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 continue the series with Joe Ausanio who had two separate stints with the Senators in 1990 and 1993. Ausanio combined for a 5-2 record with 21 saves while maintaining a 1.65 ERA.
What are your fondest memories of playing here in Harrisburg?
Joe Ausanio: My fondest memories of Harrisburg was the overall support of the area, especially the fans. They were incredibly knowledgeable and very fair. If you performed badly they let you know it. On the other hand when you did well they made you feel like you were in the big leagues. The support from the city was amazing as well. I remember Mayor Reed being instrumental in the success of the Senators and who could ask for a better place to play than City Island.
You are only one of two players (by my rudimentary research) that have played here as a member of both the Pirates and Expos organizations. What was it like to return here with your new club in the 1993 season?
JA: In 1993 I had the chance to come back to Harrisburg and join what I consider the best minor league team I ever played for. Jim Tracy was at the helm of a star studded team laced with major league talent. Cliff Floyd, Rondell White, Reid Corneilius, Shane Andrews to name a few but I believe including myself over a dozen guys played in the major leagues off of this team. We won the Eastern League Championship and I am honored to be a part of what people say is one of the top 100 minor league teams of all time.
Describe the experience in 2005 of throwing batting practice knuckleballs to the Yankees to simulate your old teammate Tim Wakefield’s pitch a full ten seasons after playing at the Major League level with the team in 1994 & 1995?
JA: In 2005 I was working for the Hudson Valley Renegades in the New York Penn League as the Director of Food Services and the Sales Manager. I was at our organizational meetings in Florida when the owner of our club, Marv Goldklang came up to me and said Brian Cashman wants to talk to me on the phone. The Yankees wanted to fly me up to Boston to throw knuckleball batting practice to the team before they faced Wakefield. I looked around and thought I was the object of a big prank. Lo and behold it was the truth and I was on my way in the middle of a heated pennant race. I got to Boston the night prior to the Yankees facing Wakefield. The Yankees ended up losing that game. The next day I took the team bus to Fenway Park and I was given a uniform and met some of the Yankee starters under the center field bleachers of Fenway to throw knuckle balls to them prior to the game. The Yankees ended up knocking Wakefield out of the game and I seemed to get more press for one day of batting practice than 2 years of pitching for the Yankees.
Fill the readers in on what you’ve been doing since your playing career ended and how you’ve been since last here in Harrisburg.
JA: I have worked for the Hudson Valley Renegades for the past 13 years and now I am also coaching Division 1 college softball for Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. I have two sons Joey who is 20 and Kevin who is 18. Joey is a junior and attends RIT in Rochester NY. Kevin will be a freshman this year at the University of Delaware.
Thansk to Mr. Ausanio for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions and be a part of the rich tradition of Senators baseball. We wish him all the best and continued success on his career as a coach.