The doubts in the press were nothing compared with the doubts inside Stanley; he was not a phlegmatic sort. The night before Game 1 in St. Louis, he borrowed a sleeping pill from his wife, Ellen; in the morning he popped a tranquilizer; then, before the game, he vomited. "I suppose." he told sportswriter Red Smith, "the first damn ball will be hit to me."
It was. He picked Lou Brock's grounder and threw him out. Later he handled double plays, tagged base stealers and handled 31 chances, finishing the Series with only two errors, both questionable, on balls hit deep in the hole. In the sixth inning of the second game he started a difficult double play that got Lolich out of trouble and helped preserve the Tigers' first win. He batted .214, less than his season's .259 but considerably more than Oyler's .135. In the seven games he scored four runs from two walks and six hits, one a triple. More important, Kaline hit .379 with eight RBIs.
It was because of that that the Tigers won, Cash crowed. "I think the whole damn World Series was Mickey Stanley playing shortstop!" he said.
Stanley stayed with the Tigers, his only club, until 1978. Now he makes a nice living as a manufacturer's representative to the automotive industry. "The day I got my release, I was out pounding an doors," he says. "Back in those days we didn't get much money. But it has worked out real well."
I arrived at Stanley's large house in South Lyon (minutes from Ann Arbor, an hour from Detroit) to interview him one morning at 7 a.m. He seemed as full of nervous energy as he was when he was 26. But 20 years after the fact, Stanley could not remember his double plays, his tags, his throws. I asked, "Can you remember the errors?"
He laughed and said, "I remember them vividly. Both of them were balls hit in the hole. During Game 2 in St. Louis, Julian Javier hit one way back in the grass. I dove, got the ball, rolled over—I was in short leftfield by this time—and then I couldn't find the ball. Javier got to second base." Red Smith had expressed his opinion of the scoring: "The resident friends who are moonlighting as official scorers charged Stanley with an error on the best play of the Series thus far."
In the late innings of the Tiger victories, Oyler returned to shortstop, Stanley to center and Northrup to left, while Horton sat down—which improved defense at three positions. But by the end of the Series, no one was worrying about Mickey Stanley at shortstop.
So why not make it a full-time job? The next winter, the Tiger management left Oyler unprotected in the expansion draft, and the Seattle Pilots took him. Stanley found himself penciled in as regular shortstop for the Tigers in 1969. Although he enjoyed centerfield, "I was really looking forward to that, to start a new career playing shortstop." There was another reason: "I thought I could make more money. A .250 hitter playing shortstop is more valuable than a .250 hitter playing centerfield."
But fate intervened. "I went to spring training," Stanley recalls. "Being young and not too intelligent, I...well, the first ground ball of spring training was hit to me in the hole. Instead of fielding the ball clean, getting planted and throwing the ball gently to first, I had to make a foolish low off-balance throw.
"I hurt my arm. My arm was never the same. I didn't play a game all spring training, and when I was Opening Day shortstop, I couldn't throw. I spent the rest of my career with a sore arm, with a bad arm. I don't know how I lasted 15 years. When I moved back to the outfield.... Nobody had ever run on me before. Now, sometimes, people took chances. That was embarrassing."