Joseph Edward Sanchez passed away on November 20, 2019 at the age of 68.
Born in Brooklyn, NY on April 17, 1951, the youngest of five children of Leonard Richard & Rita Sanchez. Joe was raised in Lynbrook, Long Island, & later, Douglaston, Queens. He graduated in 1969 from Holy Cross High School in Flushing, NY, where he was the editor of the school yearbook & sports editor of the school paper (“The Lance”). He was also president of the Forensic Society & a member of the student council. During his senior year, his classmates voted him as “having done the most for Holy Cross”.
Joe attended Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, from where he graduated in 1973 with an AB in Communicative Arts. While at Seton Hall, Joe was a broadcaster on the student run radio station, WSOU. Primarily a sportscaster, Joe broadcast the 1971 College World Series & numerous collegiate basketball games throughout the country, including from Madison Square Garden. Two of Joe’s WSOU colleagues, Bob Ley & Bob Picozzi, went on to distinguished careers at ESPN.
Upon graduation, Joe accepted a job as sports director/air personality at WCMA radio in Corinth, MS, where in addition to broadcasting local high school football & basketball, Joe was also a country music disc jockey. Sensing the locals would have a hard time pronouncing his last name, Sanchez was at first known as “The Midnight Yankee”. Upon moving to the midday shift, he adopted the name “Joe Ed” Sanchez. Joe always felt he showed either a great deal of courage or a great amount of naiveté heading to the deep south less than 10 years after the murder of the Civil Rights workers & Civil Rights bill, only armed with his sense of humor. In 2008, Joe returned to Corinth with his sons, Matthew & Zachary, to emcee the Centennial Celebration of the legendary Red Barber.
In 1974, Joe joined WDLC radio in Port Jervis, NY, first as a newscaster, & later as the morning air personality & sportscaster. It was while with WDLC that Sanchez met the love of his life, Pamela Whitney, whom he courted over the airwaves by playing certain Frank Sinatra ballads that would signal a romantic luncheon for the youngsters.
Joe also spent a season as morning deejay on WNNJ in Newton, NJ between his two tours at WDLC.
One of the great mentors of Joe’s radio career was WDLC owner, Oscar Wein, who tutored Joe on losing his New “Yawk” accent, of which Joe was unaware of.
In 1979, Joe & Pam moved to Vero Beach, FL, where Joe became the midday personality for WTTB Radio. Shortly after, WTTB changed its format from music to news talk. This coincided with the Los Angeles Dodgers placing a Florida State League franchise in Vero Beach. As Joe had moved to hosting a talk show on WTTB, “Open Line”, he was named the station’s sports director. At that time, the Dodgers contracted WTTB to broadcast all their away games & Joe was named the broadcaster for away games & public address announcer for the home games.
After the Vero Dodgers inaugural season of 1980, Joe & Pam were married in a private ceremony at their Vero home.
As Joe had set out in broadcasting to be a radio baseball play by play announcer, the Vero Dodgers microphone was a dream come true & was hoped to be a launching pad to a major league opportunity.
Joe broadcast Vero Dodgers games from 1980 through 1987. He also took on the play by play task for Vero Beach Fighting Indians football & basketball games. Joe was on the air for both the Fighting Indians drive to the 1981 FSHAA class 4A football championship as well as the Dodgers 1983 FSL championship season.
In 1984, Joe moved into car sales with Janie Dean Chevrolet. He still managed to stay on the air with both the Dodgers & the Fighting Indians, but in 1987, an opportunity to become Sales Manager at Janie Dean arose, & Joe made the tough decision of relinquishing his broadcasting duties to spend more time with his family. Looking back at his time with the Dodgers, Joe said, “It was always fun. They don’t say ‘Work ball,’ they say, ‘Play ball.’”
Joe later returned to the airwaves in 1988 with the newly combined WGYL/WTTB as the morning sports commentator & play by play man for Vero High sports. Having stepped down from a managerial position in auto sales, Joe continued as a sales rep & freelance broadcaster.
Joe’s final fling with sports microphones came in 2001, when the Vero Dodgers offered him an opportunity to do the PA again. Joe remained at the Holman Stadium mic into the Vero Devil Rays era until professional baseball left the County in 2008. In 2015, Joe retired, & enjoyed his days spending time with his family. He had many travel adventures with his wife, including treks across the country & several cruises, with his favorite being the transatlantic “Viking” cruise. Joe spent countless hours in his retirement playing his favorite game, Strat-o-matic baseball.
Joe & Pam parented six children. The first, Leonard Richard II, was born prematurely in March of 1983, & passed shortly thereafter. Joe spent a vigil at “Ricky’s” neonatal bedside in Kennesaw, GA. Joe is survived by his wife & five children. His eldest daughter, Nikola Leigh, was born in June 1984, red headed & healthy. Nikola was followed by a son, Matthew Ryan; daughter, Whitney Joelle (Joelle after Joe, not Superman’s father); son, Zachary Hogan (Hogan after Joe’s maternal grandfather, Timothy Hogan); & daughter, Alexandra Noelle. In February of this year, Joe walked “Nikki” down the aisle & handed her off to her husband, Matthew Kyle Andersen.
Joe is also survived by his brother, Timothy (Jim Haigney), sister, Honora Browne (Jack), & four favorite felines. Joe joins Ricky, his parents, & his brothers, Leonard J. & Stephen, in heaven, as well as his late favorite cat, Nala, & many best friends that went before him. He also joins countless baseball greats that he is likely interviewing right now.
Joseph “Holiday Joe”, “Midnight Yankee”, “Joe Ed”, Sanchez, the Voice of the Vero Beach Dodgers, was deeply loved by all who knew him. It has been said, if you are truly fortunate, you might come across 2 or 3 friends like Joe in your lifetime. Joe passed after a heroic 10-month battle with leukemia. His family was at his bedside in Vero Beach, FL. He is missed by all who knew him, but his spirit will live on through all of us. May he rest in peace.
Services for Joe will be held at Historic Dodgertown on Saturday, November 30th, at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to NPR or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Arrangements are under the direction of Millennium Cremation Service, Vero Beach. Condolences may be shared online at www.millenniumcremationservice.com.
The service from Millennium was outstanding. Rachel was sweet, personable and very comforting. It was important to me that my dad was kept locally where I knew where he would be. Very nice facility, state of the art and quality of my fathers remains were so refined compared to my mothers years ago. I highly recommend this place for an affordable choice for your loved one. Thank you for making an already stressful event easy. With high regards, the Esposito and Keith Family.