One can statistically evaluate with some degree of accuracy the worth of a baseball player to his team. However, sometimes a player stands out because of characteristics that inspire his teammates and draw the admiration and respect of fans. Eddie “The Brat” Stanky was one of those players. Stanky was a gritty, scrappy individual, not gifted with natural talent. He worked long and hard to achieve the success he attained. Just five feet eight and 170 pounds, Stanky seemed so much more imposing as he flew into second base with a feet-first, spikes-raised slide to break up a double play.
He was born Edward Raymond Stankiewicz, on September 3, 1915, to Frank and Anna Stankiewicz.1 The family shortened the name to Stanky when Eddie was a boy. In his childhood years in the blue-collar Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington, Eddie developed the belligerent, enthusiastic, win-at-all-costs attitude that would make him so successful—and reviled—in later life.
Stanky batted just .243 in his senior year at Philadelphia’s Northeast High School, but his drive was exceptional. His single-mindedness and aggressiveness on the field distinguished him from everyone else, even at an early age. “It was baseball that Eddie came to high school for,” said Lester Owen, Stanky’s high school coach. “He said he was going to be a pro baseball player. That was that. No one doubted him. He wasn’t conceited. He was an ordinary boy with extraordinary ambition.”2
Eddie Stanky was Jackie Robinson’s earliest important
That ambition helped get Stanky a contract with his hometown Philadelphia Athletics. In 1935 he was sent to play shortstop for the Greenville (Mississippi) Buckshots of the Class C East Dixie League. After a few weeks, a young, homesick, and discouraged Stanky sent his mother a letter asking for money for train fare home. The response was stern. Eddie was not welcome back at home—quitters weren’t wanted in Anna Stanky’s family. Eddie stayed in Greenville and finished the year with a .301 batting average and eighty runs scored in 104 games.
In 1936 Stanky moved to Portsmouth (Ohio)