Jimmy Stanley was your classic “good field, no hit” infielder who enjoyed a year in the Federal League, spot starting and backing up at second, short, third, and even the outfield.
Born Stanislaus (Stanley) Francis Ciolek, December 1, 1887, in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, he was the son of Wojciech (Albert) and Mary (Walega) Ciolek.1 The father, a Polish-born laborer in the steel mills, moved to Chicago’s south side about 1890, where he raised a numerous family.2 The father died in Chicago in 1915, age 51. The mother died in 1934.
The father and several of the sons worked for the nearby Inland Steel Company’s mills. It appears that by 1907 young Stanley was playing third base and outfield for the Inland Steel baseball team, under the name James F. Stanley.3
He played second base for the “South Chicago Works” Steel mill team in 1909,4 and evidently made many friends there. The ChiFeds even declared June 23, 1914 as “Jimmy Stanley day at the north side.” “Several hundred of Jimmy’s friends from South Chicago came over armed with horns and banners, and they wouldn’t be satisfied with listening to Jimmy coach. So ChiFed manager Joe Tinker stayed out of the fray and allowed Jimmy to perform in his place at short.”5
Stanley played well enough in the semi-pro leagues to catch the eye of Jack McCarthy, a one-time player for the Chicago Cubs who’d been hired to manage Danville’s Speakers in the class D Three-I League. McCarthy brought Stanley in to play short but soon switched him to second. Although praised for his fielding, “the little fellow” (as the local newspaper dubbed him) was soon supplanted by Bob Fisher, the team shortstop, with Ray Blauser taking over at short. Stanley was released in May,6 having played only six games. In 21 at bats, he managed only 2 hits, a .095 average.7 He returned to his job as a crane operator for the steel mill. Later that year he played second for the Indiana Harbor Railroad semi-pro team.8 In 1911 he played third base for the Seward Statesmen of the Nebraska League, batting .244 in 60 games. The next year he returned to Chicago, playing third, right field, and shortstop for the semi-pro Chicago Green Sox, batting .252 in 33 games.9 In 1913 he played the infield (generally second base) for the Chicago Keeleys of the semi-pro Federal League, batting .256 through the end of August.10 An injury (a broken bone in his ankle) curtailed his “star” season.11 In 1914 the Chicago Club of the now “major League” Federals (variously nicknamed the Tinks, the ChiFeds, or the Whales by local newspapers) signed him as a backup shortstop. The 5-6, 148-pound Stanley, nicknamed “Honus” after his facial resemblance to Hall of Famer Honus Wagner,12 batted .194 in limited duty. In 54 games, mostly as a pinch hitter or fill in (only 23 starts), he had 98 at bats, with 19 hits, no homers, 4 RBIs and 13 runs scored. Playing mostly shortstop, his .847 fielding average (15 errors in 123 chances) was poor even by dead ball era standards.
Manager Joe Tinker apparently wasn’t too impressed with Stanley’s play, a “neat little infielder” on a team that needed hitting more than fielding.13 In May Tinker tried to sell Stanley to the Pittsburgh Federal League club, but Pittsburgh turned the deal down.14 In June he was sold to the St. Louis Terriers, along with outfielder Austin Walsh, “with the hope that they will inject a bit of Lake Michigan spirit into Mordecai Brown’s [St. Louis] team. . . . Tinker has little need of them, as he has a good utility infielder in Harry Fritz, and for a sub outfield William Jackson will be carried.” However, for unexplained reasons St. Louis’ president blocked the deal , and Stanley remained with Chicago.15
Typically, Stanley filled in at short only when Tinker was tired, ill, ejected from the game, or injured. For example, on July 22, in a double-header with Buffalo, “Tinker, tired after the first game, sent Stanley into short. Stan, however, made such a mess of things that Joe went out to his accustomed place in the sixth inning.”16 Tinker broke a rib in late August, giving Stanley a few starts. He played his last game on September 29, because Tinker had a severe cold. He went one for three, and made a “sensational running catch.”17
On February 12, 1915, seven ChiFed players, including Stanley, were released to the minor leagues. Stanley signed up with the Youngstown Steelmen of the Central League. Playing mostly short and third for Youngstown, in 111 games he batted .211 with 46 runs scored.18
In 1916 his old manager Joe Tinker signed him to play third base for the Peoria Distillers team.19 It is unclear if he ever played for Peoria. Instead, he moved to Michigan City, Indiana, to play for a semi-pro club sponsored by the Haskell & Barker Company, the nation’s leading manufacturer of railroad cars. Haskell Barker’s hiring of Stanley, and several other ex-big leaguers, led other semi-pro teams to grumble about their bringing in ringers.20 In 1918, he was back in South Chicago (a neighborhood near the old Chicago steel mills) playing semi-pro ball.21 By 1920 he had returned to the Haskell Barker nine as its player-manager.22 And in 1922 he manned third for the semi-pro Michigan City Grays.23
In the 1910 census “Stanislaus Ciolek” is living at the family home, 8946 Superior (in the south Chicago neighborhood, near the Steel Works) with his family. He’s a crane operator for the steel mill. In 1917 he’s foreman of the Haskell & Berker crane crew. In the 1920 census, he lives at 118 Dewey in Michigan City, a car factory laborer, with wife Celia and son Eugene age 2. In the 1930, he lives at 322 Pine, Michigan City, a foreman of the city fire department, with wife Celia (41), and sons Eugene 12, Edwin 9, and Robert W. 3 mos. Son Robert, a multi-sport high school legend at Michigan City’s Elston High School, played minor league baseball and college football and baseball for Michigan State. The other two sons (Gene and Edwin) also played college baseball at MSU. Bob and Gene were All-American in football.
