Imagine for a second that we’re in pre-9/11 America, and you’ve somehow been sucked into your HBO-connected television while watching The Sopranos. You’re wearing a tasteful track suit, huddled around a butcher’s table covered in capicola (“gabagool”), and surrounded by Italian men of varying ages, states of physical health, and rotundity. The mood is tense and the conversation centers around what to do about a struggling capo. A young-looking man to your left raises the possibility of offing him but is promptly and firmly cut off by patriarch Tony Soprano, who slams his beefy hands down, sending cured meats flying. “Family is everything!” he bellows, which seems to be enough for the skeptical youth to realize the error of his disloyal suggestion.
Your television shoots you back out into reality. You dust yourself off and look down, admiring your track suit. “Family is everything,” you mutter without thinking, then return to your regularly scheduled life, but with a greater appreciation for la famiglia.
Now, few things rev your engine like public displays of familial greatness. So yesterday, while watching the 2017 Prefontaine Classic, at the conclusion of the men’s Bowerman Mile, you stood erect, arms outstretched, and screamed an animal scream, because you were so jazzed by what you saw.
The Ingebrigstens all run 3:5X
Three Norwegian brothers, ranging in age from 16 to 26, all ran sub-4 for the mile on the same day.
16-year old Jakob Ingebrigtsen became the youngest sub-4 miler ever, running 3:58.07 in the men’s International Mile, a few seconds back from brother Henrik, who ran 3:53.23. About an hour later, in the Bowerman Mile, Filip went 3:53.79. In all likelihood, there has never been another familial trio to run as collectively fast on the same day.
But that doesn’t mean other families haven’t achieved shared greatness at once, in other disciplines.
The Sullivan Brothers All Die
Death is rarely considered great. It is usually sad. But I’ll be damned if death cannot be considered noble. And noble things are always great. So when all five Sullivan brothers saw their demise while serving in the US Navy during World War II (the last noble war we’ve got ourselves in) it was great. George, Frank, Matt, Joe, and Al were aboard the USS Juneau on November 13, 1942 when they met their demise. Their parents, Thomas and Alleta, traveled around the country hawking war bonds after their sons’ premature departures. This seems less noble.
The Griffeys Hit Some Home Runs
Imagine making contact with a baseball. Imagining making contact with a baseball hard enough to hit it far enough where you’re given a free walk around the bases because you’re so impressive. Imagine watching your dad do this. Imagine watching your dad do this and then realizing you are also on the same professional baseball team and you are now up to hit. Imagine hitting a homerun after your dad.
Ok. Stop imagining and start realizing this actually happened.
Ken Griffey Sr. knocked a four-baser on August 31, 1990 and then Ken Griffey Jr. did the exact same thing right afterwards. While usually a boring sport, baseball proves it can be interesting once a decade, or so.
Venus Loses to Serena and That is Still Great
In an incredible display of familial greatness, Serena bested her sister in the final of this year’s Australian Open. While losing is not as great as winning, having nearly identical DNA sequences in a final of a Grand Slam tennis tournament is objectively Great. Capital g, baby. One time my brother and I completed a power-hour at a family reunion and my parent’s were wildly disappointed in us. This has to be much different.
Bob Dylan toured the midwest while son Jakob’s band The Wallflowers dropped “One Headlight”
Long after Bob Dylan stopped going by his given name, Robert Zimmerman, but before he won a Nobel Prize but played demur in collecting it, he and his son Jakob shared some overlapping musical success.
In November of 1996, Bobby D was touring his native Midwest, playing sold out shows everywhere from Milwaukee to Minnetonka. That same month, Jakob’s band, The Wallflowers, released their magnum opus: Bringing Down the Horse.
“One Headlight,” the best-known single off of the album was named a top-100 pop song of all time in 2000 by a brain trust of MTV and Rolling Stone writers. Not too shabby, Jakob. That’s enough to make any warbling folksy father proud.
Granted, they never toured together or anything like that but Jakob’s one major hit absolutely bangs.
Let’s have a listen. For la famiglia.