Fasano’s Fu Manchu Flashed in Tribe’s Pan During 2008 Season
The most fascinating stat about this week’s Flash in a Pan is that over the course of his 11-year career, he only played about two and a half seasons worth of games. (Not to mention he had some of the greatest facial hair in recent history.)
This week’s flash is none other than handlebar-mustachioed Sal Fasano.
Fasano’s career with the Indians was brief. He was only with the team in 2008, and he only played sporadically after being acquired from Atlanta. However, his 15 games with Cleveland may have been his most successful stint of any throughout his career. He hit .261 with six RBI. He only walked three times and was a regular victim of the K, striking out 17 times. His final career MLB appearance would be in an Indians uniform on Sep. 14, 2008.
Sal Fasano’s career began in the 1993 amateur draft when the Kansas City Royals selected him in the 37th round. After three seasons in the minors, Fasano made Kansas City’s opening day roster despite not even playing a single game in Triple-A. However, Fasano struggled mightily his rookie year and it led to the Royals demoting him before the end of July. That rookie campaign saw Fasano hit a mere .203 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 51 games.
The next season was much more short-lived for Fasano. He only made 13 appearances and hit just .211 with one solo home run. In 1998, Fasano would play 74 games for Kansas City. However, many of the improvements were minimal at best. He hit only .227. Despite hitting eight homers and a career high 31 RBI, it wasn’t enough to get him a regular starting job and the next year, he was back to playing only 23 games. 1999 turned out to be Fasano’s final season with the Royals, and he didn’t exactly go out with a bang. He hit .233 with five home runs and 16 RBI.
Oakland purchased Fasano prior to the 2000 season. However, the green and yellow wasn’t any more kind to the catcher than the royal blue. Fasano only hit .214 with seven home runs and 19 RBI. That October, Fasano would get his first and only taste of playoff action in the ALDS against the Yankees. It was one of the most short-lived playoff appearances in history, as Fasano entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning of the Game 5 loss to New York.
Fasano began the 2001 campaign with the A’s, but he would only last until mid May, when he was purchased by the Royals. His return tour of Kansas City lasted just over a month. In that span, he went 0-1 in three games. The Royals would trade Fasano and Mac Suzuki to Colorado on Jun. 21 for Brent Mayne. Playing for his third team of the season (not including his stints in the minors), Fasano hit .254 with three home runs and nine RBI in 25 games with the Rockies.
The 2002 season was another tour for Fasano. He signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays prior to the season, but was released in June without making a single appearance for them. He signed with Milwaukee a few days later, where he would play in the minors until the trade deadline when he was traded with Alex Ochoa to the Anaheim Angels for Jorge Fabregas and two players to be named later. Just like his brief 2001 stint with the Royals, Fasano went 0-1 (this time in three games) with the Angels. Unfortunately for Fasano, he didn’t make the playoff roster for Anaheim’s run to the title.
After being released by the Angels after the season, Fasano would be out of baseball for the entire 2003 season. The Yankees signed him prior to the 2004 season, but he was released after spending the entire season in the minors. Finally, in 2005, Fasano’s long journey back to the MLB was made possible by the Baltimore Orioles. Fasano promptly rewarded the Orioles for their gamble by hitting .250 with a career-high 11 home runs and 20 RBI. However, the power surge wasn’t enough for Baltimore to bring back the resurgent catcher as he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Fasano became a popular player inPhiladelphia, despite his limited playing time. His Fu Manchu helped lead to the creation of Sal’s Pals – a group of fans that would attend Phillies games with long hair and moustaches. Fasano was grateful for the gesture and thanked those fans by sending them free pizzas. However, the Phillies traded Fasano to the Yankees for Hector Made. This time, Fasano would actually play for the Yankees rather than just their minor league affiliates. After only hitting .143 with a homer and five RBI for the Yankees, they decided to let him go after the season.
Fasano would play north of the border in 2007 after the Blue Jays signed him before the season. His stint in Toronto was extremely brief, as he only played 16 games while hitting .178 with a homer and four RBI. The Blue Jays brought him back for the 2008 season, but released him prior to opening day. The Braves picked him up, but sent him to the Indians after Victor Martinez went to the disabled list.
Sal Fasano wouldn’t play in the MLB after his time in Cleveland was up. He would play in the minors for Colorado in 2009, but retired after the season. He was always known as one of the most likable players in the majors. In an article written by ESPN.com’s Jeff Pearlman in 2007, he said, “When I think of Sal Fasano, however, I think of greatness. Not of Willie Mays or Ted Williams greatness, but of a uniquely excellent human being who, were class and decency the most valued standards of a career, would be the easiest Hall of Fame inductee of all time.”
Fasano is the manager of New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Toronto’s AA affiliate. In 2011, he won the AA Manager of the Year after leading the Fisher Cats to an Eastern League championship.
It appears that Sal Fasano is on the fast track to becoming an MLB manager. For a guy who never once lost his passion despite never finding a home with one team, it’s hard not to root for him.