Sep 2, 2016

1951 N.L. Champion New York Giants Infielder: "The Brat" Eddie Stanky (1950-1951)

Edward Raymond Stanky was born in Philadelphia, Pa. 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  never ending determination to win, that made him such a tough valuable team player.

He would do whatever it took to get on base, hit, walk or take one for the team. He then would find some way to annoy the pitcher, as well as other position players, advance a 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 also do anything he could to get base runners 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.

Quotes: Leo Durocher said “he can’t hit, can’t run, cant field, but all that little SOB can do is win. He’ll beat you every time.”

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 (1944) he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he would play  for four seasons, winning his first pennant there. In his first season, he led the league in walks (148) runs scored (128) &at bats (726) for 1945. That year he batted .258 with 29 doubles, 5 HRs & a posted 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 alone.

Although he made a league leading 34 errors at second, he was first in put outs & second in assists.

The next year (1946) he led the league in walks once again (137) as well as on base % (.436%) & sacrifice hits (20) while 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. He was part of a the Dodger infield when Jackie Robinson made his historic MLB debut that same season.

At first Stanky was quiet, but one day as the Philadelphia bench was shouting insults at Robinson, Stanky stood up & shouted back. Soon most other Dodger players stood up for their team mate as well, most notably Pee Wee Reese. This scene is portrayed in the film "42".

Once again he drew over 100 walks, while posting a .373 on base %, & scoring 97 runs. In 559 at bats he only struck out 39 times. That year Brooklyn beat out the St. Louis Cardinals by five games to win the pennant.

Post Season: In the 1947 World Series; Stanky drew three walks, going 6-21, with a sacrifice & two RBIs, while batting .240 playing in all seven games.

One classic play in this series was when Jackie Robinson stole home & was called safe. Catcher Yogi Berra argued & still to this day claims Robinson was out.

In Game #2 at Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn, he helped fuel a six run Dodger 2nd inning, with a two run single scoring Pee Wee Reese & pitcher; Joe Hatten.

In  Spring Training of 1948 he was traded to the Boston Braves, for cash & a player to be named later. That season he was limited to just 67 games batting .320 on the year for the first place Braves of Warren Spahn & Johnny Sain.

He made it to his second straight World Series in 1948 with the Braves, losing to the Cleveland Indians in six games. Stanky batted .286 (4-14) with a .524 on base % as he drew 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.

His old pal Leo Durocher was now managing the New York Giants after he had come over from the rival Brooklyn Dodgers as well. It was there Stanky had played & impressed Leo. One of Durocher’s first moves in New York was to get Stanky on his team in the Polo Grounds.

Stanky & Alvin Dark would make up a fantastic duo up the middle infield, turning 128 double plays on the Giants infield. Stanky posted a .976 fielding % leading the league in games played at second, put outs & assists. He would make the All Star team & come in third place 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 a pair of 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. He is the most visible jumping around third base & grabbing Leo Durocher with a hug of disbelief, as well as joy in the coaching box. Stanky is the guy wearing his jacket, as Leo throws his cap in the air.

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 the moniker "the Brat". He kicked the ball out of AL New York's 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 (35th 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 (91st all time) making 3030 put outs (59th all time) 3215 assists (92nd all time) making 162 errors (96th all time) posting a .975 fielding %.

Retirement: He first coached in Cleveland for the Indians after his playing days. He then came back to work in the front office in St. Louis during the early sixties.

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. The Red Sox won the pennant in the year known as "The Impossible Dream" season in Boston. At the same time, across town his old pal Leo Durocher was managing the Chicago Cubs.

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, winning five championships in 14 seasons. There he was inducted into the Mobile Alabama Sports Hall of Fame & is honored with a bronze statue.

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, and returned to coach for Alabama. Stanky passed away at Alabama in 1990 at age 83.

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