There is no shortage of notable sports siblings.
The DiMaggios and Molinas in baseball.
The Mannings and Pounceys in football.
The Espositos and Hulls in hockey.
The Gasols and Wilkins in basketball.
But Marlins outfield prospect Monte Harrison and brother Shaquille have a chance to become one of the rarest of all sports families: siblings playing different pro sports simultaneously.
“We always dreamed about it,” said Monte Harrison. “When that day comes, it’ll be exciting.”
They’re halfway there. After Shaquille Harrison was called up Tuesday by the Phoenix Suns of the NBA, it left only Monte needing to make the climb to the Majors to complete the tandem.
“He called me crying,” Monte Harrison said of his older brother’s call informing him of the news. “It was kind of emotional. Man, I was happy for him.”
The Harrisons have a chance to join Mark McGwire (MLB) and Dan McGwire (NFL) and Klay Thompson (NBA) and Trayce Thompson (MLB) as one of the few sibling pairs playing in different pro sports at the same time.
After their father died when Monte was 12, their mother, Michelle Francis, signed her sons up for youth sports.
“I wanted them to have some more male influences in their lives,” Francis once told the Kansas City Star. “Someone to help me keep them out of trouble.”
Francis didn’t know the first thing about sports.
“She didn’t know what sports was,” Monte Harrison said. “You scored a basket in basketball and she’d call it a touchdown.”
The Harrisons excelled in all sports. Monte won a dunk contest in high school, where he was also a standout receiver — enough so that Nebraska offered him a scholarship.
Shaquille, the eldest by two years, gave up baseball at an early age and followed the path of his namesake, former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.
“He was scared of baseballs,” Monte Harrison said of his brother. “He couldn’t handle 90 [mph]. Actually, he couldn’t handle 80. They started throwing harder and he said, ‘No, I’m good,’” before shifting exclusively to basketball.
Ultimately, Shaquille Harrison went off to play basketball at the University of Tulsa while Monte stuck with baseball and was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft.
Monte Harrison impressed scouts with his athleticism, a five-tool player who could do it all. The Marlins recognized it, too, when they demanded Harrison be included in a four-player package for Christian Yelich.
“You see a guy that looks the part,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “You see a good-sized guy that runs, the ball jumps off his bat, and you see a guy with all the tools.”
Though he has yet to play above Single A, MLB Pipeline ranked Harrison as the Marlins’ No. 2 overall prospect behind outfielder Lewis Brinson, who also came over in the Yelich trade. While Brinson is a strong contender to win an Opening Day roster spot, Harrison is probably a year or two away.
Monte Harrison feels he has a better chance of reaching the Majors with the Marlins, who traded away their entire outfield during the winter.
“I kind of wanted [the trade] to happen,” he said. “Nothing against the Brewers, but I saw all those people in the organization and in the big leagues. They got Yelich, and then they signed [Lorenzo] Cain, so it’s just a better opportunity here to jump-start my career.”
One day soon, he hopes to be wearing a big-league uniform at the same time his brother is playing in the NBA.
If he plays, Shaquille Harrison will make his NBA debut on Friday with the Suns. The game starts at 9 p.m. on the East Coast. But even though he has to show up early for spring training the next morning, Monte Harrison said he will stay up to watch.
“I don’t care,” Monte Harrison said of the late start time. “It’s worth it for my brother.”
The Marlins will open Grapefruit League play on Friday when they send out Dillon Peters to face the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.
Manager Don Mattingly is going with a lineup that includes a handful of newcomers, including outfielders Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra, second baseman Starlin Castro and first baseman Garrett Cooper.
▪ Today: Marlins LHP Dillon Peters (1-2, 5.17 in 2017) vs. St. Louis Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty (0-2, 6.33), 1:05 p.m., Roger Dean Stadium.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (2-3, 5.08) vs. Washington Nationals (to be announced), 1:05 p.m., Roger Dean Stadium.