By Glen Sparks
George “Tuck” Stainback wasn’t blessed with the most musical surname. Nor did he enjoy the most accomplished career as a Major League baseball player.
Over 13 seasons, from 1934 through 1946, Stainback put on the uniform of seven different teams. He didn’t star for any of them. In fact, he retired with just a .259 career batting average and hit only 17 home runs.
Stainback went to bat 359 at-bats as a 22-year-old rookie for the Chicago Cubs. That was his career-high mark in the big leagues.
Even so, the right-handed batter made his mark, both on the field and off it, even if he did not possess the most powerful bat, the fastest feet or the strongest throwing arm.
Stainback, born in Los Angeles on this date in 1911, attended Fairfax High School, near Hollywood. He broke into pro ball in 1931 with the Bisbee, Ariz., Bees. From there, he played two years with the hometown Angels of the Pacific Coast League and signed with the Cubs.
The rookie outfielder batted .306 in 1934 with Chicago, the second-highest mark of his career. (He hit .327 in just 104 at-bats for the Brooklyn Dodgers.) Stainback lasted four seasons in Chicago and then went to the St. Louis Cardinals. He got into just six games in St. Louis being released. The Philadelphia Phillies picked him up on waivers. Midway through the year, Philadelphia sent Stainback to Brooklyn.
He later played with the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees and finished up with the Philadelphia A’s
- As a Cub, Tuck led a bench-jockeying episode against umpire George Moriarty. The name calling so infuriated Moriarty that he cleared the Chicago bench.
- That Stainback trade to the Cardinals also involved a pretty good pitcher, Dizzy Dean. On April 16, 1938, St. Louis sent future Hall of Famer Dean to Chicago for $185,000, plus hurlers Curt Davis and Clyde Shoun as well as Stainback.
- The Phillies selected Stainback off waivers on May 28, 1938. Soon after, he single-handedly kept the great Carl Hubbell from tossing a perfect game. He drew a walk and hit a single, the only Phillies player to get on base.
- Stainback played in two World Series, in 1942 and ’43 with the Yankees. He earned a ring in that second Series.
- While the Great Depression was on, Stainback, along with Yankee shortstop Frank Crosetti, helped put together the Majors’ first pension fund. The two solicited donations of $250 from each player as a way to start the fund and assist ballplayers down on their luck.
Stainback settled in the L.A. area after retiring. When the Dodgers left Brooklyn for southern California, he asked Dodgers executive Red Patterson for a job. Over the next few decades, Stainback worked in group sales for the Dodges and also ran the team’s Knothole program, providing free tickets for boys and girls.
Stainback died in 1992 at the age of 81.