LOS ANGELES – Willson and William Contreras turned a goal into reality last month when they played on the same major league diamond. On Tuesday night, they'll make an even bigger dream come true when they suit up together in the All-Star Game.
The Contreras brothers will become the fifth siblings to start together in the Midsummer Classic — and they're batting back to back in the National League's lineup.
Willson, the Chicago Cubs catcher, will bat sixth while William, a catcher for the Atlanta Braves, is seventh as the designated hitter. William was elevated to the starting lineup after Philadelphia Phillies’ slugger Bryce Harper could not play due to injury.
The two brothers were side by side in the middle of the second row for the NL All-Star photo taken before workouts at Dodger Stadium on Monday.
“This is once in a lifetime and one of those experiences we will never forget,” said Willson, who is making his third appearance. “It is amazing for my family. I'm proud of everything that we have done. Hopefully we can expect to spend more together.
“The whole family is here — my parents, older brother, nieces and sister-in-law. This is something that I feel like they deserve to be here because of everything that we go through as a family. We are just enjoying the moment.”
It is the first time since Roberto and Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1992 that siblings have been on the same team and only the second time brothers are hitting back-to-back. Dixie and Harry Walker did it in the 1947 game for the NL.
William Contreras said he and Willson had dinner Sunday night in Los Angeles and hoped they would be next to each other in the lineup.
“We're really happy for that,” the first-time All-Star said via a translator. “Even in the back of the lineup it is something special for us to share.”
Brothers on the same team have had mixed results. The best was by Joe and Dom DiMaggio, who combined for four hits and four RBIs in the AL's 11-7 victory in the 1949 game.
The Alomars each had a hit in the 1992 contest while the Walkers were 0 for 4. Mort and Walker Cooper were the starting pitcher and catcher for the NL in the 1942 and '43 games — both losses.
The Contreras bothers are separated by six years and had not been on the same field since Little League in Venezuela until last month at Chicago's Wrigley Field. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the first time that brothers started against each other in the majors since Yadier and José Molina on June 10, 2014.
William, 24, has played in only 46 games this season but is tied for third among NL catchers with 11 home runs. He is one of four Atlanta players selected for the first time.
Even with the offense, Willson lauded his brother's defense as a strength.
“Framing pitches. He's way, way better than I was when I was 24,” Willson said. “I'm still working on that part of my game. I'm not going to give up.”
Willson has 13 home runs, second among NL catchers with at least 100 plate appearances, and leads in extra-base hits with 31.
“He can catch, throw and hit. He doesn’t see any weakness,” William said of his brother through an interpreter.
Willson joins Gabby Hartnett as the only Cubs catchers to make three All-Star Game starts, but many are wondering if this will be his final one for Chicago. The 31-year-old can become a free agent at the end of the season and has become the subject of trade speculation as the deadline nears.
Willson doesn't see the end of his Cubs career coming anytime soon.
“To be honest, I don’t feel like this is just gonna be my last time in a Cubs uniform. I don’t know why. I haven’t talked with the team or anything. it’s just a feeling that I have,” he said. “It’s been hard with the losing but I also understood that this is part of a rebuild. I know that the Cubs are trying to put a lot of pieces together. But I also want to do my best to guide the younger guys, because they need someone with a little more experience.”
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