|June 6, 1999
Ex-Big Leaguer Eddie Stanky Dies
Filed at 9:25 p.m. EDT
By The Associated Press
FAIRHOPE, Ala. (AP) -- Eddie Stanky, a fiery second baseman who helped three different teams win National League pennants, died Sunday of a heart attack. He was 83.
Stanky, nicknamed ``The Brat,'' played 11 seasons in the majors and had a career batting average of .268. He led the NL in walks three times and in runs scored once.
He played on pennant winners with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, the Boston Braves in 1948 and the New York Giants in 1951.
When Bobby Thomson hit his pennant-winning homer for the Giants in 1951, Stanky ran out of the dugout and jumped on the back of manager Leo Durocher, who was coaching third base.
Stanky ended his career as a player-manager for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953, and later managed the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers. He managed the Rangers for just one game in 1977, then quit because he was homesick.
His record as a major league manager was 467-435.
Stanky also was a successful coach at the University of South Alabama, where he compiled a 488-193 record during his 14-year tenure. After taking over the school's lowly baseball program in 1969, he led the Jaguars to five NCAA tournaments, two Sun Belt Conference titles and two No. 1 rankings.
``I had played in beautiful parks with beautiful locker rooms,'' Stanky said. ``At South Alabama, I inherited a rock pile for a ball field, with no dugouts, a four-foot-high fence around it and no grass on the infield.''
Stanky helped change all that by putting a much improved product on the field.
``He brought the University of South Alabama from just about point-zero to a national power in three or four years,'' said South Alabama coach Steve Kittrell, who played for Stanky at the school for three seasons. ``He put South Alabama on the map athletically.''
Stanky briefly left the school to manage the Rangers in June 1977. The Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 10-8 in his first game, but Stanky resigned the next day in Minneapolis.
Eddie Robinson, who was then the Rangers' executive vice president, was in his hotel room when he got a call that morning from Stanky.
``I said, `Hey. You want to have a cup of coffee?''' Robinson recalled.
``He said, `I'm at the airport.'
``I said, `Why are you at the airport?'
``He said, `I can't take the job. I'm getting on an airplane. I'm homesick for my family.' Then he hung up.''
Stanky then flew back to Mobile, where he got his old job back at South Alabama.
``The (Texas) players just joked about it,'' said Tom Grieve, a former Rangers player who is now a broadcaster for the team. ``The players started saying, `Gee. What if we would have lost that game? What would he have done then?'''
Stanky, who missed the 1980 season at South Alabama after undergoing open heart surgery, was a tough, demanding coach.
``He was hard to play for,'' said Pete Phillips, who played under Stanky at South Alabama. ``He accepted no excuses, but he showed responsibility for us as a ballplayer and as a person.''
Stanky, who retired in 1983, was an old-style ballplayer who wasn't afraid of new ideas. He advocated the adoption of the designated hitter -- now used in the American League and the NCAA -- more than 20 years before it was approved.
Stanky was elected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.
Stanky is survived by his wife, Dickie; three daughters, Beverly, Kay and Marianne; and one son, Mike. Funeral arrangements were incomplete Sunday.