Anyone who knows me, knows I am fascinated with familial connections in sports. I think it's interesting when players are related.
Earlier this month, I met Riley Grudzielanek, the niece of former Major League Baseball player Mark Grudzielanek.
Unlike uncle Mark, Riley is a pitcher. Among her many accomplishments in high school, she was a 2021 and 2022 First Team All-State and 2021 and 2022 All-Conference Pitcher of the Year. A native of Wisconsin, Riley choose Northwestern over the University of Wisconsin. Getting Riley was a major score for NU Coach Kate Drohan.
Uncle Mark played 15 seasons as a middle infielder with the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians. He hit .289 with 2,040 hots in his career. He won one Gold Glove and played in an All-Star game. He also led the league twice in double plays turned as a second baseman and once as a shortstop. His 54 doubles in 1997 led the league.
I was very happy when he came to the Cubs. Although in the later stages of his career, he hit .312 during his time here.
I met Riley at NU Fall Ball. Although I did not see her pitch, it was good to see her in person, since she looks to be a major part of the team's future. You can't have enough solid pitching and Riley is a great addition to pitching coach Michelle Gascoigne's staff.
Riley Grudzielanik and me in Evanston, IL-October 2023.