(Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium - Vancouver, B.C.) - When Ryan Doolittle was selected by the Oakland Athletics back in the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, one can only assume that he was quick to pick up the phone and ask his brother about how he could navigate his time here in Vancouver. Ryan, was the second Doolittle to suit up for the Vancouver Canadians as his brother Sean did so three seasons earlier (2007) shortly after Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney purchased Vancouver's professional baseball team.
Michael Richard also played on that 2007 team, swiping a team-record 25 bases for manager Rick Magnante's squad. Two seasons later and another speedster found his way to Scotiabank Field in the form of Myrio Richard, the younger and, as some said at the time, more talented of the two Richards' in the Oakland Athletics system.
Being a brother within the same system can have its peril as well as its advantage. No two brothers have played with the C's outside of the Richard's and the Doolittle's - not at least during the days of Northwest League, Short-Season baseball.
Jeremy Barfield played with the Canadians in 2008 while his brother Josh was toiling at the Major League / Triple-A levels of the Cleveland Indians system. Those two would stay in constant contact over social media and long distance phone plans with Jeremy often looking to Josh and father Jesse for advice on how to hit in a park like that of spacious Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium.
In 2007, Sean set the bar relatively high for any Doolittle as the Virginia standout was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 1st round of the MLB Draft hitting .283 in 13 games with the Canadians (yes, hitting!) before converting to a pitcher in 2011 where his career really took off.
The younger Doolittle was selected in the 26th round of the 2010 MLB Draft and immediately fell into the shadow of being the kid brother of a future Major League star. That shadow didn't last long as it was apparent early on that Vancouver might have gotten more out of Ryan than it ever did with Sean who suggested that one day his little brother would be a force in professional baseball.
With the Canadians, Ryan pitched his way to a 2-0 record in six games with a 1.69 ERA and 18 strikeouts against just one walk before he was promoted to Kane County of the Midwest League.
Sean would reach the Major Leagues in 2012 as a pitcher and is still a key piece of the Athletics bullpen. The elder of the two Doolittle's racked up 22 saves as a closer for the A's in 2014, and despite a number of injuries is still a force to be reckoned with on the mound.
Ryan is just one step away from the Major Leagues pitching this past season in Nashville with the Sounds. In 17 games, Ryan went 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17.1 innings of work. With a good spring training, the A's may have two Doolittle's on their roster come 2017.
The Richard's are both out of affiliated baseball with Myrio getting released in 2013 from the Oakland Athletics organization, while Michael was traded from the A's to the White Sox in 2010 before he was released at the end of the season.
Michael held the Vancouver Canadians record for stolen bases in a season (25) until 2014 when three C's speed demons snatched his benchmark [Roemon Fields - 48, Franklin Barreto -31, Tim Locastro - 28]. Michael would also draw 35 walks for a .400 on-base percentage in 61 games which remains among the best in franchise history.
Myrio was faster according to many within the Athletics organization, yet stole just four (4) bases in 53 games with the C's in 2009. The younger of the two Richard brothers would spend time with the likes of Jose Crisotomo, Jareck West and Tyreace House in the outfield as well as Connor Crumbliss and Rashun Dixon.
It was a crowded outfield with little opportunity for consistent play, and for Myrio he could just never gain traction with the Canadians despite having a tool-belt full of opportunities.
Myrio would top out at Stockton of the California League while Michael would get a taste of Double-A Birmingham before the White Sox decided to go in a different direction.
The group is small, but all of the brothers that have played here in Vancouver have gone on to have productive careers in baseball. Without a doubt, having a sibling that can help navigate the waters in a city that they previously played can be a benefit -- although at times getting out from behind the shadow can be half the battle.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.