Remembering the ‘epitome’ of baseball Stan Slack
It was a fitting tribute for the man being described as the “epitome of baseball.”
Stan Slack passed away June 12 at Marshall Gowland Manor, just a good line drive away from Errol Russell Park, where he spent much of his free time. The day he died, someone placed a Sarnia Braves sweater with his name on it in the dugout of the park as a tribute.
Slack, who was 83, signed a professional baseball contract with the St. Louis Cardinals at 14 playing nine years in the Cardinal and Brave organizations. He’s believed to be the youngest player at 14 to win a professional game. Slack was instrumental in the formation of the Sarnia Braves Minor Baseball program.
Joe Panik, the president of the Braves, remembers when Slack turned pro. “It was all over the papers at the time, the phoneme. He struck out everybody when he was a young kid.
“He was the epitome of baseball in the 40, 50, 60 and 70s,” says Panik adding when he returned to Sarnia after his pro career, all the ball players looked up to him realizing that it was possible to go pro.
“His legacy is obviously baseball…a lot of people around town call me Mr. Baseball but he was Mr. Baseball before me.”
But Panik says Slack had another gift, one he shared with the sports community. “He was basically one of a kind as a fundraiser…he even had my son working for him selling tickets at one time.”
Panik says Slack could find ways to raise sponsorship money to get teams to tournaments all over North America including the Braves to the national championships in the 80s.
Slack’s family wrote in his obituary; “Stan’s greatest satisfaction and joy came through his uncanny ability to fundraise, which enabled countless youth teams to participate, operate and compete in Canadian, American and International events.”
And Panik says many ball players will remember Slack as the guy who was always at the ball park. “He lived right behind centerfield on Talfourd Street. He was at the park the whole time razz’n the umpire. I was an umpire and I didn’t like that much. He was very outspoken,” says Panik. “He talked to the players, he talked to the coaches and they would listen to him.
“He was a big influence on several generations of players.”
– Heather Wright