Stan Hack

From BR Bullpen

1935 Diamond Stars

Stanley Camfield Hack
(Smiling Stan)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Smiling Stan Hack was perhaps the best third baseman of his era. He played 16 years, all with the Chicago Cubs, appearing in five All Star Games and four World Series.

Born in 1909, he worked in a bank and played semi-pro ball part-time until he caught on with the Sacramento Solons. He hit .352 at Sacramento in 1931, which drew the attention of Bill Veeck Sr. of the Cubs, who signed him.

He became a regular in 1934, and hit .300 six times after that. He scored over 100 runs in a season seven times. His best year as a hitter was probably 1941, when he hit .317 with 99 walks (.417 OBP) and 33 doubles in a league where the average batting average and on-base percentage were only .258 and .326.

He broke in during the 1932 season, on a team that was being managed by Rogers Hornsby (although Hornsby was to be replaced shortly as manager). The Cubs won the pennant. Hack and second baseman Billy Herman were the same age, 22. Hack and Herman were to play in the same infield for over nine years together. Other teammates on the 1932 Cubs included Gabby Hartnett and Kiki Cuyler. Hartnett, Cuyler, and Herman were also with Hack on the 1935 Cubs team that won the pennant.

In 1938, the Cubs again won the pennant, as Hack had a good year, hitting .320 with 94 walks and 11 triples. Hack was the hitting star of the team, and was seventh in the MVP voting.

Hack temporarily retired in 1943, partly because he didn't like manager Jimmie Wilson. By 1945, Hack was 35 years old, but he had another good season as the Cubs again won the pennant. He hit .323 with 99 walks, and scored 110 runs. In the World Series, he had eleven hits and four walks in seven games.

Nobody stole a lot of bases in those days, when the next batter was fairly likely to hit a single, but in the five-year period from 1936-1940, Hack was first in the league in stolen bases twice, and second the other three years. A good fielder, he several times led the league in putouts, assists, or fielding percentage.

Stan never did all that well in Hall of Fame voting, perhaps because voters were in those days tilted toward high-average hitters, and Stan's .301 wasn't as high as they were expecting from a singles and doubles hitter. In addition, third basemen were not well respected, and few from the 1900-1950 era made it into the Hall. He had 2193 hits, which wasn't close to the magic 3000, and 1239 runs scored, which wasn't close enough to the magic 1500.

On the other hand, when Bill James took a look at Hack, he ranked him ahead of Pie Traynor, who many people had seen as the top third baseman of the 1900-1950 era, mainly because of his .320 batting average. Hack, by the way, is listed by the similarity scores method as one of the ten most similar players to Traynor - and is one of only two players on Traynor's list of ten who is not in the Hall of Fame. Hack's own list of the most similar players includes two Hall of Fame players, Jimmy Collins and George Kell.

After his playing career, Hack managed the Los Angeles Angels from 1951 to 1953, then managed three seasons with the Cubs. His first year, 1954, was the year that the first two black players on the Cubs, Ernie Banks and Gene Baker, became the regular shortstop and second baseman on the team. He was a St. Louis Cardinals coach in 1957 and 1958, managing the team for ten games in 1958 after Fred Hutchinson was fired. He returned to the Cubs as a coach during the 1965 season.

He was chosen as one of the top 20 Cubs players of all time by this site [1].

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 5-time NL All-Star (1938, 1939, 1941, 1943 & 1945)
  • 2-time NL Hits Leader (1940 & 1941)
  • 2-time NL Singles Leader (1941 & 1945)
  • 2-time NL Stolen Bases Leader (1938 & 1939)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 7 (1936-1941 & 1945)

Preceded by
Phil Cavarretta
Chicago Cubs Manager
Succeeded by
Bob Scheffing
Preceded by
Fred Hutchinson
St. Louis Cardinals Manager
Succeeded by
Solly Hemus

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1948 Des Moines Bruins Western League 76-64 1st Chicago Cubs Lost in 1st round
1949 Des Moines Bruins Western League 70-70 4th Chicago Cubs Lost League Finals
1950 Springfield (MA) Cubs International League 74-78 5th Chicago Cubs
1951 Los Angeles Angels Pacific Coast League 86-81 3rd Chicago Cubs Lost in 1st round
1952 Los Angeles Angels Pacific Coast League 87-93 6th Chicago Cubs
1953 Los Angeles Angels Pacific Coast League 93-87 3rd Chicago Cubs
1954 Chicago Cubs National League 64-90 7th Chicago Cubs
1955 Chicago Cubs National League 72-81 6th Chicago Cubs
1956 Chicago Cubs National League 60-94 8th Chicago Cubs
1958 St. Louis Cardinals National League 3-7 5th St. Louis Cardinals replaced Fred Hutchinson (69-75) on September 17
1959 Denver Bears American Association 76-86 8th none
1965 Salt Lake City Bees Pacific Coast League 59-61 10th Chicago Cubs
1966 Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs American Association 15-26 -- Chicago Cubs -- replaced by Pete Reiser on May 29

Further Reading[edit]

  • Eric Hanauer: "Stan Hack", in Bill Nowlin, ed.: Van Lingle Mungo: The Man, The Song, The Players, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014, pp. 130-134. ISBN 978-1-933599-76-2

Related Sites[edit]