Stanky was an intense, obsessed man. He was the 60's managerial version of Billy Martin or Earl Weaver. Stanky knew baseball and was a genius at tactical decisions but he was also extremely unpopular with many of his players. He imposed a curfew, dress code and a rigorous calisthenics program on the team. He would fine players (or bench them) every time they weren’t able to lay down a bunt, hit a sacrifice fly or advance runners into scoring position. He offered a new suit of clothes for any pitcher who threw a complete game with at least a certain number of ground ball outs. For stolen bases or advancing on a ground ball the player would get a new pair of dress shoes.
He’d have winning seasons in 1966 and 1967 nearly taking the pennant but by early 1968 his act had grown old and he was fired…replaced with…Al Lopez!
The players who played for Stanky had different memories of him when I spoke to them over the years.
Ken Berry - Outfielder: “Eddie had a rule that you tag on every fly ball, at least make a bluff. He wanted to get the opposition to throw the ball around. He’d teach us things like how to try to knock the glove off the opponent when they were going to tag you. There’s a way to do it without being blatant about it and getting the umpire to call you out automatically.”
Joe Horlen - Pitcher: “I learned more about baseball from Eddie then any other manager I ever played for. He was tough, some guys just didn’t get along with him. I just tried to stay away from him as much as I could! (laughing) Eddie would walk up and down the dugout during a game and he’d often stop by a guy and ask him ‘what’s the count?’ If you didn’t know it you’d be fined twenty five dollars. What I’d do is sit on the very top step of the dugout. If Eddie was going to walk in front of me, he’d have to go on the field to do it. (laughing) ButEddie also had a good side. He often sent me a Christmas card and shortly before he died he sent me a series of pictures from my no-hitter game. I was pitching to Norm Cash and Eddie enclosed a note saying that he just found these and thought that I’d like to have them.”
"As long as you pitched a complete game and got 21 ground balls he’d buy you a three hundred dollar suit. For that time that was a lot of money. I guess he got me five suits, Gary (Peters) got two and Tommy (John) got one.
Eddie also had a deal with the hitters, especially the guys who could run like Don Buford, Tommy McCrawand Tommy Agee. What Eddie would do is that if there was a guy on second base with less than two outs, if they could get to third base, like on a ground ball to the other side, he’d buy the runner a new pair of shoes. Man some of those guys had some stylish shoes!”
Pete Ward - Infielder: "Eddie knew baseball, if anything he tended to over- manage. Eddie also spoke his mind which sometimes got the players on the other team pretty angry. When Eddie did something like that it pumped the other team up and they tried even harder to beat us. When Eddie was fired I felt as bad as anybody. I liked Eddie and I always thought that when a manager got fired it was kind of a shot at the players, if they were doing their jobs he wouldn’t have been let go."
December 14, 1994 - The Sox traded former Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell to the Yankees for two minor league players. McDowell was the winningest pitcher in the American League between 1990 and 1994. The move which left the Sox pitching staff without its leader, proved very costly during the 1996 wild card collapse and was done purely for financial reasons related to the labor situation that cost the team the last two months of the 1994 season.
Jack told me about the situation and how the years preceding it were a big factor.
"Fans don’t know this, but not only was I never offered a multi year contract, I was never even offered a one year deal! The Sox just automatically took me right to arbitration three years in a row. They just didn’t negotiate with me. Did that piss me off? Yes. Should I have said some of the things that I did to the media? Probably not. I didn’t play the game as far as the team image was concerned, but I was just telling the truth about what was going on. I regretted it. I loved Chicago and we had one of the best teams going. "
"One time I was talking with Jerry Reinsdorf and he told me the reason the Sox wouldn’t go out and sign any big name, big money free agents is because they were concerned about how I’d react to it. We had those contract issues all those years and they thought I’d get angry over it. I looked at him and said it wouldn’t bother me, especially if I was looking at my World Series ring! All I ever wanted to do was win, I didn’t care how much somebody else made."