You don’t meet too many Stans any more. Not sure why. It is a good reliable name. But for whatever reason it has faded away as a name the way that Edith and Ethel have fallen out of style for girl names.
But to honor that fading from memory name, I decided to create a 25 man roster using only guys named Stan.
As always, I list 8 starting players, 5 starting pitchers, 5 relievers, a pinch hitter, 2 reserve infielders, 2 reserve outfielders, a back up catcher and a 25th player who could be any position.
So let’s span the Stans… from Musial to Papi.
A big league catcher played from 1948 to 1960 with the Phillies and Braves. A two time All Star, he earned his biggest star before his big league debut:
He got a Bronze Star as well as a Purple Heart serving with the 14th Armored Division in Europe during World War II.
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
The Massachusetts native played five seasons in the bigs, mainly with the Phillies and a cup of coffee with Cleveland.
Later he became a scout for the Astros and told them to try and pick up another native New Englander first baseman named Jeff Bagwell from the Red Sox. Smart guy.
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
In the great documentary Spaceman – A Baseball Odyssey, I kind of sort of trashed Stan Papi. I felt that he wasn’t NEARLY enough compensation for the trade involving Bill Lee.
In the Red Sox defense, they DID get the best second baseman named Stan that I could find.
And he gave me and my brother an autograph in 1980. Maybe I was too harsh on him.
The “Happy Rabbit” played one game for the 1942 Dodgers and then decided to make the world safe for Democracy.
He flew bomber missions in the Pacific before returning to baseball after the war. He played from 1946 to 1952 in the bigs, helping the Dodgers win the 1947 pennant (Jackie Robinson’s first year) and finishing 10th in the 1948 NL MVP vote.
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
Hack was a 5 time All Star who twice finished in the top 10 in the MVP vote. He played in 4 different World Series with the Cubs, including in 1945 their last pennant to date. He was a career .301 hitter and got a few Hall of Fame votes.
And he was a part of a Bill Veeck promotion gone wrong. The Cubs handed out mirrors with a picture of Hack on them during a game… and fans used them to reflect light in the players eyes. They were all confiscated.
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
Named by his father, former St. Louis Cardinal Julian Javier, after the greatest Stan of all (Musial… spoiler alert) Stan never was a star, but he had a nice career.
He played 16+ seasons in the bigs, won a ring with the 1989 A’s and played for 5 other playoff teams.
He was traded to the A’s in a deal involving Rickey Henderson and later dealt from Oakland to the Dodgers for Willie Randolph. Anytime you can be swapped for All Stars, you know you are a good player.
STARTING CENTER FIELDER
A four time AL All Star, he lead the league in triples in 1942 and drove in 100 runs in 1944.
He scored the eventual winning run in the 1947 All Star Game with his smart baserunning.
There is a Little League in his native Kentucky named after him.
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
Is it possible for a first ballot Hall of Famer who got more than 93% of his only vote to be underrated? A 3 time MVP, a 3 time World Series champ and the 4th all time in hits has stats that could make everyone happy. He was a .331 career hitter… had a career .976 OPS and in the category of Adjusted Batting Wins, he is 5th All Time.
Bahnsen was a beacon of hope for the Yankees in the late 1960s when the team was in serious decline. The 1968 Yankees put together a winning season after losing 90 in 1967 and Bahnsen was a big part of the turn around. He won 17 games and posted a 2.05 ERA over 267 1/3 innings as a rookie. (No Joba rules for him.)
He was elected Rookie of the Year that year. He won 18 and 21 games with the White Sox in the 1970s and pitched for 16 seasons.
He didn’t bring the Yankees back to post season glory, but he WAS teammates with Mickey Mantle AND Julio Franco… making him a great connector in a “Six Degrees of Separation” game.
“Big Daddy” was 6’5″ and 230 lbs, big in ANY era. The New Hampshire native made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 1958, their first year in LA.
He pitched in the 1959 World Series for the Champs and was an able 14-15 game winner. But a team that already had Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres could afford to deal an arm for a bat and off Williams went to the Yankees for Moose Skowron. He pitched in the 1963 World Series for the Yankees against his former team. The Dodgers won the Series but Williams threw three shutout innings in his only appearance.
He struck out Skowron.
In 1986, the last year the Pirates wore their bad ass “We Are Family” hats, the Pirates recalled a 21 year old pitcher from their minor league team in Hawaii.
Fansler pitched in 5 games and won none of them… but actually didn’t pitch badly. He finished with a respectable 3.75 ERA. In a game on September 18th, he pitched 6 strong innings against Montreal and Dennis Martinez. In fact it was a scoreless tie until the bottom of the 6th when Andres Gallaraga drove in a run. He looked like he was going to be a hard luck loser until the Bucs rallied in the 9th, scoring 3 off of Jeff Reardon.
Despite his young age and his decent numbers the following season in AAA, the Pirates never brought him back up. Odd. He seemed to pitch well enough to warrant another chance.
I can’t help but wonder what a beloved Pirate Belinda would have been if Francisco Cabrera popped up… or if Jose Lind didn’t boot that grounder in the 9th inning of Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS. He’s a native of Pennsylvania, a hard worker who didn’t have the best stuff and made it all the way to the big leagues. He was part of three straight division titles in Pittsburgh and saved double digit games. And he is battling MS, showing is grit and resolve in real life as well.
