The 1989 Phillies position player representative in this ‘Phillies 50’ series on the most random players to appear with the club over the last half-century took the field with the club for just nine games.
The nine appearances with those 1989 Phillies by Steve Stanicek all came as a pinch-hitter. He never took the field to play an actual defensive position with the team.
This was the second and last season in Major League Baseball for Stanicek, who also appeared in four games with the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers. But just as with his Phillies appearances, he never played a defensive position in Milwaukee. The Brewers used him three times as a pinch-hitter and as a Designated Hitter in his one and only big-league start.
Just 15 days prior to Steve making his MLB debut with the Brewers, his brother, Pete Stanicek, made his own debut with the Baltimore Orioles. The two brothers would each appear in just two MLB seasons each, but Pete would get to play the field at three different positions and play in 113 games, receiving 423 big-league plate appearances.
Steve Stanicek had been the San Francisco Giants first round pick at 11th overall in the 1982 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Nebraska. After moving through the Giants farm system he would be dealt to the Brewers at the end of spring training in 1986 for Rob Dewolf.
He would receive just those four games in Milwaukee in 1987 and became a free agent following the 1988 season. The Phillies subsequently signed him as a free agent in January 1989.
Stanicek played the 1989 season as the starting first baseman with the Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre club. Unfortunately he would never get to take the field with his boyhood idol, Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt, who would retire just over three months before Stanicek would get called up.
“I thought he just played the game the right way and was smooth with the glove and the bat,” Stanicek told Journal & Topics during a January 2014 interview.
Stanicek finally got his call to Philadelphia when rosters expanded in September. He would go just 1-9 that month in his nine games and nine pinch-hit appearances.
On September 9, 1989 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, manager Nick Leyva sent him to the plate as a pinch-hitter for relief pitcher Todd Frohwirth in the top of the 8th inning.
The Phillies were trailing by 5-1, and there was one out with Randy Ready on second base. Stanicek delivered an RBI to center field off Zane Smith, driving in Ready to cut the deficit to 5-2. The Phillies would tie it on a three-run homer by Dickie Thon in the 9th, but go down to defeat when the Expos walked it off in the bottom of that frame.
Stanicek’s final appearance with the Phillies and in his MLB career came on October 1, 1989 in the season finale at Veterans Stadium against those same Montreal Expos. He ground out to lead off the top of the 8th inning as a pinch-hitter for starting pitcher Pat Combs on that Sunday afternoon during a 5-3 victory.
Returning to play with the Red Barons at Triple-A for the 1990 season, Stanicek would spend that entire season as their starting first baseman. But this time there would be no September promotion, and he would retire after that season at age 29.
“I wish it would have lasted longer, but it’s a different game,” Stanicek said back in 2009 per ‘The Greatest 21 Days‘ blog. “You have to take advantage of the little opportunity you may have. And some guys never, ever get an opportunity like that.”
After retiring, Stanicek eventually moved into coaching at the high school level back in his native Illinois and since 2014 has served as head coach with Glenbrook South High School.
Overall in his high school coaching career he has compiled a 392-178 record with 14 conference titles, a dozen regional titles, and two summer regional titles. He has also been named the area coach of the year five times, including last year.