If you are a fan of baseball, you might have heard of the names Tanner Houck and Ralph Houck. Tanner Houck is a young pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, who made his major league debut in 2020 and has shown promise as a potential starter or reliever. Ralph Houck was a former catcher, coach, manager, and executive in Major League Baseball, who is best known for leading the New York Yankees to three consecutive pennants and two World Series titles in the early 1960s. But are these two Houcks related by blood or by name only? Here is what we found out.
The Origin of the Houck Surname
According to Ancestry.com, the surname Houck has several possible origins. It could be derived from the Middle Dutch word “houck”, meaning “hook” or “bend”, and used as a topographic name for someone who lived by a bend in a river or road. It could also be a variant of the German surname Hauck, which is a nickname for someone with long or curly hair, from the Middle High German word “houc”, meaning “lock of hair”. Another possibility is that it is an Anglicized form of the Irish surname O’Huiginn, which means “descendant of Uiginn”, a personal name derived from the word “uige”, meaning “knowledge”
The Family Tree of Tanner Houck
Tanner Lee Houck was born on June 29, 1996, in Collinsville, Illinois. He is the son of Jennifer and Darrin Houck, and has two older sisters, Taylor and Tori. His father Darrin was a baseball coach at Collinsville High School, where Tanner played as a pitcher and outfielder. Tanner also played basketball and football in high school, but chose to focus on baseball after being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 12th round of the 2014 MLB draft. He did not sign with the Blue Jays, however, and instead attended the University of Missouri, where he pitched for three seasons and earned All-American honors. He was then drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (24th overall) of the 2017 MLB draft, and signed for a $2.6 million bonus. He made his way through the minor leagues, reaching Triple-A Worcester in 2021. He made his major league debut on September 15, 2020, against the Miami Marlins, and pitched five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. He finished the season with a 3-0 record and a 0.53 ERA in three starts. In 2021, he began the season in Worcester, but was called up to Boston several times as a starter or reliever. As of August 4, 2021, he had a 0-3 record and a 3.12 ERA in eight games (five starts) for the Red Sox
The Family Tree of Ralph Houk
Ralph George Houk was born on August 9, 1919, in Lawrence, Kansas. He was the son of George J. and Emma A. (Schael) Houk, and had four siblings: Harold M., Russell V., Hazel M., and Clifford E. His father George was a farmer and cattle raiser in Kanwaka, Kansas. Ralph grew up playing baseball with his uncles on a semipro team called the Belvoirs. He also played football at Lawrence High School, where he was an all-state quarterback. He was signed by the New York Yankees in 1938 as a catcher, and played in their minor league system until 1942, when he enlisted in the US Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served with Company I, 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) of the 9th Armored Division in Europe during World War II. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge and helped capture the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen. He was awarded the Silver Star with an Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star with an Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart for his bravery and leadership. He rose to the rank of major (the source of his nickname “The Major”) before being discharged in 1946
He resumed his baseball career with the Yankees in 1947 as a backup catcher behind Yogi Berra. He played in only 91 games over eight seasons (1947-1954), batting .272 with one home run and 20 RBIs. He was part of six World Series-winning teams as a player (1947, 1952-1953, 1956-1958), but had only two at-bats in the postseason (one hit). He became a bullpen coach for the Yankees in 1953, and then a minor league manager for the Denver Bears from 1955 to 1957. He returned to the Yankees as a first-base coach under Casey Stengel from 1958 to 1960. He succeeded Stengel as the manager of the Yankees in 1961, and led them to three straight pennants and two World Series titles in his first three seasons (1961-1963). He had a record of 309-176 (.637) in those years, and became the first manager to win World Series titles in his first two seasons and the first manager since Hughie Jennings to win three pennants in his first three seasons. He also became the second rookie manager to win 100 games in a season (109 in 1961) and the third rookie manager to win a World Series (after Bucky Harris in 1924 and Eddie Dyer in 1946). He was named the American League Manager of the Year by The Sporting News in 1961 and 1963
He moved up to become the general manager of the Yankees in 1964, but returned to the dugout as the manager in 1966, after Johnny Keane resigned. He managed the Yankees until 1973, but could not replicate his early success, as the team went through a period of decline and transition. He had a record of 635-630 (.502) in his second stint as the Yankees’ manager, and never finished higher than second place in the American League East. He left the Yankees after the 1973 season, and became the manager of the Detroit Tigers from 1974 to 1978. He led the Tigers to a second-place finish in 1974, but could not contend with the dominant Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox in the division. He had a record of 363-443 (.450) with the Tigers, and was fired after the 1978 season. He then became the manager of the Boston Red Sox from 1981 to 1984, replacing Don Zimmer. He guided the Red Sox to a third-place finish in 1982, but could not catch up with the Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles in 1983. He had a record of 312-282 (.525) with the Red Sox, and retired after the 1984 season. His overall managerial record was 1,619-1,531 (.514) in 20 seasons, ranking him 16th on the all-time wins list among managers. He was also one of only six managers to win at least two World Series titles with one team and manage three different teams (the others being Joe McCarthy, Bill McKechnie, Dick Williams, Sparky Anderson, and Tony La Russa).
He married Betty Jeanne (McKinley) Houk on October 14, 1942, and they had two children: Robert G. and Donna J. Houk. His son Robert followed his footsteps into baseball, becoming a minor league catcher and coach in the Yankees’ organization. His daughter Donna married former major league pitcher Bill Monbouquette, who played for Houk on the Red Sox. Houk died on July 21, 2010, at his home in Winter Haven, Florida, at the age of 90. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
The Answer: No Relation
After examining the family trees of Tanner Houck and Ralph Houk, we can conclude that they are not related by blood or by marriage. They share a common surname that has multiple origins and variations, but they do not have any known ancestors or relatives in common. They also have different birthplaces and backgrounds: Tanner Houck is from Illinois and has German ancestry; Ralph Houk was from Kansas and had Irish ancestry. They are both connected to baseball, but they played different positions and for different teams: Tanner Houck is a pitcher for the Red Sox; Ralph Houk was a catcher and a manager for the Yankees, Tigers, and Red Sox.
Therefore, we can say that Tanner Houck and Ralph Houk are only related by name and by baseball, but not by blood or by marriage. They are both part of the baseball family, but not of each other’s family.
Tanner Houck and Ralph Houk are two baseball figures who share a surname but not a lineage. They have different origins, careers, and achievements in baseball, but they also have some similarities: they both served their country during wartime (Tanner Houck was an Army ROTC cadet at Missouri; Ralph Houk was an Army major during World War II); they both played or managed for the Boston Red Sox; they both have ties to Kansas (Tanner Houck pitched for Missouri; Ralph Houk was born in Lawrence). They are both examples of how baseball can bring people together across