For the first time in NFL history, two brothers will face each other on opposite teams when Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce goes head-to-head with Jason Kelce, center for the Philadelphia Eagles, in what many are already dubbing “The Kelce Bowl.”
It’s never happened in football before, but the Kelces aren’t the first brothers to face off in a Big Four championship game. Eight sets of brothers have played against each other in the World Series or Stanley Cup Final in the past, and some have even done so more than once.
Wheeler “Doc” Johnston and Jimmy Johnston
GAME: 1920 World Series
MATCHUP: Cleveland Indians (Doc) vs. Brooklyn Robins (Jimmy)
The 1920 World Series was historic on multiple fronts, featuring the World Series’ first grand slam (by Cleveland’s Elmer Smith), first home run by a pitcher (Cleveland’s Jim Bagby), and first unassisted triple play (Cleveland’s Bill Wambsganss). It was also the first time two brothers faced each other on opposing teams. Jimmy batted in the game-winning run for Brooklyn in Game 2 but injured his knee in Game 4 and had to sit out the rest of the best-of-nine series, which Doc’s Cleveland team won, 5-2, in just seven games.
Bob Meusel and Emil “Irish” Meusel
GAMES: 1921, 1922, and 1923 World Series
MATCHUPS: New York Yankees (Bob) vs. New York Giants (Irish)
The Meusels are the only set of brothers who have competed against each other in multiple championship games, and they did it three years in a row. Bob was batting behind the legendary Babe Ruth, but the Giants still took the first two Series in 1921 and 1922. The Yankees were finally triumphant in the 1923 World Series, and Bob drove home three runs in the final game to cap off their victory.
Georges “Buck” Boucher and Frank Boucher, Plus Cy Denneny and Corbett “Corb” Denneny
GAME: 1923 Stanley Cup Final
MATCHUP: Ottawa Senators (Buck and Cy) vs. Vancouver Maroons (Frank and Corb)
Not one, but two sets of brothers faced off in the 1923 hockey championships. Buck and Frank weren’t the only Boucher brothers in the league at the time, either; their brothers Billy and Bobby were both forwards on the Montreal Canadiens. Each of the Boucher brothers scored twice during the best-of-five series, which Ottawa won 3-1. Under the format at the time, the Senators then went on to face the Western Canada Hockey League champion Edmonton Eskimos, who they defeated to win the Stanley Cup.
Cecil “Tiny” Thompson and Paul Thompson
GAME: 1929 Stanley Cup Final
MATCHUP: Boston Bruins (Tiny) vs. New York Rangers (Paul)
For the Thompson brothers, the Stanley Cup Final was truly a head-to-head competition: Tiny was the goaltender for Boston, and Paul played forward. But Paul didn’t get the chance to score on his brother. “When I played goal for Boston against Paul (in) the final of 1929, he was just a rookie,” Tiny told the Toronto Star. “It was really no contest.” Tiny led his team to a 2-0 victory in the best-of-three series.
Ken Reardon and Terry Reardon
GAME: 1946 Stanley Cup Final
MATCHUP: Montreal Canadiens (Ken) vs. Boston Bruins (Terry)
Ken and Terry had once been teammates, playing together for Montreal from 1941 to 1943, but by 1946 they were on opposite side of the ice for the Stanley Cup Final. Known for his toughness, Ken was so willing to fight that he and Terry even dropped gloves against each other at one point. Ken’s Canadiens won the best-of-four series 4-1.
Cletis “Clete” Boyer and Ken Boyer
GAME: 1964 World Series
MATCHUP: New York Yankees (Clete) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Ken)
Clete and Ken were two of three brothers to play in the major leagues, along with pitcher Cloyd Boyer. Clete and Ken both played third base for their respective teams in the 1964 World Series. Ken, who had been the National League MVP that year, hit a grand slam in Game 4 to help St. Louis tie the best-of-seven series. Both Clete and Ken scored home runs in Game 7, but the Cardinals ultimately prevailed and won the series.
Scott Niedermayer and Rob Niedermayer
GAME: 2003 Stanley Cup Final
MATCHUP: New Jersey Devils (Scott) vs. Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Rob)
Unlike Jason and Travis Kelce’s mom, Carol Niedermayer clearly took sides when her sons played each other in the Stanley Cup Final. She wanted Rob to win, because Scott had already won Cups in 1995 and 2000. “That made sense to me,” Scott told USA Today. Scott ended up with a third Stanley Cup as the Devils won the series, but the brothers went on to win one together in 2007 for the Ducks, marking the first time two brothers won a Stanley Cup on the same team since Duane and Brent Sutter in 1983.
- Although the Kelces are the first NFL players to square off, brothers John and Jim Harbaugh famously faced each other in 2013’s Super Bowl XLVII as head coaches, with John leading the Baltimore Ravens to a 34-41 victory over Jim’s San Francisco 49ers.
- No brothers have ever played each other in the NBA Finals, but Seth and Stephen Curry were the first to do so in the Western Conference Finals in 2019. Stephen’s Golden State Warriors swept Seth’s Portland Trail Blazers but went on to lose in the Finals to the Toronto Raptors.
- The first set of brothers to face each other in a postseason pitcher-batter matchup were Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola and his brother, San Diego Padres catcher Austin Nola, during the National League Championship Series in 2022. The Phillies won the series 4-1.
Colin McEvoy joined the Biography.com staff in 2023, and before that had spent 16 years as a journalist, writer, and communications professional. He is the author of two true crime books: Love Me or Else and Fatal Jealousy. He is also an avid film buff, reader, and lover of great stories.