Dante Bichette was a hitting machine during the mid-’90s with the Colorado Rockies. Now his son, Bo Bichette, is following in his footsteps by putting up monster numbers for the Lansing Lugnuts, a Class A affiliate for the Toronto Blue Jays in the Midwest League.
Bichette, who just turned 19 in March, entered play on Friday with a remarkable .400/.468/.645 batting line. That’s right, after going 7-for-8 in a doubleheader on Thursday, Bichette was hitting .400 on the nose.
A .400 batting average is the seemingly unattainable milestone that no major league and minor league hitter has been able to sustain for a full season in over five decades.
The last major league hitter to hit .400 was Ted Williams back in 1941. There’s some debate over who the last professional player was to hit .400 in a season. Some point to Artie Wilson, who batted .402 for the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League in 1948. Others say it was Artie Pointer, who hit .402 in the Western Carolina League in 1961.
Regardless, it’s been a long time, and would be a notable achievement even at the minor league level.
Bichette is one of two minor leaguers currently hitting .400 or better. The other is Colorado Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers, who is hitting .404 for the Lancaster JetHawks of the High-A California League.
Bichette held a 71-point lead in the Midwest League batting race over West Michigan outfielder Jake Robson coming into Friday. Not far behind him is Bichette’s teammate with Lansing and the son of Vladimir Guerrero, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The 18-year-old third baseman was hitting .324 after Thursday’s doubleheader.
Though their fathers were both outfielders, the two young sluggers are also pretty slicking-infielders. Perhaps they are destined to make up half of the Blue Jays infield someday. For now, they’re both awaiting a promotion to the next level, which could come as soon as next week following the Midwest League All-Star game.
A promotion would obviously complicate Bichette’s bid to hit .400, which is admittedly a long shot even in the best circumstances. But he’s a student of the game, much like his father. The difference being his journey didn’t start with hitting baseballs. Instead, his father suggested tennis, which helped build his competitiveness and his athleticism. It also gave him another option if baseball didn’t work out.
“Bo was an incredibly good tennis player,” Dante Bichette said of his youngest son. “He would’ve been a good one. I think tennis helped his baseball game. Athletic movements are athletic movements. The swing, the forehand, the throw … they’re all athletic movements. Tennis was a way he could practice without going out and grinding out baseball practices. He could get the same kind of workout, and add some footwork in there.”
It’s an interesting philosophy for a man who made reading Ted Williams’ “The Science of Hitting” as part of his routine. And it’s obvious his influence has been effective. Not only is Bo Bichette excelling, his other son, Dante Bichette Jr., was a star in the Little League World Series and is now attempting to make his way through the New York Yankees system.
To have one son chasing this dream is pretty cool. To have two is pretty special, and there’s no telling how much more special it will get.
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