Hustling, hard-boiled Eddie Stanky debuted in 1943 as the Cubs’ second baseman and scored 92 runs. Traded to Brooklyn, Stanky prompted manager Leo Durocher to make his famous (and imprecisely remembered) “nice guys finish last” remark: “Look at Mel Ott over there [in the Giant’s dugout]. He’s a nice guy, and he finishes second. Now look at The Brat (Stanky). He can’t hit, can’t run, can’t field. He’s no nice guy, but all the little SOB can do is win.” The Dodgers played Jackie Robinson at first base as a rookie to keep Stanky at second base.
Stanky led the NL in runs scored with 128 in 1945, when he drew a then-record 148 walks. He led the NL in walks three times. Swapped to the Braves for 1948, Stanky hit .320 in a year shortened by injuries. The Giants gave up Sid Gordon, Willard Marshall, and two others to get Stanky and double plays partner Alvin Dark for 1950. Stanky hit .300 that year, then contributed 115 runs and a career-high 14 HR to the Giants’ miracle pennant in 1951. He started the ninth-inning rally that culminated in Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning home run.
Sent to the Cardinals that winter, Stanky was named player-manager and eased himself out of the lineup. He lasted until May 1955, as the Cardinals skidded from contention. He managed the White Sox to fourth-place finishes in 1966 and 1967 before being fired midway through 1968. When he later became a college coach, Stanky surprised observers with his patience toward young players, adopting a “no-cut, everyone plays” philosophy. He returned to manage the Rangers in 1977 but quit after one game, disgusted by the attitudes of modern-day players.