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Historic Tiger Baseball #25--Mickey Stanley

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Today's Featured Tiger Player

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--Mickey Stanley--

(1964-1978)

(click on name for statistics)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mickey_Stanley

Mickey Stanley (born July 20, 1942 in Grand Rapids, Michigan) was a baseball player for the Detroit Tigers from 1964-1978. Stanley made his MLB debut in centerfield with Detroit on September 13, 1964, but his 15-year career is best remembered by the last few weeks of the 1968 season.

Stanley was an excellent defensive outfielder and an adequate, but not overwhelming as a hitter. Until 1968, he was used mainly as a defensive replacement, pinch-hitter and even part-time first baseman. He earned a regular spot in the lineup in 1968 with his slick fielding, .259 average and hustle. The fact that future Hall of Famer Al Kaline spent part of the year injured probably didn't hurt Stanley's playing time either.

The Tigers dominated the league with an overpowering pitching staff led by 31-game winner Denny McLain, great offense from the outfield and right side of the infield and an air-tight defense on the left side of the infield best represented by Ray Oyler, perhaps the best defensive shortstop in the league.

However, Oyler's bat was impotent. Manager Mayo Smith worried that for all its strength, Detroit would not be able to compete with the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals without getting his four productive outfield batters into the lineup. The only way to do it was to ask one to replace Oyler in the infield.

So with the American League pennant clinched and two weeks left in the season, Smith asked Stanley to play the last 9 games of the regular season at shortstop. Stanley did an adequate job and became the starting shortstop for the 1968 World Series. Oyler did not bat and appeared in only four games as a defensive replacement-- the four games the Tigers needed to win the series.

While Stanley returned to play 59 games at shortstop the next year and Oyler was allowed to be drafted by the expansion Seattle Pilots, the experiment did not work long-term and Detroit finished the 1969 season 19 games out of first. Stanley's batting average also dropped to .235. It recovered only when he was returned to the outfield for the remainder of his career with occasional appearances in the infield.

Stanley played full-time until the 1974 season, then completed his career as he had started it from 1975-1978 as a utility outfielder, defensive replacement, but this time with an occasional infield appearance as well.

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Could you imagine asking, say, Andruw Jones to play SS during the postseason ?? The magnitude of Stanley's unselfishness and how it factored into the Tigers' WS victory can not be stressed enough !!! This is a great example of doing whatever it takes to put your team over the top .......

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It's neat too how so many of the key players were from Michigan. Horton, Freehan, Northrup, and Stanley. That kind of connection to a team by birth is virtually impossible today. All these guys were signed before there was a draft, and they signed with the home team, their team. Kind of cool, really. It was a different time. Doing everything you could to win makes so much sense within that context.

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It's neat too how so many of the key players were from Michigan. Horton, Freehan, Northrup, and Stanley. That kind of connection to a team by birth is virtually impossible today. All these guys were signed before there was a draft, and they signed with the home team., their team. Kind of cool, really. It was a different time.

That is very cool. Good thing the St Louis Browns didn't move to Baltimore until after Kaline signed with the Tigers, too.:cool:

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It's neat too how so many of the key players were from Michigan. Horton, Freehan, Northrup, and Stanley. That kind of connection to a team by birth is virtually impossible today. All these guys were signed before there was a draft, and they signed with the home team, their team. Kind of cool, really. It was a different time. Doing everything you could to win makes so much sense within that context.

And today, many of a teams players have come not only from outside of the state--but from outside of the states (the USA).

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Kaline broke his hand after he struck out earlier in the year, and that afforded Stanley and Northrup to play full-time, with Horton the anchor in LF. Although the Stanley at SS thing might have been another way to get a bat in the lineup, I always looked at it from a different angle. Mayo Smith had his HOF RF coming off the injured list, yet his OF was playing really well. Stanley was a defensive stalwart in CF, Horton and Northrup were good young players that were hitting HRs in bunches. How do you remove one of them from the line-up, when these guys were the ones who brought you to the dance? Mayo was in a tough situation, and if I remember correctly (I'm almost senile), it was Stanley that suggested the SS thing to him.

On another note, in 68 I kept a scrapbook of both Detroit Newspapers and the Grand Rapids Press sports sections throughout the World Series. I've had a chance to have a few of the 68 players sign the book over the years. It was a kid's fondest treasure and sure brings back the memories.

In that 68 series, there were some great players and some infamous players also: Eddie Matthews, Roger Maris, Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Denny McClain, Mickey Lolich, Lou Brock, Curt Flood. Lou Brock was just a terror on the bases. I believe he stole seven bases during the series, but the havoc that he caused just being on base was unbelievable.

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It's neat too how so many of the key players were from Michigan. Horton, Freehan, Northrup, and Stanley. That kind of connection to a team by birth is virtually impossible today. All these guys were signed before there was a draft, and they signed with the home team, their team. Kind of cool, really. It was a different time. Doing everything you could to win makes so much sense within that context.

A little further back was Prince Hal and the one that got away.... Billy Pierce.

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Thanks, Bert. My little sister had the BIGGEST crush on Mickey Stanley. We used to stand outside the old players' parking lot after games, looking for autographs, and the thing I remember about Mickey Stanley is that he drove an SUV before you saw many of them on the road. I think it was a Jeep.

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