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 Jon Saffer who hit .300 with 96 runs scored for the Senators in 1996.
What are your fondest memories of playing here in Harrisburg?
Jon Saffer: Fondest memory of Harrisburg was watching the fireworks from the bridge to the Island following the game on the Fourth of July. There aren’t a lot of venues like the Island in AA. It is one of the best parks to play in on the East coast.
You come from a highly notable athletic family (your dad was a guard on the 1967 National Champs at UCLA, your brother Jeff also played professional baseball, your other brother Mike was a heralded lineman at UCLA). How did that upbringing prepare you for success on the field and off?
JS: It was fun setting the bar for my younger brothers to surpass (which they seemed to do in each case).
You were an integral member of the squad that won the 1996 Eastern League Championship. What do you remember about the playoffs against Trenton and Portland?
JS: My most vivid memory of the playoffs was watching Vladimir Guerrero blast a home run over the light standard (I think it was a Tony Saunders’ change-up), that really turned the series in our favor. The great thing about that year, as fans will remember, is that we were so far out of the mix with only 40 games left that we almost had to win just about every game to even get into the playoffs. Manager Pat Kelley and the pitching staff did an amazing job down the stretch to get us in.
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.
JS: After retiring in 1998, I have lived in my home town of Tucson, Arizona with my wife and two daughters and work as an attorney at the law firm of Snell & Wilmer, LLP.
Thanks to Mr. Saffer for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions and be a part of the rich tradition of Senators baseball.