Remembering Stanczaks For Polish American Month

Remembering Stanczaks For Polish American Month

By Joe Guzzardi

October is Polish American Heritage Month, originally celebrated by congressional proclamation in August until it moved to October. Polish heritage month commemorates the first Polish settlers who arrived in America in 1608, and also honors Generals Kazimierz Pułaski and Tadeusz Kościuszko, two military leaders who bravely fought in the American Revolution. The change from August to October enabled schools to participate in traditional Polish festivities – singing, dancing and plenty of pierogi eating.

The list of accomplished Polish-Americans is long and impressive. In the baseball world, one of the most prominent is Aloysius Harry Szymanski, aka Al Simmons, the home run bashing outfielder for Connie Mack’s daunting 1920s Philadelphia Athletics, and later the Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators and Detroit Tigers. The slugging Hall of Famer Simmons had a 20-year .334 career batting average.

Remembering Stanczaks For Polish American Month

Simmons, well-known for his foot-in-the-bucket batting style, was involved in one of the World Series’ most unlikely incidents. A .329 hitter in his four World Series appearances, Simmons ignited a memorable and improbable development in the Fall Classic’s history, the seventh inning of the fourth game between the A’s and the Chicago Cubs in 1929. With the Cubs comfortably ahead 8-0, Simmons blasted a leadoff home run. The Athletics batted around and soon trailed by only one run, 8-7. Then, Simmons singled in his second at-bat of the seventh as the A’s completed a historic and unforgettable ten-run inning and went on to win, 10-8. The A’s, with six future Hall of Famers, took the 1929 series crown, 4-1.

Simmons is well known among baseball historians. But few are aware of Chicago’s late 1920s 10-man Stanczak brothers’ team, one of the most unusual semi-pro ball clubs to ever appear on a diamond. Polish immigrant Martin Stanczak was father to 10 sons, and one daughter, who covered nearly a 20-year age span. Martin’s ball playing sons included Joe, a county clerk; Mike, an ordained priest; Bill, a tobacco-chewing spitball pitcher, and high schoolers Martin and Julius. In his book, “The League of Outsider Baseball,” award-winning graphic artist Gary Cieradkowski wrote about how, after dominating the Chicago and Milwaukee sandlot teams, promoter Nick Keller became the guiding light for the Stanczak Brothers team, and led them to greater heights.

Keller’s first move was to, for phonetic purposes, eliminate the “c” from Stanczak. Keller renamed the siblings “The World Brother Champions,” issued challenges to other sibling-only ball clubs, and defied them to prove him wrong when he proclaimed his team as global sibling title-holders. From way out West, the Marlatt Brothers, having crushed the Skiano Brothers in 1925, accepted. Quick to strike while the iron was hot, Keller set up “The Brother Championship Series.” The first two games were played on the Marlatt Brothers’ home turf, Hot Springs, Wyoming. Bill’s wet one befuddled the Marlatts, and the Stanzaks swept the first two games. Back in Chicago for games three and four, the Stanzak brothers polished off the Marlatts to retain their title as undisputed sibling champions.

Wearing their crown proudly, the Stanzak brothers toured the Midwest, and dominated all comers. After winning the 1933 Lake County championship, the brothers received an invitation to travel to Wichita to take on the Deikes of Fredericksburg, Texas. The Texans, however, were not totally above board; the team was only eight-ninths all-siblings. The Deikes installed a ringer at first base – U.S. president-to-be Lyndon Baines Johnson. No matter. The Stanczak boys defended their championship title effortlessly, and breezed past the Deikes; future president Johnson made no difference in the outcome.

None of the brothers played major league baseball. Joe had a brief stint in the minors; Louis and Martin had unsuccessful tryouts with the Cincinnati Reds. Nevertheless, the brothers’ photograph is prominently on display at Cooperstown where the Hall of Fame declared them as the 10 best brothers ever to play baseball.

Joe Guzzardi is a Society for American Baseball Research and Internet Baseball Writers Association member. Contact him at

Remembering Stanczaks For Polish American Month

Remembering Stanczaks For Polish American Month

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