Wednesday, August 29, 2012

#423 - Fred Stanley

Aside from having the nickname Chicken, this guy will always be immortalized for me from the description of his van in Sparky Lyle’s “The Bronx Zoo.” It was a very typical mid-Seventies type of ride with plush carpet installed everywhere – even on the ceiling – and had a bar in it that used to be a coffin. Back then those vans seemed so cool but now, looking back, they must have been pretty nasty with that carpet absorbing just about everything that went down back there. But Fred probably needed a fancy ride: by the time this photo was probably taken he was only 25 and had already been in five organizations at various levels. This is Fred’s second card; he had a rookie solo one in ’72 and then didn’t have one in the following set. ’73 was his first year in NY and the day looks gorgeous at Yankee Stadium. Fred played nearly the whole season that year at Triple A Syracuse where he hit .248 with a .371 OBA and only got 66 at bats up top. The Yankees had Gene Michael and Hal Lanier ahead of Fred at shortstop so he didn’t see too much action, but he did make one of those at bats count. He hit the last grand slam at the Stadium before the remodel that closed it for a couple years. Fred wasn’t exactly a slugger, but he was pretty good at doing anything he could to stick around and he’s still in baseball almost 40 years later.

Fred Stanley was born in Idaho and relocated to California when he was a teenager, graduating from Monte Vista High School in ’66. That year the Astros drafted him and he got things going in A ball that summer, hitting .245 for a couple teams. He then missed all of ’67 and a bit of ’68 to the military and only hit .196 in Double A the balance of the latter season. But in ’69 he hit .272 in Double A and .309 in Triple A which got the new Seattle Pilots pretty excited enough to buy him that September and stick him up top. Fred went 3 for 3 in his first game and did some nice work in the field the rest of the way. The next season the team moved to Milwaukee but Fred went to Portland where he hit .268 with a .359 OBA in Triple A. He also got into a couple games up top and scored a run but did nothing else offensively and the following spring got sold to Cleveland. For the Indians Fred got by far his most action through this card up top and put up a .361 OBA while there, but he again spent most of his time in Triple A where he hit .246 with a .386 OBA. The guy did know how to get on base. He then spent all of ’72 in the majors, getting a few at bats with Cleveland before a June trade for pitcher Mike Kilkenny to the Padres for whom he did reserve work the rest of the year. After that season he came to NY for a minor leaguer.

In ’74 the Yankees picked up Jim Mason from Texas and Stanley again spent most of the season in Syracuse where he hit .258 with a .356 OBA. After that year it was all major leagues and in both ’75 and ’76 he would get the most starting time for the Yankees at shortstop. That second year Fred got his first post-season experience and made it count by hitting .333 against the Royals in the AL playoffs. He halved that average in the Series but outside of Thurman Munson, no Yankee hit particularly well against the Reds. In ’77 George Steinbrenner figured the best way to avoid another Series sweep was to have an All-Star at every position so he got Bucky Dent from the White Sox and that season Fred got as much work in the field as he did catching in the bullpen. Then in ’78 NY was beset by injuries, especially up the middle and Fred nearly quadrupled his at bats and even started a few post-season games. In ’79 and ’80 he was able to get some playing time by putting in some games at third as well as short. Then in ’81 he was reunited with Billy Martin – always a fan of plucky infielders – when he was traded for Mike Morgan. For the A’s Fred continued his reserve work and in ’81 posted the AL’s best fielding percentage for a shortstop. But in ’81 and ’82 he only hit .193 and after going unsigned following the second season he retired. Fred finished with a .216 average and hit .225 in 22 post-season games. He is currently ranked 66th in fielding percentage all time for shortstops.

The guys in Oakland were fans of Stanley and so they kept him around as their Director of Instruction (“DI”) from ’83 to ’85. He then moved to Houston as Director of Baseball Operations (“DBO”) from ’86 to ’88. Then it was back to Seattle as their Director of Minor League Instruction (“DMLI”) from ’89 to ’90. Then to complete the career arc from when he played he became a Brewers coach in ’91. From ’92 to ’96 he was Milwaukee’s Director of Player Development (“DPD”) and then their assistant GM (’97 to ’99). He then moved to the Giants organization where he managed in the minors (2000-’04; he was his league’s manager of the year twice and went 245-270); was their DMLI (’05-’08); and in ’08 was named their DPD (those initials came in handy).  He is still at that last gig as of this writing.

Fred was definitely a defensive specialist and gets a schoolboy star bullet also. He ended up doing a pretty substantial military hitch as he was a reserve for six years.

Let’s use a hook-up of someone Billy Martin liked through someone he couldn’t stand:

1. Stanley and Larry Gura ’74 to ’75 Yankees;
2. Gura and Gonzalo Marquez ’73 Cubs.

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