July 20, 1942 |
Grand Rapids, Michigan
|September 13, 1964, for the Detroit Tigers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 28, 1978, for the Detroit Tigers|
|Runs batted in||500|
|Career highlights and awards|
Mitchell Jack "Mickey" Stanley (born July 20, 1942 in Grand Rapids, Michigan) was an American professional baseball player. He played his entire career in Major League Baseball for the Detroit Tigers from 1964-1978. Stanley was known as a superb defensive outfielder over his 15-year career, though he is best remembered for the last few weeks of the 1968 season.
Detroit Tigers career
Stanley made his Major League Baseball debut in center field with Detroit on September 13, 1964. He was an excellent defensive player, winning Gold Glove Awards in 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1973. For nine consecutive seasons, from 1966–1974, Stanley played the majority of the Tigers' games in center field. He had speed, a strong arm, good hands, and an ability to take the perfect first step to get a jump for loose seams headed to the gaps. In both 1968 and 1970, Stanley led all American League outfielders with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. His 1973 Range factor of 2.74 was well above the league average of 2.02.
Stanley was an adequate but not overwhelming hitter. In 1970, the speedy Stanley was second in the American League with 11 triples. Until 1968, he was used mainly as a defensive replacement, pinch-hitter and even part-time first baseman.
He earned a regular spot in the lineup in 1968 with his slick fielding, .259 average and hustle. The fact that outfielder Al Kaline spent part of the year injured also boosted Stanley's playing time.
With the American League pennant clinched and two weeks left in the '68 season, manager Mayo Smith asked Stanley to play the last nine games of the regular season at shortstop, the first time he had ever played the position. This was in preparation for the World Series, in which Smith planned to replace weak-hitting regular shortstop Ray Oyler (who was hitting a paltry .135 at the time) in favor of Stanley's superior bat. This would also allow the other 3 power hitting Tiger outfielders (Willie Horton, Jim Northrup, and Al Kaline) to all be in the lineup for the World Series. Stanley did a decent job, committing two errors in 34 chances, and became the starting shortstop for the entire 1968 World Series. Oyler did not have an official at-bat in the Series and appeared in only four games as a defensive replacement—the four games the Tigers needed to win the series. Stanley made two errors in the seven-game series, neither of which led to a run. He did not have a stellar series at the plate, hitting .214, but he did triple and score two runs in a pivotal Game 5 comeback win for the Tigers. And his move allowed Horton, Northrup, and Kaline to all play full-time; Horton batted .304 with 1 HR and 3 RBI, Northrup batted .250 with 2 HR and 8 RBI, and Kaline batted .379 with 2 HR and 8 RBI.
Stanley returned to play 59 games at shortstop the next year, after Oyler was allowed to be drafted by the expansion Seattle Pilots. However, the Stanley-at-short experiment did not work long-term. While he played reasonably well defensively (7 errors in 252 chances), Mickey's batting average dropped to .235. It recovered when he was returned primarily to the outfield for the remainder of his career. Detroit finished the 1969 season 19 games out of first.
With the veteran Al Kaline injured and the arrival of the newly created Designated Hitter rule in 1973 (a spot primarily filled by aging slugger Frank Howard and pinch hitter Gates Brown that year), Stanley reached career highs in games (157, all in the outfield), at-bats (602) and home runs (17). He also played full-time in the outfield for the 1974 season, before getting injured and then giving way to budding star Ron LeFlore. He completed his career in 1975-1978 as it had started—as a utility outfielder and late-inning defensive replacement, but this time he made occasional infield appearances, too. During these last four seasons, he played at least a few games at every position on the field except pitcher and catcher.
After retiring from baseball, Stanley signed with the Detroit Auto Kings, a professional softball team and played a part-time role in their only season (1980). Detroit won the Eastern Division of the North American Softball League and advanced to the league finals, where they lost to the Milwaukee Schlitz.
Stanley now resides in Brighton, Michigan.
- 1968 Detroit Tigers season
- List of Major League Baseball players who spent their entire career with one franchise
- Baseball Reference
- BR Bullpen
- Mickey Stanley: He Was the Complete Pro, by Jerry Green, Baseball Digest, March 1979