MLB dream fulfilled for brothers Justin and B.J. Upton

(News4usonline) The sports world has seen many dynamic siblings play together and against each other at the professional level. Each sport has several iconic sibling duos. Tennis has Serena and Venus Williams.

Brother acts are all over the NFL. The Manning brothers (Peyton and Eli) first come to mind. There’s Jason and Travis Kelce. Then there’s Jaylen and Sammy Watkins as well as Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin.

And the list goes on and go. The NBA has the Gasol (Marc and Pau), Ball (Lonzo and LaMelo), and Morris (Marcus and Markieff) brothers. The WNBA is represented by Los Angeles Sparks sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike. And the boxing ring has the Klitschkos, to name a few.

Major League Baseball has had a plethora of siblings taking the field, including Tony and Chris Gwynn, Roberto and Sandy Alomar, Dizzy and Paul Dean, and Pedro and Ramon Martinez, to name a few.

You might want to also include the Upton brothers, Justin and B.J. Melvin (B.J.) Upton is the eldest of the two brothers. B.J. was drafted second overall in 2002 by the Tampa Bay Rays. His younger brother, Justin, was drafted as the No. 1 overall in the 2005 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Justin Upton goes yard with a three-run home run against the Cleveland Indians on May 18, 2021. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline
Los Angeles Angels outfielder Justin Upton goes yard with a three-run home run against the Cleveland Indians on May 18, 2021. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

The Upton’s hold various firsts in the MLB including being the first brothers to be drafted No. 1 and 2. They are also the first brothers to both be a part of the 20-20 club, hitting 20 or more home runs and recording at least 20 stolen bases in a single season.

Siblings always compete with each other no matter what discipline they are in or whether or not the competition holds any merit at all. Every pair of siblings at one point or another will try to one up the other. The Upton’s are no different. Although B.J. started his career a few years earlier than Justin, the two men set the same milestone on the same night.

On Aug. 3, 2012, Justin, a member of the Diamondbacks at that time, hammered a shot to deep left-field for his 100th career homer. Later in the same night, B.J. would not let his younger brother outshine him, smashing his 100th career home run as well.

After the 2012 season, Justin and B.J. were both traded to the Atlanta Braves. They wound up playing together for the next two seasons.
During their time with the Braves, the Upton’s went into the history books five times over. Their feat? They both hit a home run in the same game, five different times.

The previous record was shared by Jason and Jeremy Giambi and Vladimir and Wilton Guerro who each had performed this feat four times.

Justin Upton
Outfielder Justin Upton doing work as a member of the Atlanta Braves. Upton, in his 15th season, now plays for the Los Angeles Angels. Photo credit: Pouya Dianat/Atlanta Braves

“If we push ourselves… there’s no question we can be the best outfield in baseball,” Justin Upton said.

Manny Upton, father of the two brothers said that the two were never on the same team, even during youth baseball. The Braves would be home to the Uptons for two seasons before dealing Justin Upton to the San Diego Padres.

It wouldn’t be long until the teams reached a new deal that also sent B.J. to the Padres as well. From here B.J. would start going by his birth name Melvin. Both Justin and Melvin (B.J.) suffered from incredibly hot starts to their careers that the expectations for them going forward were never realized.

Both men were inconsistent and bounced around the league. After the 2016 season with the Padres, Justin signed with the Detroit Tigers. B.J. would go north to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 2016 season was the final time Melvin played in a big-league game. The Blue Jays released him from the club before Opening Day of the 2017 season. Melvin later signed on to the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians minor league teams but never made another MLB roster.

In September of 2019, Melvin retired from the game of baseball and began his career as an MLB television analyst. With this announcement came another. Melvin decided he would return to his government name rather than keep the nickname moniker he went by during his professional playing days. So out with B.J. He was once again Melvin Upton. He credits his wife for the decision to switch his name once again.

“You know what, it’s my wife, man. She said, ‘Melvin’ doesn’t sound right on TV and she wants me to go back to B.J.,'” said Melvin Upton. “And everybody knows, happy wife, happy life. So we’re official. It’s cool.”

While B.J. was embarking on his career after baseball, Justin was still looking for a long-term landing spot. After a short stint with Detroit, Justin found his way to the Los Angeles Angels in 2018.

B.J. Upton at the plate staring down a pitcher. Photo credit: Pouya Dianat/Atlanta Braves

“I have a family. They have to be comfortable, and I have to be comfortable. I’ve never walked foot in the Angels’ clubhouse, so I’m in it with an open mind,” Justin Upton said at that time.

Justin will be under contract with the Angels through the 2022 season, then it will be Justin’s turn to decide his next career move. During his five years with the Angels, Justin has been efficient, but he has not been nearly as productive for the ballclub as he was before arriving in Anaheim. In the six seasons prior to becoming an Angel, Justin hit 26 home runs or more. He also topped the RBI total mark in a season with a 100 twice.

Since has been playing for the Angels, Justin’s best season came in 2018 when he bopped 30 home runs and knocked in 85 runs. Now in his 15th season and at the age of 33, Justin’s hitting acumen has slowed down a bit. Thus far, Justin has swatted 10 home runs and is hitting .204.

But as he showed in smacking a three-run home run against the Cleveland Indians in a game played on May 18 against the Cleveland Indians, Justin can still go deep with the best of them.  Each and every time Justin goes deep, as he recently did against the Texas Rangers, he adds another layer to the distinct legend of the Upton brothers.

So until when the 2022 MLB season concludes, we might just have to wait until we will see another Upton brother reunion. This time it will be in the television booth rather than on the baseball field.

Featured Image Caption: Brothers Justin and B.J. Upton. Photo credit: Pouya Dianat/Atlanta Braves

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