Throughout the history of professional baseball, there have been hundreds of players who spent years in the minor leagues, dreaming of their chance to make it to The Show. Many such players never get called up at all. Others do get to play in the major leagues, but only for a very short time.
Pete Dalena was such a player. He made his major league debut with the Indians on July 7, 1989. Exactly two weeks later, he played in his fifth and final major league game. In seven plate appearances with the Tribe, Dalena got one hit, a pinch-hit double in the ninth. He was stranded at second base when the game ended, and thus never scored a run.
A first baseman in college, Dalena had the good fortune to be selected in the 27th round of the 1982 amateur draft. Unfortunately for Dalena, he was drafted by the New York Yankees, and they had a fellow by the name of Don Mattingly who made his major league debut that same year. Mattingly became a fixture at first the following season, and for the next twelve after that. Dalena played first for the Yankees’ AAA affiliate from 1982 through 1988. That fall, he asked for free agency; it was granted, and Dalena signed a minor league contract with the Indians.
Dalena began the 1989 season with the Indians’ AAA team in Colorado Springs, where he had a terrific start, batting .358 in 71 games, This earned him a call-up to the varsity in July. Dalena started in only one game, going 0 for 3.
In late July, the Indians found themselves having to play two doubleheaders in a fifteen-day span, causing Tribe manager Doc Edwards to add an eleventh pitcher to the staff. Dalena was sent back down to AAA. It probably didn’t help his chances much when another young hitter was brought up during Dalena’s brief tenure, an outfielder who would later change his name from Joey to Albert Belle. When the 1989 season ended, the Indians released Dalena.
Today Dalena works as the boys’ baseball coach for his alma mater, San Joaquin Memorial High School, in Fresno, California.