Father’s Day is Sunday and it’s a holiday that holds a special place in the heart of athletes everywhere, because more often than not it was Dad who played that first game of catch with us.
If Dad wasn’t coaching, Dad was watching intently on the sidelines and had a notebook full of critiques for us as we walked off the field. Dad taught us how to lace up our skates, lay down a bunt, throw a spiral and box out the defender.
Athletes, whether professional or amateur, owe a great deal of gratitude to Dad, and the list you’re about to read counts down the 10 Best Dads In Sports.
10. Howie Long
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
It’s hard enough getting into the National Football League, so it’s an incredible feat when two of your sons make it. Hall of Famer Howie Long, pictured above with his son Chris, also fathered Bears Pro Bowler Kyle Long. Chris and Kyle are still fighting the way they did as kids, and the baby of the bunch, Howie Jr., plays college lacrosse at Virginia.
That’s good stock right there. Nice job, dad.
9. Cal Ripken Sr.
(Eliot Schechter /Allsport via Getty Images)
Cal Ripken Sr. exuded many of the fine qualities we look for in a father, but above all else: loyalty. Ripken the elder grew up in Maryland and spent 36 years in the Baltimore Orioles organization as a player, a scout, a coach, and a manager. At the end of his tenure he even coached his two sons (Cal Jr. and Billy).
8. Jack Buck
(Courtesy of KMOX Radio, St. Louis, Missouri)
Perhaps no broadcaster in sports history has as many memorable calls as Jack Buck. His son Joe, who began calling NFL games regularly at the age of 25, is well on his way to catching Dad.
7. Steve Belichick
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick credits his father Steve, pictured above, for teaching him the game of football and cites him as his biggest influence — so it should come as no surprise that Bill employed his own son Steve, pictured below, to work alongside him.
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Another generation of Belichick coaches must be a frightening thought for NFL fans outside of New England.
6. Bobby Bonds
(Otto Greule/Allsport via Getty Images)
In terms of accolades, perhaps no father-son combo in sports history can outdo Bobby Bonds and Barry. Bobby was known for his power and speed, and passed along those attributes to his eldest son. Barry is tied with his father for most seasons with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases (5).
5. Wayne Gretzky
Hockey fans love and appreciate all of your contributions on the ice, Wayne, but your greatest contribution to society came off the ice in the form of your daughter Paulina.
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Great One, indeed
(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
4. Buddy Ryan
(Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)
Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL for 27 years and fathered two of the most colorful coaches in the game today: twins Rex and Rob. During Buddy’s final head coaching stint in the NFL in Arizona, Ryan hired his two sons to join the Cardinals staff. Belichick may have more rings, but the Ryans are more fun.
Way more fun.
3. Dale Earnhardt
(Jonathan Ferrey/ALLSPORT via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt is considered by many to be the greatest NASCAR driver of all time, and his son Dale Jr. is one of the top athletes in the sport today. Our Dads taught us how to drive, but Dale Sr. taught his son how to race.
2. Ken Griffey Sr.
(Ken Levine /Allsport via Getty Images)
Ken Griffey Sr. is one of two players to play with his son in the same major league game in MLB history.
1. Archie Manning
(Christopher Polk/Getty Images For DirecTV)
Hands down the best Dad in sports. Archie and his wife Olivia gave birth to three sons, two of which went on win Super Bowls and Super Bowl MVP trophies. A Pro Bowler in his own right, Archie’s sons have since surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron.
Honorable Mentions: Kellen Winslow, Stu Hart, Oliver Luck, Bruce Matthews, Mario Andretti, Yannick Noah, Doc Rivers
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