It never ceases to amaze me how baseball can bring strangers together. In mid-April I was in upstate New York for a family wedding. The night before Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies had stitched together a glorious quilt against the Washington Nationals. I was feeling good about things so I wore a Phillies’ tee shirt to breakfast. As I was eating along with my brother-in-law, my nephew and his fiancée, one of the hotel’s managers was working the room with the guests. She stopped at our table and said, “A Phillies fan!” I thought, OK, I’m in New York, here’s a Yankees (or maybe Mets) fan who’s going to talk smack.
“Did you ever hear of Ed Sanicki?” she asked me. I have been a Phillies fan since 1957 and know just about every player since then, plus a lot of earlier players. Not Ed Sanicki, though. I shook my head. “Wait a minute,” she said, and went to her office. When she returned, she handed me two sheets of paper stapled together, telling the story of Ed Sanicki.
I was astounded as I read through what was evidently an obituary: Sanicki was a career minor leaguer in the Phillies’ system who had signed following his service in the Navy in World War II. On September 14, 1949, he finally got to The Show, and homered in his first at-bat. His next two hits were also home runs. He was poised to join The Whiz Kids but injured his knee in spring training and missed the Phillies’ magical 1950 season. He made the team in 1951 but May 12 that year was his final big¬-league game. By 1952 he was out of baseball.
The woman standing next to our table was beaming as she saw my dawning look of incredulity. “My dad played for the Phillies!” she announced. “I’m Sandra Sanicki.” I happily introduced myself and my family.
Ed Sanicki’s career records can be found on baseball-refernce.com. He is distinguished for several accomplishments for a player with a minimum of 20 plate appearances, including highest Slugging Percentage (.882), highest career Isolated Power (.588) , and second highest career On-base Plus Slugging (OPS) (1.251).
Ed passed away in 1998 after a long and distinguished career as an educator in his native New Jersey. After baseball he had returned to Seton Hall University to complete his degree and became a special-education teacher. He was active in baseball in his community of Middlesex County. Perhaps most importantly, he was a devoted brother, husband, father and grandparent whose children continue to express their love for him and keep his memory alive.
Here’s to you, Ed Sanicki, Fightin’ Phillie. And here’s to you, Sandra Sanicki. I’m happy to tell your Dad’s story to all who will listen.