New York Yankees All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez is married to Sahaira Sanchez. The couple are parents to daughter Sarah, who the 24-year-old catcher has credited with inspiring him to turn his life around.
Sanchez was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and was signed by the Yankees as an international free agent in 2009. He finally made his MLB debut in October 2015 and got significant time behind the plate in 2016, when he played in 53 games and hit 20 home runs.
In 2017, Sanchez has already played in 57 games, knocking in 13 home runs, 40 RBIs and hitting .276 with a .850 on base percentage. He will also take part in the 2017 Home Run Derby with fellow Yankee, Aaron Judge.
Here’s what you need to know about Sanchez’s wife and their family.
1. Sanchez Credits His Wife With Keeping Him Grounded
Celebrating our anniversary. This is the woman that has been with me in the good and the bad. Who keeps me grounded, watches out for me and who is a wonderful mother. Celebrando nuestro aniversario. Esta es la mujer que ha estado conmigo en las buenas y malas. Que me mantiene humilde, que me cuida y que es una madre excelente.
On January 7, Sanchez and Sahaira celebrated their wedding anniversary. He posted the above photo on Instagram that day.
“Celebrating our anniversary. This is the woman that has been with me in the good and the bad. Who keeps me grounded, watches out for me and who is a wonderful mother,” he wrote in January.
Sanchez has shared several photos of his wife and family on Instagram. In November 2016, he shared a photo with her in Las Vegas. “night out with my better half,” he wrote. After the 2016 season ended, Sanchez and his wife vacationed in Costa Rica.
In a Facebook post, Sanchez wrote that he has received “no blessing greater than” his wife and daughter.
2. Their Daughter Sarah Changed Sanchez’s Life & Made Him More Responsible
In several recent interviews, Sanchez has said that his wife and daughter have inspired him to become a better man, on and off the field. Their daughter Sarah is now 2 and a half years old.
Before becoming a father, Sanchez complained about not starting a minor league game and refused to warm up a reliever five years ago, reports ESPN. The Yankees responded by demoting him to their Class-A affiliate. The Yankees hoped he’d become a better player, but his disciplinary issues made them question their commitment.
That experience and becoming a father made him realize that he needed to be mature. In the 2015 season, he became serious about his development as a baseball player.
“It is a beautiful experience to become a dad,” Sanchez told ESPN through a translator in September 2016. “It is kind of like once you become a dad, that’s your all and you want to make sure you can provide everything she needs. It was very important because, when she was born, it was kind of like a new life began for me because it is a lot of responsibility, so you want to make sure that you can give it your all so you can get to the big leagues and you can stay in the big leagues and, definitely, it is a changing experience.”
3. Sanchez Says They Were ‘Very Surprised’ When Sahaira Learned She Was Pregnant
Sanchez told MLB.com in June that they were “very surprised” when they learned that Saharia was pregnant. However, they were “very happy” about the news.
Sanchez said through an interpreter that he cut the umbilical cord when Sarah was born.
“When I first saw her, I was afraid to hold her,” Sanchez told MLB.com. “As a man, you feel like you’re going to hurt the baby. She was very tiny and fragile. I didn’t want to harm her in any way.”
Sanchez said that before Sarah was born, he was trying to become a “more mature player,” but becoming a father made him realize that he couldn’t squander his opportunity to be a big league player.
4. Their Daughter Listens to Sahaira More, but She Likes to Play With her Dad
Sanchez told ESPN in May that Sarah listens to Sahaira more than her father. However, she still likes to play with her dad.
The catcher told ESPN that sometimes she will ask him if he’s going to a ballpark whenever he leaves the house.
His friends say that Sanchez’s personality changed dramatically after Sarah was born. “It was like the light switch flipped on,” Julio Mosquera, a minor league Yankees manager, told ESPN.
5. Sanchez Was 22 Years Old When His Daughter Was Born
Had a blast at the @peopleenespanol Festival today. Met fans, took part in panel with @kanygarcia and met some really cool people. Overall, great experience. Thanks to @funkydivanyc for the styling and John Varvatos for the wardrobe. #ElGary Tremenda experiencia hoy en el Festival de @peopleenespanol. Compartí con fanáticos, participé en un panel con @kanygarcia y conocí mucha gente bacana. Gracias a @funkydivanyc. #festivalpeople
Sanchez and Sahaira are a young couple, as Sanchez was only 22 years old when Sarah was born.
Sanchez began his pro baseball career early, too. When he was 16 years old, the Yankees signed him as an international free agent. ESPN reports that he was handed a 42 million signing bonus and arrived in the U.S. without knowing English.
In 2010, Sanchez began his minor league career with the class-A Staten Island Yankees. In a 2010 SI Live interview, Sanchez said he knew there would be better opportunities to play baseball in the U.S. That’s why he agreed to leave the Dominican Republic at such a young age.
“There is much more opportunity to play over here,” Sanchez told SI Live. “There are games almost every day as opposed to the DR where there are limited teams and chances to play against different players. The more you play, the more experience you get, and that’s key. Regular at bats, seeing many different pitches, even being behind the plate and seeing how your own pitchers work. It’s all important.”
Sanchez was on track to fulfill the Yankees’ dreams of developing him into a great catcher, but his work ethic didn’t improve until Sarah’s birth.
“Before, you had to force him to do things,” bench coach Tony Pena told MLB.com of Sanchez. “Now he understands that he needs to keep improving. He’s doing it. Sometimes it’s the nature of human beings. Some people grow up faster than others. I think there are a lot of Latin American players that it takes a long time to grow. I love to see the way he handles himself.”