The manager of the 1983 Philadelphia Phillies ‘Wheeze Kids’ pennant-winning ball club, 59-year-old Paul Owens, was definitely partial to veteran ball players. Finding a position player entry from that team for the ‘Phillies 50’ series was thus made much more difficult than in most years.
The series serves to remind fans of players who appeared with each Phillies team from 1971-2019, covering the half-century that I have followed the ball club, who had both a minimal impact on each year’s team combined with little MLB experience.
Best fitting the bill from that 1983 club would be Alejandro Sanchez, who was a 23-year-old rookie appearing in seven games that season and seeing 14 plate appearances.
Sanchez had first signed with the Phillies as an 18-year-old amateur free agent out of his native Dominican Republic in April of 1978. Mostly a speedy outfielder, Sanchez added some pop to his game as he grew and developed over the next few years.
He was called up briefly in April of 1983, and then when rosters expanded in September the Phillies promoted him for the stretch run figuring that he could at least help out as a pinch-runner and late innings defensive replacement.
His first appearance came in that pinch-running role on April 8, 1983 during a 3-2 loss at Candlestick Park to the host San Francisco Giants. With the club down by that run and two out in the top of the 9th, Tony Perez singled and Sanchez was sent in to run for the veteran. Bo Diaz followed with another single, but both runners were stranded as the game ended with Bob Molinaro flying out to center field.
Sanchez’ first hit and run scored that year each came in his first game back during that September promotion. On September 1, 1983 during a 6-5 loss to the Giants at The Vet, Sanchez was sent up by Owens as a pinch-hitter with one out in the bottom of the 5th inning for starting pitcher Tony Ghelfi. He lined a base hit to left field off Giants starter Atlee Hammaker and two batters later scored on a two-run double by Gary Matthews.
On September 4, 1983 during a 10-4 loss to the Giants at The Vet, Sanchez knocked in the first two runs of his MLB season. The two RBIs came on a two-run single in the bottom of the 2nd inning that scored Sixto Lezcano and Perez.
Sanchez was not carried on the postseason roster as the Phillies went on to capture their National League pennant by downing the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games. Having appeared in seven games with the club in 1982, Sanchez career slash line with the Phillies was .286/.286/.619, that slugging number bolstered by home runs in back-to-back appearances in late September 1982.
Near the end of spring training in 1984, Sanchez was traded away to the Giants in exchange for veteran Dave Bergman. He appeared in 13 games with San Francisco in ’84 and then was traded by them in April 1985 to the Detroit Tigers for reliever Roger Mason.
With the Tigers in 1985, Sanchez saw by far his greatest action in Major League Baseball. That year he appeared in 71 games and received 133 plate appearances, producing six home runs and a dozen RBIs. Then in January 1986 he was dealt again, this time to the Cincinnati Reds along with Chris Pittaro for Dave Engle.
Never reaching the major with Cincy, Sanchez became a free agent, signing in April 1987 with the Oakland Athletics. With the A’s, Sanchez made his final two big-league appearances in 1987.
Sanchez career was far from over. After one final season at Triple-A Tacoma in the Athletics minor league system in 1988 he took his career to Mexico. There he played with nine different teams over the six seasons from 1989-1994.
Following a couple of years away from the game, Sanchez returned once again, playing independent ball at ages 38 and 39 in the Big South, Texas-Louisiana, and Western Leagues before finally calling it a career.