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BETTER FROM THE NECK UP
Eddie Stanky
August 28, 1967
Never known for a reluctance to voice an opinion, Manager Eddie Stanky of the Chicago White Sox uses these pages to get off a few withering blasts at some favorite targets while warmly complimenting his own hustling ball club
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August 28, 1967

Better From The Neck Up

Never known for a reluctance to voice an opinion, Manager Eddie Stanky of the Chicago White Sox uses these pages to get off a few withering blasts at some favorite targets while warmly complimenting his own hustling ball club

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The Red Sox know how to play at home, where they have 17 games in September. They know how to hit that short wall in left field. It looks like Jim Lonborg is a stopper, and Lee Stange has been pitching well for them lately. The Red Sox are a contending team this year because for five years everybody knew that they had the best young players down on the farms, and it was about time a couple of them grew up.

On August 31 we start a four-game series against the Red Sox in Boston, and because of what happened when we last played in Fenway in the middle of June I am more than just a little worried about it. That series in June was filled with various forms of dramatics, including an umpire who called a home run foul against us without leaving the dirt part of the infield at second base. I argued, and when I got back to the dugout there were about 20 to 25 kids peppering me with beer cans from the top of the dugout. I would estimate their ages at from 10 to 15. I was only lucky I didn't get hit. Now, I might be able to understand that type of stuff coming from some frustrated bartender, but the kids are supposed to be the meat of our country. Kids doing this to a major league manager at those ages? The park wasn't policed sufficiently. The next morning I called my wonderful wife, Dickie, in Chicago and told her that if anything happened to me to sue Tom Yawkey, the owner of the Red Sox, and Marvin Miller, the adviser for the players, who is supposed to protect them and does little but give speeches. Mr. Yawkey must have a deeper feeling for his ducks, turkeys and wild pheasants on his farm in South Carolina than he does for his players, because he's got to spend more money protecting them than the people who perform in Fenway Park.

After I had been so rude as to complain about this lack of protection and possible loss of life and limb, a captain of the Boston police force showed up after the game the next night and said he would escort me from my clubhouse to the team bus. I was so exasperated all I could do was look at him and say, "Captain, I'm in civilian clothes now."

This thing with the kids seems to be getting more and more widespread, and something forceful must be done about it. Before a game recently in Baltimore I was walking no more than 25 feet from my dugout when these two kids in the fourth row hollered, " Eddie Stanky, you stink!" I froze in my tracks and then I walked over to them. I asked one of them to tell me how old he was, and he said, "Fourteen." I asked him if he realized what he had said, and his answer was, "Yeah." I told him that I had an 11-year-old son who, if he had heard him saying those things, would beat his head in. The kid dropped his head in shame. But these things disgust me mostly because it is a reflection on the parents.

One of my greatest faults may be that I put baseball on too high a pedestal. But that's the way I am and I'm not going to change at the age of 48. My shining hour will not come when my players win the pennant but when one, or both, of my two fine sons plays in the major leagues. I feel so strongly about baseball on the major league level that every time a major league club plays a minor league club I think it should win by 20-0 because it is a major league club. Of the millions of kids who play the game, only 500 can make it to the major leagues at one time—500! But to dedicated baseball people, to those who give their life's blood to it—and there are plenty of them—certain things come up that bring shame to it at times and others come up that are funny and bewildering.

People say that I talk too much about the "new breed" of ballplayer, but the "new breed" ballplayer is here to stay. He is intelligent enough to be planning an estate for his family, and he's much better off than players were when I was playing. I kid my players about the new breed, and the Gary Peters and the Tommy Johns and even the Ken Boyers kid me back and call me the "new breed" manager.

A couple of weeks ago in Minnesota there was an example of how the new breed speaks. Boyer pulled a muscle in his leg going after a ground ball. The following morning he could barely get out of bed, and he had trouble putting his trousers on. He got to the park early so our trainer could work on it. Peters walked into the training room and asked Kenny how he felt. "It hurts, Gary," Boyer said. "That's what happens when you get old," said Peters. "That's right, Gary," said Boyer, "that's what happens when you get old." That conversation would never have transpired years ago without somebody getting very mad. You wouldn't dare tell a player he was getting old. But things like that don't worry Gary Peters and Ken Boyer. They're new-breeders, even though Peters is 30 and Boyer 36. I admire them.

But there are other elements of the new breed that I plainly do not understand. There's this thing about the uniforms. It has me baffled. Some of them wear their pants so tight they can barely move in them, and although there is a league rule which states that the stocking stirrups cannot be cut over six inches high, the rule is violated left and right. These tight uniforms and the high stocking stirrups are supposed to be sex symbols. But when one of the symbols has to slide into second base and the pants rip, the game must be stopped so the new-breeder can run off the field and have the trainer put adhesive tape over the rip in the knee. Now, to a 48-year-old man like me, it seems that more of a sex symbol would be to have the knee exposed so that all the girls could see it, but that isn't so. I guess I'm really not the new-breed manager that some say I am.

Some of my players may get mad at me because of some of my rules, but I don't want to hear about it. I insist on certain things being done, because of that pedestal. I've told some of them that they pay more for their alpaca sweaters than I do for suits, and I'm glad that they can afford them. But they better not try to get on the airplane or go into the hotel dining room with one of those pretty sweaters on, not as long as they play for me. There are only 500 major-leaguers, remember, and they can wear a coat and tie.

I guess it is part of the era we live in, but today too many people have the attitude of "let's get away with as much as we can." The trouble with a baseball player who tries to do that is that he gets himself caught too easily. Normally this guy kills himself by the fourth day of spring training, and a manager doesn't have to be too sharp to get him. Of course, when you confront him, then you are not the type of manager who can handle sensitive players—you're mean, you're Bratman! I can't go for guys who try to play games with me. It's the major leagues. The guy who tries to play games with the manager is invariably the one who isn't concentrating, the one who blows a sign when it is imperative that he get it. This fellow turns out to be a cancer to the team, and it's best to get rid of him as soon as you see the telltale early indications.

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