When the “Modern Day” Brats Were Too Much For Eddie Stanky

For Eddie Stanky, one game back in Major League baseball as manager was enough to send him packing up for his native Alabama.

Oddly Stanky won his last game as a manager when his Texas Rangers, behind recently inducted Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, bested the Orioles at Baltimore, 5-1 on July 22, 1977.

At mid-season, the Rangers summoned Stanky from the University of South Alabama to replace embattled Frank Luchessi. Nearly a decade had passed since the Chicago White Sox fired Stanky after a 34-45 1968 start. But immediately after his win over the Orioles, Stanky abruptly resigned and, citing homesickness, returned to his old Jaguars’ job where he eventually compiled a 488-193 record (.717).

Insiders reported however that Stanky, known during his playing days as “the Brat”, could not tolerate the “modern day” players’ attitudes. This, keep in mind, was 35 years ago! Imagine what Stanky’s tolerance level would be in 2011 with hammies, quads and pitch counts—maybe one inning?

Stanky’s on field skills were limited. According to Leo Durocher: “He can’t hit, can’t run, can’t field. He’s no nice guy… all the little SOB can do is win.” Durocher had Stanky pegged right. From 1947 to 1951, Stanky (.268 career BA) appeared in three World Series with three different National League champions, the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves, and New York Giants.

So determined to win was Stanky that he created two baseball plays that were quickly declared illegal.

Whenever Stanky was the third base runner, he stood several feet behind the bag in short left field. When a fly ball was hit, Stanky would time its arc, then take off running so he could step on third base just as the catch was made. That allowed Stanky to race home at full speed making it almost impossible to throw him out. This tactic was declared illegal following the season.

“The Brat” was also infamous for what became called “the Stanky maneuver”. From his second base position, Stanky would distract opposing batters by drifting behind the pitcher, then jumping up and down and waving his arms to distract opposing batters.

Stanky, who died at age 83, is a 1990 Mobile Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

Footnote about the 1977 Rangers: The team had four managers within a five day period: Luchessi, Stanky, interim manager Connie Ryan and Billy Hunter who made it to the end of the season.

One Reply to “When the “Modern Day” Brats Were Too Much For Eddie Stanky”

  1. My recollection of Eddie Stanky, who wore the #12 for both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, came early on: my father, a loyal NY Yankee fan, thought Stanky ill-equipped to play Major League baseball. I thought otherwise, but expressed my doubts quietly. But Stanky was not alone: listed in the Dodger ranks of the mid-40s were such forgettables as Augie Galan and Frenchy Bordegray, along with a 17 year old named Tommy Brown. But Stanky, who may have been too old to be drafted, was the team’s glue, and along with the clutch hitting of “Dixie” Walker, kept the Dodger team in line for a pennant, which they almost won in 1946, losing to the Cardinals in the playoffs. With the arrival of Jackie Robinson the following year, however, both Stanky (from Alabama) and Walker (from Georgia) told Branch Rickey that they could not play on the same team with Robinson, and both were traded. Stanky and Walker’s departures coincided with the dominance of the Dodgers in the league: from 1947-57, when they departed Brooklyn, the Dodgers won 6 National League championships, albeit only one World Series.
    But it was Stanky’s determination and the belief that winning was everything that marked him as a fiery opponent to one and all, and in this mindset he found his home with Manager Leo Durocher. It is not suprising, then, that he would rail against those who sought the “easy way” out. Stanky lived and played in another baseball universe, and I suspect would not have been at ease in the present one.

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