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The rarest bird in the bushes
Ivan Maisel
August 26, 1985
Indomitable Stan Wasiak is now the winningest minor league manager ever
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August 26, 1985

The Rarest Bird In The Bushes

Indomitable Stan Wasiak is now the winningest minor league manager ever

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He rejoined the Dodgers for the third and final time in 1970, winning A and AA pennants in two of his first three seasons back. In 1973, he moved to Albuquerque of the Triple A Pacific Coast League. It wasn't the majors, but you could almost see them from there. After all, the Dukes traveled in buses with wings called planes. The best part was being able to call a Royster into his office to say, "You're going up."

Wasiak still held out hope he would get one of those calls himself. But after two years of sub-.500 finishes, Wasiak got bad news on the phone. Farm director Bill Schweppe called to say he was moving him to Class A Lodi in the California League. Schweppe now says, "He was dealing with older ballplayers [at Albuquerque], especially some ex-major-leaguers, who would be inclined to take advantage of Stanley's personality and nature. There was a realization that his greater value was in the role he now has." The very quality that had made Wasiak so valuable worked against him. "They said I was good with kids," Wasiak says with a wan smile. "I got four kids at home. But you can't buck city hall."

So it was back to the buses. Wasiak hadn't gotten used to planes, anyway. "You have to get to the airport so early," he says. He spent three years in Lodi, then went to Vero in 1980. Stan and Barb live on the Dodgertown grounds in what is known as the "honeymoon cottage," a gussied-up trailer that sits a Texas leaguer away from Holman Stadium.

Wasiak missed two months in 1981 after undergoing triple bypass surgery. Then hepatitis, contracted from the blood transfusion done during the bypass, waylaid him in 1982, though he did manage (and win) the final home game of the year to keep his consecutive-season streak alive.

This year erratic hitting has kept Vero Beach hovering around .500, but Wasiak still loves the game so much that the Dodgers will surely have to ask him to leave again. "People have been asking me, 'How come you stayed in so long?' " Wasiak says. "It's a job. It pays well. I used to work in the shipyards near Mobile in the off-season. Regardless of how hard you worked or how good you were, you were just a number. Here you have a feeling of importance."

Last Saturday, at Stan Wasiak King of the Minors Night in Vero Beach, the Dodgers announced they were sending Stan and Barb on a free trip to Cooperstown. It would be only fitting if they went by bus.

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