"He did the job to the very best
of his ability. You can believe that in his mind he never made a bad call
as an umpire. Jack called 'em as he saw 'em."
Just like Bill Klem. Only in
Stanky's case, he loves all kids too much to hurt any of them. If the
managers and coaches and fans - yes, even those scattered few loud mouth
kids - gave him the "Bronx," Stanky brushed it off, content in his mind
that he had "called it as he saw it."
Stanky recalls his first
assignment as a coach in Sam Bryen's baseball operation. He was with an
"Sam put me with manager Chuck
Barry's Automatic Sales team in
1962," Jack remembers.
"We won it all."
"I'll never forget Jack Flavin, a
righthander who I believe was the best pitcher ever in Brookline,
although I didn't see boys back in the '50s. He was sensational. Threw
five no-hitters, including one in which he struck out 21 of 21 batters.
That was a great start for me. I had been in the South Side program for
two years, finishing second in Little League in 1959 and second with a
PONY team in 1960.
"That '62 Brookline Senior LL team
had a lot of talent. On our squad were players such as Pee Wee Esposito,
Dave Prehler, Jerry Barszyk, Frankie McClendon, Bob Smyczek, Tom Pfeifer,
Rich Schmidt, Wally Gremba, the innovative Flavin, Rich Franconeri, Dave
Hamill, Skip Scheider, Phil Dattisman, Tom Kennedy, Butch Klinzing and
Stanky moved from his beloved
Brookline to live with his kid sister, Suzie, the family baby who is
ailing. That's a typical John Lombardi maneuver. A helping hand wherever
Stanky walked out of Brookline to
live with Suzie in May, 1984, but his heart has never left his kids over
at the Little League complex and Danny McGibbeny Memorial Field. Even
though he now manages a Castle Shannon Little League team at Myrtle
Avenue School Field.
"I'll never forget Danny," Stanky
says. "He took over my Spadafore Roofing team, which included slugger Tom
Baginski, in Senior Little League and won a championship right off the
bat. He always credited me with picking the team from the drafts and
setting up the championship. He was that kind of young guy, always
sharing the glory. He was sorely missed after passing away in
Stanky shifted from one job to
another, filling wherever Sam Bryen wanted him, until 1978, when Ang
Masullo, who replaced Bryen as LL president, assigned him to the American
Legion team in Little League.
Here Stanky found his real home.
He had been moving around the Brookline program from commissioner of the
minor leagues, to umpiring, to any weak area of Sam Bryen's baseball
I had the first true girl star
in Donna Caterino," Stanky enthuses. "She put the boys to
shame. I'll always remember the evening she tossed a no-hitter at Kurt
Vietmeier's St. Mark team."
"After we finally got knocked off
in the Williamsport LL tournament, the big one that leads you to the
World Series, we were entered in the 32-team Robinson Lions tournament at
"Donna pitched for me, we won the tournament and she was named
the most valuable player. It was the first time Brookline had ever won
it, and she was the first girl to be selected MVP of the
"My managing career in Brookline
went back to the Spadafore Roofing team, which won back-to-back Senior LL
titles in 1966 and 1967. I had that team until 1970. Then Danny McGibbeny replaced me in mid-season 1972, the year the team changed sponsorship,
becoming Stebbrook Healthland. He won the championship in 1974 and just
missed winning it the year he died. In fact, he was in the hospital
following the last regular season game, so he didn't get to manage
against the Lions in the playoffs."
You couldn't meet a more friendly
or honest chap than John Lombardi. "Stanky" to his
Article reprinted from The Brookline Journal - May
"Stanky" returned occasionally to
Sam Bryen Fields to umpire games, but never got back into the program
full-time, although his heart remained firmly rooted in Brookline. He
stayed in Castle Shannon with his family until his death in
Jack Lombardi may have been a
small man with a lanky frame, and many of us no-it-all's questioned his
calls on the field, but no one could question his dedication to the
children of Brookline. For a small man, he left a big imprint in the
hearts and minds of those who were fortunate to have worked with him,
played against him, or be called "out" by him.
Jack Lombardi (top
row-center) and his 1979 All-Star team, winner of the Robinson
Township Lions Tournament,
the only Brookline team to win the prestigious 32-team event.