But none of that matters. He’ll always be the guy who let up Francisco Cabrera’s hit. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
A lefty for the St. Louis Browns, he pitched well out of the rotation and the bullpen. He missed the 1944 World Series for the Browns. Why? Because he was out fighting to keep the world free and safe.
The former coal miner, he is honored at the Hutchinson Coal Miners Memorial.
On June 12, 1983, the rising Toronto Blue Jays were playing the star studden defending Division Champion Toronto Blue Jays in Anaheim. It was a back and forth game with the Blue Jays breaking a scoreless tie in the 7th and the Angels taking the lead in the bottom of the same inning. The Jays took the lead in the 9th with a 2 run homer by Ernie Whitt… only to blow it in the bottom of the 9th when Rod Carew hit a 2 out game tying single. The game went into the 14th when, with 1 out and 2 on, the Angels looked ready to win the game with Fred Lynn at the plate. Blue Jays manager Bobby Cox brought in Stan Clarke to face Lynn. It was Clarke’s second appearance in the big leagues… but he pulled it off, getting Lynn to hit into an inning ending double play.
The Blue Jays would score 3 the next inning and make a winner out of Clarke. He would win only 2 more games in his career… but none more exciting than his first.
A right handed reliever and spot starter, he had a solid 1975 season with the Texas Rangers, posting a 3.00 over 60 innings. But career went downhill after he was traded to the Cleveland organization.
Stan is the cousin of former Dodgers pitching coach Ron Perranoski… clearly their uncles went to different lines at Ellis Island.
Some players stick with one team their whole career and can be truly associated with a single franchise.
Then there are guys like Stan Thomas, who in four seasons played for four different teams. He wasn’t bad. In fact he pitched well out of the pen for both Texas and Cleveland… but kept getting passed from team to team.
His last game in the bigs was the last day of the 1977 season when he somehow wound up on the Yankees. He was mopping up the final 4 innings as clearly Billy Martin was saving his arms for the playoffs. He pitched poorly, letting up 4 runs. But Elrod Hendricks led an 8th inning rally that gave the Yankees the lead and Thomas the win. How many of us can claim we won our last game in the bigs as a member of an eventual World Series winner?
TOP PINCH HITTER
Jefferson looked destined to become a New York sports hero. Instead he became a REAL New York hero.
He was a native New Yorker who was drafted in the first round by the Mets in 1983.
He shot up through the Mets system and played 14 games for the 1986 World Champs… but then was packaged off to San Diego with another supposed future Mets hero, Shawn Abner, in the Kevin McReynolds deal.
He stole 34 bases in his first year with the Padres and looked like a potential star. But after a bad 1988 he was dealt back to New York… this time with the Yankees. His career never got back on track and he was out of baseball after 1991.
He joined the NYPD and as an on duty officer worked at Ground Zero in the wake of the September 11 attacks. He’s worth a salute 1,000 times what his stats will tell us.
A great high school star from Evansville, Wisconsin, Sperry tore up the Wisconsin minor leagues before making it to the big leagues with the 1936 Philadelphia Phillies. He last played in the bigs with the 1938 Philadelphia Athletics where he played well with a .273 average over 60 games.
A wonderful account of Evansville baseball, including Sperry’s heroics, can be read here.
Royer was a first round pick by the A’s in 1988 but was expendable because… well… there was no room for him on the team. He was dealt to St. Louis in the Willie McGee trade but never caught on with the big club.
However he found new life after his baseball career as a financial adviser to players.
I wonder what he thinks of all the sub par millionaires in the bigs these days. I hope he is giving them good advise.
A strong right handed hitter, Palys played part of four seasons with the Phillies and Reds. He had some pop in his bat too. His power was on display on July 18, 1955.
With Cincinnati playing in Brooklyn, Palys had his best game. He hit a 2 run homer in the third, breaking a scoreless tie. And in the 9th inning, with the Redlegs clinging to a 1 run lead, he homered again giving Cincinnati some breathing room.
The Dodgers would win it all that year, but that day belonged to Palys.
One of many players to only appear in the bigs during World War II when most of the stars were fighting tyranny, Wentzel appeared in a handful of games for the 1945 Boston Braves.
He made his debut on September 23rd in the Polo Grounds as Boston played the Giants. He tripled home two runs and scored a run himself in the Braves 5 run seventh inning. He never got another extra base hit again and by the time the troops came home, his big league career was done.
Before and after his service to our country, Andrews played 70 games over big league seasons. Never a star, he managed to get a few big hits from time to time.
He homered and drove in 2 runs for the Phillies on August 21, 1945.
Yet another player who you can’t help wonder what his career would have been like if he didn’t spend his mid 20s in the war.
A turn of the century pitcher who mainly played for the Cardinals, Yerkes had one year where he showed his worth… kind of. He led the league in losses with 21 in 1902. But you can’t LOSE 21 games without being good enough to be sent out to the mound day in and day out.
He also won 12 games and had a 3.66 ERA over 272 2/3 innings. Besides, that Cardinals team was lousy in 1902. You can’t blame Yerkes. So welcome to the team, Stan!
So there you have it… a team with some Hall of Famers and journeymen.
Players whose careers were cut short because of World War II and others who would never have seen the big leagues WITHOUT World War II.
And a financial adviser and September 11th hero thrown in as well.
Feel proud to be a Stan!
On this roster, you ARE the man!