A few years back, I was thumbing through the liner notes of the then new Roots album Game Theory when I found a familiar name. Owen Biddle, who'd played in the popular Delco/Philly-area rock band Pepper's Ghost, was listed as a producer on a few tracks.
Last night, when I saw that the Phillies had selected a local pitcher named Jesse Biddle, I wondered if they might be related. My exhaustive search wasn't entirely conclusive, but there's reason to believe the two are connected.
A little history on Owen Biddle: He joined Pepper's Ghost the day after some friends and I saw them play the last show of their original incarnation some on wild New Year's Eve at the Grape Street. Biddle played in-studio and produced tracks for some amazing artists including Al Green, and joined the Roots when long-time bassist Leonard Hubbard left after 17 years with the band. You can see him every weeknight on stage with the band on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
On Owen's family and background, from a March 2009 article in Philadelphia Weekly:
Born and raised in Philly, a descendent of one of Philadelphia’s prominent colonial families, with a Pennsylvania governor, a delegate to the Continental Congress and a judge who was at the Nuremberg trials in his lineage—31-year-old Biddle’s roots in Philadelphia’s rich music scene run deep, but not deep enough to keep the pecking birds at bay.
So does that family line also now include a potential future Phillie? A quick google search shows that they are both listed among the prestigious Pennsylvania Biddle Family, which has its own Wikipedia entry including some pretty impressive lineage...
I've read a few articles on the drafting of Jesse Biddle this morning, and all give him great acknowledgments as a ballplayer. However, none mention a connection to Owen Biddle, and Wikipedia's not exactly the most concrete place to get information, but the pieces seem to suggest some familial relation here. Jesse is listed as both a member of the family and, as you might imagine, his drafting by the Phillies is already updated. Until we have confirmation, this is your firm disclaimer that we're not sure. At all.
We'll see what we can find out for sure to see if the Phillies' new lefty shares a relationship with our city's most famous current musical act. Until then, we thought we'd ask you locals if anyone knows for sure either way. If there's no relation, we'll apologize for sounding the OMG PHILLIES+ROOTS=AWESOME alarm.
Update: Dan Gross of the Daily News took up the charge and contacted Owen Biddle's dad, who replied that they were "Definitely related. Probably 8th cousins." Owen Biddle also later responded to Gross via twitter, saying "8th cousins... In other words, less related than average." Update 2: Owen's dad now says they're 9th cousins, and that they've never met. This cosmic injustice must be remedied, Biddles. Think of the party potential.