Los Angeles Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw’s Great Uncle Did What?

As the legend of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw continues to grow on the field, his relation to Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto, only adds to his infamy.

Even the most fair-weather Los Angeles Dodgers fan knows Clayton Kershaw. Some even can name a number of his most obscure statistics off the top of their heads. However, how many do you think know that Kershaw’s great uncle, Clyde Tombaugh, first discovered Pluto?

History must run in their family tree because prior to Kershaw making baseball history, Tombaugh made astronomical history. Dissatisfied with the telescopes of his time, Tombaugh created his first telescope when he was 20-years-old. Three years later, the young scientist used his own telescope to make observations on Jupiter and Mars. He sent his findings to Lowell Observatory, who in turn offered him a full-time job.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Pluto

Assigned to a team focused on searching the night sky, Tombaugh noticed a movement between two images. Upon further investigation, his discovery turned out to be Pluto. Around a month later, Lowell Observatory announced the discovery of a ninth planet, giving Tombaugh the much-deserved credit.

You could say, Pluto debuted as a planet on February 18, 1930.

“What scientists just decide to just get in a room one day and say, ‘Oh, you know, we’re out with Pluto’?” -Kershaw (per usatoday.com)

Just over 60 years later, Kershaw’s great uncle passed away in 1997 at the age of 90-years-old. To honor his name, NASA placed his ashes aboard the New Horizon mission headed for Pluto in 2006. Last year, after travelling three billion miles, the New Horizon mission finally reached Pluto and sent high-resolution photos back to earth. Because of his discovery, students for the next 80 years learned that the solar system featured nine planets.

However, you could say Pluto was sent down to the “minor leagues” in 2008.

To the dismay of the Kershaw family, the International Astronomical Union pushed for and successfully downgraded Pluto to a trans-Neptunian dwarf planet.

Although his family is disappointed and disagrees with Pluto’ demotion, Kershaw jokes from time to time about his fake outrage. Furthermore, given his major league success and the birth of his son, Charley, Pluto is not the first thing on his mind.

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