This year marks the 25th season of Harrisburg Senators’ baseball returning to City Island. To commemorate the anniversary and honor all of the ballplayers that have played here for the last 25 years, I’ll be posting interviews throughout the season with members of each of those past teams.
Today, we begin the series with the 1989 Eastern League MVP, Wes Chamberlain. Wes hit .306 with 21 home runs, drove in 87 runs, and stole 11 bases in his one season in Harrisburg. He would go on to have a six-year MLB career where he finished 5th in NL Rookie of the Year voting and was an integral member of the Phillies’ 1993 World Series squad.
What are your fondest memories of playing here in Harrisburg?
Wes Chamberlain: The season ticket holders and the front office of Riverside Stadium in 1989. Zemby’s, The Spot, Nick & the family restaurant, and please make sure if I don’t name anyone blame my mind, not my heart because that city adopted Wes Chamberlain. Billy, Scottie & Lynn, Chessy, A.C.& Wife, Nick, Chip, GM Rick and his Assistant GM, father time himself old Skip Hunter, Manager Dave Trembley, Pitching Coach Chris, and most of all everyone who put on that uniform in 1989 my teammates.
In 1989 you were the first Senator to win the Eastern League MVP when you hit .306 with 21 homeruns. What clicked that season for you personally in Harrisburg?
WC: The team chemistry. In 1988 at Salem (High-A) we lost in the playoffs in the first round and for those who experienced it was pretty much a shock. I feel in any team sport no one can win an award without learning to respect and the support of the individuals on the left, right, or in front of you. That brings in trust, one goal, one mind, one heartbeat, then you’ll know who will have your back. After the All-Star break we had no fear, and we took on the league and no prisoners. Even though we lost in the championship to the Yankees, I learned the beast of winning continually in professional sports and I still have that today. That’s what clicked personally.
Your trade to the Phillies in 1990 was actually a cover-up to Pirates’ GM Larry Doughty accidentally placing you and Julio Peguero on irrevocable waivers. You got an opportunity at the major league level the next season in Philly, but how bizarre was that situation and how did you react to the news?
WC: That’s the beast of professional sports – one team’s loss is another team’s gain. Anyone who has ever played pro sports, you see and know the odds of getting to the Show (that’s what it’s called to any and everyone who has played minor league baseball). You don’t care how you get there, just get me there! I’m thankful that my childhood dream came true.
What have you been up to since your playing career ended?
WC: I have another dream…to be a Major League manager. I’ve been working on those skills, training my youngest son Elon who is a junior at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Homewood, IL who also has plans for the Show! I work with youth and teens, boys and girls, baseball and softball, giving private one on one and group lessons, and mentoring and motivational speaking engagements for youths and adults nationally and internationally. For bookings please visit my website at www.theweschamberlain.com.
We wish to thank Mr. Chamberlain for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions and be a part of the rich tradition of Senators baseball.