Edward Raymond Stanky was born in Philadelphia on September 3, 1916. The five foot eight inch second baseman originally came up with the Chicago Cubs in 1943. He made 27 errors (second most in the league) as well as posting the third most assists & put outs. He batted .245 but walked 92 times (4th best in the NL) posting a .363 on base % while scoring 92 runs (5th in the league).
Stanky never hit for high batting averages but always drew a lot of walks, which gave him good on base percentages. It was these qualities along with a relentless determination to win, which made him such a tough valuable team player. He would do whatever it took to get on base, then advance another base, & score a run.
At his position on second base, he would distract batters by jumping up & down as the pitch was delivered. He would do anything to get base runners & batters out, standing up to anyone sliding into his base as well.
As a second baseman Stanky led the league in put outs three times, assists & fielding percentage one time each. He was quick to turn a double play, turning 100 or more four separate seasons, making 816 in his career. Leo Durocher said of him“he can’t hit, can’t run, cant field, but all that little SOB can do is win. He’ll beat you every time.”
Stanky was part of the original infield on the historic day Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The pesky second baseman earned the nick name “the Brat”.
As a base runner, on third base, he would stand several feet behind the base. Then as a fly ball was hit, he would run at full speed timing the arc of the outfielders throw, so he could touch third base as the fielder caught the ball. By that time he was at full speed making it almost impossible to throw him out at home.
The league eventually changed the rule so a runner had to tag up on the base, not being able to advance until the fielder caught the ball.
In Stanky’s sophomore year in 1944 he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers. He would play in Brooklyn for four seasons, leading the league in walks (148) runs scored (128) & at bats (726) in his first full season in 1945. That year he batted .258 with 29 doubles, 5 HRs & a .417 on base % (5th in the league) getting 19 sacrifice hits (4th in the NL).
He was one of the toughest men to strike out during his playing time, striking out just 42 times that season. Although he made a league leading 34 errors at second, he was first in put outs & second in assists.
The next year he led the league in walks again (137) as well as on base % (.436%) & sacrifice hits (20) batting .273 with 24 doubles.
He was so valuable to his team he came in seventh in the league’s MVP voting. By 1947 he was one of the game’s best infielders, making his first All Star team, leading the NL at second base in fielding (.985%) second in putouts, & third in assists. Once again he drew over 100 walks, posting a .373 on base %, scoring 97 runs.
In 559 at bats he only struck out 39 times. In the 1947 World Series he drew three walks, going 6-21 with two RBIs batting .240
In 1948 he was traded to the Boston Braves, but was limited to just 67 games batting .320 on the year. He made it to another Brooklyn Dodger World Series in 1948 batting .286 (4-14) with a .524 on base % while drawing seven walks. After batting .285 with 144 hits, 24 doubles 5 triples & a .417 on base % in 1949, he was traded that December along with Alvin Dark to the New York Giants for Sid Gordon, Buddy Kerr, Willard Marshall and Red Webb.
Leo Durocher was now managing the New York Giants after coming over from the Brooklyn Dodgers where Stanky had once played for him. One of Durocher’s first moves was to get Stanky on his team in the Polo Grounds.
Stanky & Dark made a fantastic duo up the middle, turning 128 double plays on the Giants infield. He posted a .976 fielding % leading the league in games played at second, put outs, assists, making the All Star team & coming in third in the MVP voting.
That season Stanky had one of his best years at the plate as well, leading the N.L. in on base percentage (.460) & walks (144). He batted .300 with 25 doubles, 8 HRs, posting career highs in RBIs (51) & stolen bases (9). It was the only time he played a full season & batted .300. In mid May he had a three hit game where he hit two HRs & drove in three runs in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
A typical Stanky play occurred on July 25th at the Polo Grounds. He drew a 9th inning walk in a 6-6 ties against the Cincinnati Reds, then stole second base & reached third base on an error. He then scored the game winning run on a Don Mueller sac fly. At the end of August he set a record by drawing seven consecutive walks, coming over a two game span at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He drew walks in eleven consecutive games that month. On September 15th he had another multi HR game, hitting a pair of HRs in a game at Wrigley Field.
In 1951 he was the Giants main second baseman again, as they made their dramatic come back to tie the Brooklyn Dodgers forcing a three game playoff at the end of the season. He kept his average up over .300 until June but even as it dropped off he helped the Giants all year with his bat. In July he hit an 8th inning two run HR off the Reds Howie Fox leading Larry Jansen & New York to a 3-2 win.
On August 21st he sparked a 4-1 Giants comeback in the home 8th inning with a lead off HR. The Giants went on to a 5-4 win extending their win streak to ten games. At the start of September he scored two runs in an 8-1 win over the Dodgers & then scored three more runs the next day in an 11-2 win. On September 24th Stanky singled off the Boston Braves Chet Nichols in the bottom of the 9th inning scoring Davey Williams with the game winning run.
He drove in runs in the next two games at Philadelphia & went on a an eight game hit streak. In the month of September he scored 15 runs
Stanky contributed by hitting a career high 14 HRs with 17 doubles & 43 RBIs. Although his average dropped to .247 he still posted a .400 on base percentage walking 127 times (2nd most in the league). In the classic third game of the 1951 playoffs, when Bobby Thomson hit the Shot heard round the World, pennant winning HR, Stanky went 0-4.
Post Season: In the 1951 World Series he only hit .136 (3-22) drawing three walks & driving in a run. In a famous play sliding into second base, Stanky lived up to moniker "the Brat". He kicked the ball out of short stop Phil Rizzuto’s glove, getting the safe call while sliding into second base. He would go onto score one of his three World Series runs following that play.
After the season he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals as his career began to wind down at age 35. He became the team’s player manager and the following season, he was named The Sporting News Manager of the Year. His team still finished in third place, although they had won seven more games than the previous year. The Cards ownership switched hands to the Busch family in 1955 & Stanky was let go.
In 1953 he finished his playing career. The Brat played for 11 seasons, posting a .410 on base percentage (34th all time best) with 996 walks (118th all time). He had 1154 hits, 29 HRs 185 doubles 35 triples, 364 RBIs & a .268 batting average in 1259 games played. In his career he only went down 374 times by striking out in 4301 at bats. At second base he played in 1152 games (87th all time) making 3030 put outs (59th all time) 3215 assists (90th all time) making 162 errors (96th all time) posting a .975 fielding %.
Retirement: He coached in Cleveland for the Indians then came back to work in the front office in St. Louis in the early sixtites. In 1965 he worked for the New York Mets in their front office, before moving on to manage the Chicago White Sox for three seasons (1966-1968).
In 1967 his Sox were in the pennant race until the final days of the season when the lowly Kansas City A’s knocked them out of contention, finishing three games behind the Boston Red Sox. He was let go as manager in Chicago after a slow start in 1968. After that he became a successful coach at the University of South Alabama, getting inducted into the Mobile Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
In 1977 he made a brief return to MLB, managing the Texas Rangers replacing Frank Lucchesi after all the drama involving him & Lenny Randle. Stanky had second thoughts, changed his mind and returned to coach at Alabama.
Stanky passed away in Alabama in 1990 at age 83.