There is a firm base of practical knowledge supporting Stanky's theories. He is convinced that the arm and wrist exercises—one involves twisting a doorknob—he prescribed for his hitters is a prime reason why most of them are batting around .350. "Strong arms mean a quick bat," he says.
But Eddie Stanky, the savant, can still give way to Eddie the Brat when he slips into uniform. He generously concedes that umpires who work college games are not up to major league standards and so refuses, he says, to "debate" with them over trifles. But old habits die hard. In a game against Tulane last year he elected to question a call he considered to be, at best, outrageous. It was obvious to him that a Tulane base runner had interfered with one of his infielders. What followed was scarcely a debate. Arguing the negative, the Brat abused the hapless umpire with time-honored big league expletives, kicked sand and, in a final expression of pique, hurled a ball against the backstop. He was ejected.
But such episodes are increasingly rare, particularly when compared with his major league past. Stanky misses his old pals and the competition, but he doubts that he wants to rejoin them. "Look," he says, "I'm still in baseball, I'm close to my family and I think I'm helping my college, my city, my state and my country. If I can take these kids to a regional tournament, I'll be just as thrilled as I was by my first Series."
He has turned down at least one offer to manage again and at 54 considers himself settled in Mobile. "I suppose nobody, not even my wife, believes that, but they'll have to some day.
"The truth is, I really like all this rah, rah stuff."