August 13th, 2011

August 13 – Happy Birthday Fred Stanley

Bucky Dent’s historic home run against the Red Sox that just cleared the Green Monster in Fenway to give the Yankees the lead in the 1978 AL East Divison playoff was not the only dramatic blast hit by a Yankee shortstop in Beantown that season. Slightly over three months earlier, the two teams had met under much different circumstances. It was late June, and instead of being tied for first place, Boston then had a commanding seven game lead over the third place Bombers as the two teams squared off for a Tuesday evening game at Fenway. Billy Martin had not yet lost his job to Bob Lemon and the paranoid Yankee Manager was struggling to keep his drinking, his hatred of Reggie Jackson and his fear of being fired by George Steinbrenner all in check. The Yankees had already been pummeled by Boston the night before, losing the series opener 10-4. Dent had been injured in that game so Martin was starting Fred “The Chicken” Stanley at short in this second of what was a three-game series. Boston had Mike Torrez, the same right-hander Bucky Dent would victimize about 14 weeks later, on the mound.

Martin started Don Gullett. It was just the sixth start of the southpaw’s 1978 season. He had spent the first two months of that year on the DL.  Just two weeks later, as Gullett was warming up for another start, he would feel something catch in his left shoulder. Afterwards, when trying to shave in the clubhouse, he would not have enough strength in that pitching arm to lift a razor to his face and would never again throw a baseball in a Major League game.

On that evening in Boston, Gullett did not have his best stuff at the start of the game. In the second inning, the second half of the Red Sox lineup had rallied to score four runs off of him, with three of them coming on a home run by Boston’s ninth-place hitter, Butch Hobson. It looked like another crushing blowout in the making for Martin’s team.

But in the top of the fourth, the Yankee bats came to life and five of the first six hitters reached base safely against Torrez and produced three runs. With Yankees on second and third, Boston Manager, Don Zimmer ordered Torrez to intentionally walk Jim Spencer. That brought up Stanley with the bases loaded and his team trailing by a single digit. He pulled the third pitch of his at bat over the Monster in fair territory for a grand slam. Though they called him “the Chicken,” teammates said he had his chest puffed out like a rooster when he walked back to the dugout after that bases loaded dinger.

Now with a three-run lead, Gullett settled down and pretty much dominated the Boston lineup the rest of the way. Later in the game, Reggie Jackson would add a three-run blast and the Yankees revenged their 10-4 defeat of the night before with a 10-4 victory of their own.

Yankee fans should always remember that even though Dent’s Fenway home run over the Monster off Torrez got a lot more attention, it never would have happened if Stanley had not hit his over that same wall off of that same pitcher, first.

Today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant was born in Farnhamville, IA on August 13,  1947. He had to be a superb defensive infielder because he lasted for eight seasons in Pinstripes even though he hit just .223 during his Yankee career. Besides that home run in Fenway, the one other exception to his offensive ineptitude came at another  opportune time for New York. Stanley hit .333 for the Yankees during their 1976 ALC series against Kansas City. He now works in the San Franciso Giant front office.

Stanley shares his August 13th birthday with this former Yankee starting pitcher,  this current Yankee reliever and this former Yankee outfield prospect.

Year Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1973 NYY AL 26 75 66 6 14 0 1 1 5 0 7 16 .212 .288 .288 .576
1974 NYY AL 33 42 38 2 7 0 0 0 3 1 3 2 .184 .244 .184 .428
1975 NYY AL 117 284 252 34 56 5 1 0 15 3 21 27 .222 .283 .250 .533
1976 NYY AL 110 306 260 32 62 2 2 1 20 1 34 29 .238 .329 .273 .602
1977 NYY AL 48 56 46 6 12 0 0 1 7 1 8 6 .261 .370 .326 .696
1978 NYY AL 81 189 160 14 35 7 0 1 9 0 25 31 .219 .324 .281 .606
1979 NYY AL 57 110 100 9 20 1 0 2 14 0 5 17 .200 .236 .270 .506
1980 NYY AL 49 95 86 13 18 3 0 0 5 0 5 5 .209 .266 .244 .510
14 Yrs 816 1906 1650 197 356 38 5 10 120 11 196 243 .216 .301 .263 .564
NYY (8 yrs) 521 1157 1008 116 224 18 4 6 78 6 108 133 .222 .299 .266 .565
OAK (2 yrs) 167 427 373 48 72 11 0 2 24 2 44 55 .193 .280 .239 .519
CLE (2 yrs) 66 175 141 15 31 5 0 2 12 1 29 28 .220 .355 .298 .653
MIL (2 yrs) 23 48 43 3 12 2 1 0 4 1 3 8 .279 .319 .372 .691
SDP (1 yr) 39 99 85 15 17 2 0 0 2 1 12 19 .200 .306 .224 .530
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/14/2013.