Stan Lopata

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Stanley Edward Lopata

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Biographical Information[edit]

Stan Lopata was a catcher for 15 years (1946-1960) - 13 in the majors (1948-1960) and five in the minors (1946-1948, 1951 and 1960). He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, saw combat and was a decorated war hero (CR). Before the 1946 season, he was signed by scout Eddie Krajnik of the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent and broke into organized baseball at age 20 with the Terre Haute Phillies in the Three-I League, moving up to Utica in the Eastern League in 1947.

He married Betty Kulczyk on October 25, 1947 and played for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the International League in 1948 when, at 23 years of age, he broke into the big leagues on September 19th with Philadelphia. He played for the Phillies from 1948 to 1958 with a brief stop with the Baltimore Orioles of the IL in 1951. On March 31, 1959, he was traded by the Phillies with Ted Kazanski and Johnny O'Brien to the Milwaukee Braves for Gene Conley, Joe Koppe and Harry Hanebrink. On October 26th of that year, he was released by Milwaukee but re-signed as a free agent on February 9, 1960, and played his final major league game on June 12th at age 36. He was once again released by Milwaukee on October 14th, having played most of the season with the Louisville Colonels in the American Association. He ended his baseball career at age 37.

He played two games in the 1950 World Series and was hitless in his one plate appearance. Selected as a reserve catcher for the 1955 and 1956 All Star Games, he only played in the first of these two.

Highlights from Lopata's Career[edit]

He was the first National League catcher to wear glasses, but didn't see much action behind Andy Seminick and Smoky Burgess until he assumed a deep crouch at the plate at the urging of Rogers Hornsby. He then batted in a very pronounced crouch and seemed to come out of it as the pitch approached home plate. It was as if he attacked the ball as it was delivered, giving him a lot more power.

In 1947, his best year in the minors, he had 123 hits, 68 runs, 20 doubles, 13 triples, 9 home runs, 88 RBI and a batting average of .325 in 115 games.

In Game 4 of the 1950 World Series at Yankee Stadium, Phillie starter Bob Miller was matched against rookie Whitey Ford, making his first World Series appearance, as the Yankees tried to wrap up the series in four straight. New York scored two runs in the 1st inning, and with the help of Yogi Berra's homer, three more in the 6th to take a commanding 5-0 lead. Still with a 5-0 shutout going in the 9th, Ford ran into trouble, although not entirely of his own making. After the first two Phils reached base, Whitey got the next two out. However, Andy Seminick's fly ball to left, which should have ended the series, was dropped by Gene Woodling, and two runs scored. Next up, Mike Goliat kept the inning going with a hit, and Casey Stengel then removed Ford and brought in Allie Reynolds. The "Big Chief" struck out pinch-hitter Lopata, giving the Yanks a 5-2 win and the World Series victory.

He hit .290 with 14 home runs in 1954 and belted 22, 32, and 18 home runs the next three seasons before a dwindling batting average put him back on the bench. (JK)

In the first game of a Memorial Day doubleheader in 1955, Lopata hit a shot that bounced off Eddie Grant's monument, memorializing the first major league ballplayer killed in action. Willie Mays' quick retrieval and throw back in held Lopata to a triple in a game the New York Giants won, 6-5.

In 1956, Lopata had his best season as he hit 32 home runs, finished second in the National League in doubles and was in the top ten in other statistical categories including slugging percentage, runs batted in, OPS and homers. He set a home run record for Phils catchers with his 32 that year. Lopata hit 27.6% of his career home runs in 1956. Only four players with more than 100 Home Runs had had a larger percentage: Bob Cerv, Tilly Walker, Lefty O'Doul and Willard Marshall. In 1956, his best year in the major leagues, he had 143 hits, 96 runs, 33 doubles, 7 triples, 32 home runs, 95 RBI and 5 stolen bases at .267/.353/.535 in 146 games.

The 1975 Boston Red Sox had the most cumulative lifetime home runs with 3,501. Second, however, are the 1959 Milwaukee Braves with 3,488 where Lopata teamed with Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Joe Adcock, Andy Pafko, Del Crandall, Mickey Vernon, Enos Slaughter, Ray Boone and Wes Covington among others.

Overall in the major leagues, he had 661 hits, 375 runs, 116 doubles, 25 triples, 116 home runs, 397 RBI and 18 stolen bases at .254/.351/.452 in 853 games. Overall in the minors, he had 46 home runs and 234 RBI.

In 1986, Lopata was the first Chairman of the Endowment Committee of the National Association for Corrosion Education (NACE). He was named to the National Polish-American Hall of Fame in 1997. He had brown hair and brown eyes, his ancestry was Polish and his principal hobbies were golf and fishing. He celebrated his 80th birthday in September 2005.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time NL All-Star (1955 & 1956)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1955 & 1956)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1956)


Principal sources for Stan Lopata include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs {{{WW}}} (WW), old Baseball Registers {{{BR}}} (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN {{{DAG}}} (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) {{{MORE}}} and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.

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