On June 27, 1916 in Chicago, he married Celia Stefanski (age 28). Celia died in Michigan City, IN in 1931.24 A year later he married Frances Pietrazewski , who survived him.
Jimmy Stanley died February 11, 1947 in Michigan City.25 He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Calumet, IL.
In general, the US censii; City directories; newspapers; and information from the Ciolek family.
1 Although baseball encyclopedias give the player’s birth year as 1888, his death notice, in the Michigan City (Indiana) News, February 12, 1947, gives December 1, 1887.
2 1900 census, Chicago, 8946 Superior; 1910 census, Chicago. They lived at 8946 Superior.
3 “Mercantile League,” Chicago Inter Ocean, July 21, 1907. “Illinois Steel, 4; Inland Steel, 3,” Chicago Inter Ocean, August 4, 1907.
4 “South Chicago Works, 3: Joliet, 2,” Chicago Inter Ocean, August 15, 1909; “Rosebud Eclipses, 8; Illinois Steels, 3,” Chicago Tribune, September 26, 1909.
5 James Cruisenberry, “Buffalo Rebuffs Aspiring Tinkers,” Chicago Tribune, June 24, 1914. Stanley received a valuable ring that day, a gift from his South Chicago friends.
6 “Flashes for Fans,” The Daily Illinois State Journal [Springfield], May 15, 1910
7 Danville Commercial News, April and May, 1910, mentions Stanley in several articles. The Daily Illinois State Journal [Springfield], June 16, 1910 has Three-I League averages. The Danville Commercial News, May 5, 1910 has a photo of him. Other photos of Stanley are at the Chicago History Museum.
8 “Whiting Greys, 8, Indiana Harbor, 4,” Chicago Inter Ocean, October 10, 1910.
9 He’s often mentioned in 1912 Chicago newspapers as playing for the Keeleys. Cf. “U.S. Leaguers Stop Gunthers,” Chicago Tribune, April 28, 1912.
10 “Federal League Batting Averages,” Pittsburgh Post, September 7, 1913.
11 “Jimmy Stanley,” Chicago Examiner, April 26, 1914.
12 “Statistics of Chicago Federal League Club for Season of 1914,” Chicago Tribune, March 22, 1914.
13 Sam Weller, “Blokes Beat Centenary, 8-2,” Chicago Tribune, March 18, 1914.
14 “Sam Wellerisms,” Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1914.
15 James Cruisenberry, “St. Louis Buys Two ChiFeds,” Chicago Tribune, June 27, 1914. “Notes of the ChiFeds,” Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1914.
16 “ChiFeds Divide Double Header with Buffalo,” Chicago Examiner, July 23, 1914.
17 “ChiFeds Beat BrookFeds, 7-4; Near Pennant,” Chicago Examiner, September 30, 1914.
18 See “Shettler Earns Victory over Ft. Wayne,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 1, 1915. “Ninth Inning Rally Scores Six Newark Runners, While Fans Shout with Great Joy,” Newark Advocate, May 7, 1915. “Official List of Reserved Players,” Fort Wayne Sentinel, October 22, 1915.“ Final Official Central League Averages for 1915,” Fort Wayne Daily News, September 11, 1915.
19 “Other Baseball Notes,” Decatur Herald, March 17, 1916.
20 See “Many Ex-Leaguers in Michigan City Team,” Elkhart Truth, June 17, 1916.
21 “So. Chicago Gets Ex-Fed,” Chicago Examiner, April 25, 1918.
22 “Singers Lose in One Wild Inning,” South Bend News Times, September 20, 1920.
23 “Singers to Play Michigan City this Afternoon,” South Bend News Times, September 17, 1922.
24 “Mrs. James F. Stanley,” Michigan City News, October 15, 1931.
25 “Stanley Ciolek, City Fireman, Dies. Funeral on Friday,” Michigan City News, February 12, 1947.