Where are they now? Chuck Essegian
Outfielder played for Philadelphia during the 1958 season
Chuck Essegian was a two-sport star who played baseball and football at Stanford University.
While at Stanford, he played in the 1952 Rose Bowl, a game won easily by Illinois, 40-7. A year later, he signed to play baseball with Sacramento, the start of a pro baseball career that included six different teams in the Majors in six seasons and a seven-year career in the Minor Leagues. His pro career ended in 1964 in Japan.
A right-handed-hitting outfielder, Essegian's career with the Phillies was a short but enjoyable one. He was signed by the Phillies after the 1956 Minor League season and assigned to Schenectady. Two years later, Essegian was in the Phillies' Major League Spring Training camp. Wearing No. 37, he was their starting left fielder on Opening Day. He was 26 years old when he made his debut, hitting a pair of doubles. Thirty-eight games later, he was back in the Minors, playing for the Phillies' Minor League affiliate in Miami. Essegian hit .246 for the Phillies, with five homers and 16 RBIs.
"I really enjoyed my brief time with the Phillies," recalled Essegian, now 82 years old.
"There were some great guys on the team, Robin [Roberts], Curt [Simmons], Stan [Lopata] and Solly [Hemus]. Harry Anderson was a young outfielder. He had a beautiful swing from the left side. I had a lot of respect for those guys."
He chuckled and added, "We also had some characters, Dick Farrell, Seth Morehead, Jim Owens and Jack Sanford."
Hemus was traded by the Phillies following the 1958 season. He was a player/manager with the Cardinals in 1959, then managed them from 1960-61.
"Solly and I became good friends in the short time we were together with the Phillies," Essegian said. "When he became the Cardinals' manager, he called and said he hoped to work out a trade for me."
Essegian was dealt to the Cardinals for a young shortstop, Ruben Amaro Sr., in December 1958.
Essegian's stay in St. Louis was even shorter than his Phillies career, 17 games. The Cardinals sent him to Rochester, where he hit four home runs in 10 games. Then, he was traded again, this time to the Dodgers, who sent him to Spokane.
"At that point I thought about going back to Stanford and getting my degree. Pre-med student and dentistry entered my mind. But I decided to go to Spokane," he recalled.
After 48 games there (.295, nine home runs), the Dodgers brought Essegian back to the Majors. He hit one home run in 24 games. The Dodgers won the pennant, and Essegian found himself in a World Series.
Notoriety took over. He became the second athlete to appear in both the Rose Bowl and World Series. Jackie Jensen was the first, in the 1949 Rose Bowl with the University of California and the 1950 World Series with the Yankees.
Even more noteworthy, Essegian became the first player to hit two pinch-hit home runs in a World Series. His first came on Oct. 2, batting for Johnny Podres. The other was six days later, pinch-hitting for Duke Snider, a future Hall of Famer.
After baseball, Essegian went to work as a production trainee in a motion picture studio in Hollywood, but he then went to school and obtained a law degree. He practiced for 30 years in the Los Angeles area and retired six years ago.
Upon receiving "After The Game," the official newsletter for Phillies Alumni, this winter, Essegian called. He was hoping we would have a phone number for Hemus.
"We haven't talked for years and I've lost track of him."
Eventually, the two former teammates connected again. The bond of 56 years ago was still there.