The 1978 Philadelphia Phillies captured the National League East Division crown for a third consecutive season. But for a second straight year they were eliminated in heart-breaking fashion by the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games in the NLCS.
Chosen to represent that club from the pitching side in this ‘Phillies 50’ series of players who had a minimal impact on a particular season and then also in their MLB career is right-hander Dan Boitano.
The Sacramento, California product was drafted no fewer than five times, including twice as a first rounder by the Phillies who chose him in June 1972 at 16th overall out of Fresno City College and then again the following year in the June-Secondary Phase.
He pitched well that same summer at Low-A Auburn of the New York-Penn League, and really put himself on the prospect map with a strong season in 1975 at Double-A Reading.
He didn’t distinguish himself while pitching with Triple-A Oklahoma City from 1976-78, and it wasn’t until the very end of that 1978 campaign that the Phillies decided to give the 25-year-old a taste of big-league life.
On October 2, 1978 he would make what would prove to be his one and only appearance in a Phillies uniform. On the final day of the regular season after the NL East had been clinched the previous day with a victory over the cross-state rival Pittsburgh Pirates, manager Danny Ozark gave Boitano that opportunity.
Ozark was resting his regulars that day, and the subs were trailing the Bucs by 4-2 when Tim McCarver pinch-hit for reliever Kevin Saucier in the top of the 7th inning. The veteran singled and three batters later came home to score on a base hit by future Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, making it a one-run ball game.
It was then Boitano’s chance, taking the mound for the bottom of the 7th inning. He retired the first two batters he faced, including future manager Cito Gaston to lead off the frame. After walking Dave May, who promptly stole second base, Boitano retired Steve Brye on a ground out to shortstop Todd Cruz for the final out.
That would be Boitano’s lone appearance with the club. At the end of spring training the following year he would be dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for another young righty named Gary Beare, who would never pitch for the Phillies.
The Brewers used Boitano out of their bullpen for five games in 1979 and 11 in 1980 before selling his contract to the New York Mets at the start of the 1981 season. He saw 15 games out of the Mets bullpen in that 1981 season and then was traded in December to the Texas Rangers along with Doug Flynn in exchange for veteran pitcher Jim Kern.
In 1982, Boitano saw the final 19 games of his big-league career on the mound with the Rangers. He returned to pitch the full 1983 season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, which was by then a Rangers’ farm club. But after failing to get a big-league promotion at any point he would retire following that season at age 30.
Overall, Boitano pitched in 51 games in Major League Baseball over parts of five seasons, but just that one with the Phillies.