They may not be the Manning family nor the Griffeys, but the Watkins family has some serious athletic chops that took center stage tonight at the Rochester Red Wings game.
It was new territory for
But it was a comfortable homecoming for Sammy’s cousin Tommy Watkins, 34, who is a household name in Rochester remembered as one of the most well-liked players in Red Wings history.
In a special moment at Frontier Field, both Watkins were together in the spotlight when Sammy threw the first pitch to his cousin at home plate before the second game in a Red Wings doubleheader.
“I definitely was nervous,” said Sammy, flashing a humble smile. “At first I told myself I was going to throw it as hard as I can. And then I came out and said nah, I’m just going to get it there, try to strike him out.”
Though catching, not pitching, is Sammy’s forte, it’s hard to believe Sammy was anxious to make the throw but unsurprising to see the ball sail in for a strike. The natural athlete made it look as easy as a one-handed grab at Bills Camp.
And Sammy and Tommy – now a pitching coach in the Twins organization where he played most of his Minor League ball at its Red Wings affiliate along with a month in the majors – aren’t the only naturals in their family.
Ten Division I football players, one Minor and Major League baseball player and an Olympic track star all hail from same generation of cousins in the Watkins clan. Most are between their late 20s and late 30s, Sammy and his brother Jaylen, a DB for the Eagles being the youngest.
“We’ve been blessed throughout the years to have everybody being athletic and sticking with their sports,” said Sammy.
Tommy describes the Watkins family's pedigree as surreal, and says he’s happy Sammy - likely the biggest name of the Watkins - landed in Western New York, his old stomping grounds.
“As soon as he got drafted I had everybody from Rochester texting me and calling me saying how happy they were that he was coming here,” said Tommy. “It’s pretty good to see him here and out in the community. I think we have a new mayor in town.”
“It was great, both of us being in the same place at the same time being nominated to be together as the Watkins throwing the first pitch,” said Sammy. “Tommy having had a successful career in Rochester, and now I’m in Buffalo, it’s a great transition for me.”