Stan Hack

Genial Stan Hack, with his famous smile, was one of the most popular players of his day. He batted .352 in 1931, his first year in pro ball, and William Veeck personally went to Sacramento to sign him to a Cubs contract. By 1934 Hack was a fixture at third base in Wrigley Field. He exhibited a smooth, easy style, twice leading the NL in fielding and assists, and five times in putouts. At bat, he slashed singles and doubles, rarely swinging for the fences. He topped the 100 mark in runs scored seven times (six consecutive), had league-high stolen base totals in 1938 and 1939, and league-high hit totals in 1940 and 1941.

Hack retired in 1943, in part because he didn’t get along with Cubs manager Jimmy Wilson. When Wilson was fired early in 1944, Charlie Grimm returned and coaxed Hack out of retirement. In 1945 Hack hit a career-high .323 in helping the Cubs to a pennant for a fourth time. When he finished playing in 1947, he had tied the then-record for most years as a NL third baseman (16). He began managing the Cubs in 1954, in three years never finishing higher than sixth. He coached for the Cardinals, and managed in the minors until 1966.

An opposing player once said that Hack “has more friends than Leo Durocher has enemies.” Hack was known to party in his early career, and reportedly was often carried home by drinking partner Pat Malone. Bill Veeck turned Hack’s captivating smile into a promotion; he once walked the Wrigley bleachers selling an item featuring a grinning picture of Hack on the back of a mirror, with the slogan, “Smile with Stan Hack.” The fans began shining the mirrors into opposing batters’ eyes, which prompted the umpires to confiscate the gimmicks and threaten to forfeit the game.