Pat Kelly was busy with another long Arizona day at the Cincinnati Reds’ spring training camp when he noticed a familiar name on the back of a jersey.
“He told me about my dad and how he coached him in Charleston,” said 21-year-old pitcher Drew Cisco, a Wando High School graduate.
Kelly is the unlikely link between father and son, the manager for Jeff Cisco’s final professional baseball season with the 1986 Charleston Rainbows and for Drew Cisco’s pro debut with the Billings Mustangs of the short-season Class A Pioneer League.
Kelly, 56, was an upstart manager at Charleston’s rickety College Park a quarter-century ago and is a seasoned skipper in Montana this summer.
“I thought it was awesome when I found out,” Drew Cisco said from Billings. “I called my dad. I thought it was funny.”
Jeff Cisco marvels at the “small world.”
“It’s pretty cool,” he said at his Honey Baked Ham store in Mount Pleasant. “Pat is a good guy, too. A good baseball guy.”
Drew Cisco, 21, was Cincinnati’s sixth-round draft pick in 2010. He is 0-0 with a 4.58 ERA in seven games, all starts, for the Mustangs. Cisco threw five shutout innings Tuesday night in a road game against the Grand Junction Rockies.
Jeff Cisco was a catcher for the 1986 Rainbows. Kelly’s team finished a mediocre 63-69 but was one of Charleston’s most talented minor league teams. Eight players went on to play in the majors: Carlos Baerga, Greg Harris, Eric Nolte, Matt Maysey, Rafael Valdez, Rodney McCray, Jim Lewis and Jim Tatum.
“This is a little bit different than a guy I played with still being involved in the game — there are some of those,” Jeff Cisco said. “It’s good for Drew because Pat is a player’s manager. He likes to keep it fun. He expects you to do your job and doesn’t bother you until you prove you cannot do the job on your own.”
Kelly, 56, has managed 21 seasons in the minors. His son, Casey Kelly, was the Boston Red Sox first-round pick in the 2008 Major League Baseball draft and is a pitcher in the San Diego Padres’ organization.
It’s an exciting summer all around for the Cisco family.
Mike Cisco, oldest of the three Cisco brothers, is having his best professional season. The former South Carolina and Wando High School pitcher is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA with the Lehigh Valley (Pa.) IronPigs in the Triple-A International League. Cisco, 25, in his role as a middle reliever was even better at the Philadelphia Phillies’ Double-A Reading club this year (3-3, 1.08 ERA).
“This is the first year Mike has been really healthy from the get-go,” Jeff Cisco said. “All I can say is he’s worked awfully hard. To be a 36th-round draft pick and below 6-foot, he’s earned everything he’s received.”
Brian Cisco, the middle Cisco brother, graduated as the valedictorian at Maritime College in New York. Brian landed a job on a world-touring tanker (currently in China) and hopes to someday work in Charleston.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.