuesday 12/12/2023 15:13:01 EST
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