Phillies “Whiz Kid” Era Catcher Stan Lapata, Dead At 87

Obituaries 19 Jun 2013
Whiz Kid catcher Stan Lopata (left) sits at the bar with Paul Chenger (middle), retired principal of Coatesville Area High School and a minor league player in Milwaukee Braves system in the 1960′s and local barber Jack Assetto (right) prior to enjoying dinner at Rocco & Anna’s in April.

Whiz Kid catcher Stan Lopata (left) sits at the bar with Paul Chenger (middle), retired principal of Coatesville Area High School and a minor league player in Milwaukee Braves system in the 1960′s and local barber Jack Assetto (right) prior to enjoying dinner at Rocco & Anna’s on Main Street earlier this year.

It is with sadness that I note the passing of Stan Lopata a former Phillies catcher and one of the top power hitting catchers of his time, of heart complications at the age of 87.

According to his obituary on Philly.com, Lapata “was a member of the famous “Whiz Kids” team of 1950, which won the Phillies’ first National League pennant since 1915.”

Stan wasn’t from Parkesburg, didn’t even live here, but he ate here from time to time the last time being when Jack Assetto introduced me to him at Roccos & Anna’s one Tuesday earlier this year.

I did a quick post about meeting Mr. Lapata here and Chuck Vail, he of yesterday’s withering Comment of the Day post, left a wonderful comment a day or two later recalling childhood memories watching Lapata catch and hit for his beloved Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium in the 1950’s.

Philly.com’s obituary of Stan Lapata does a great job capturing the essence of the man, a gentle man who was more than just a ball player but a decent human being as well.

WHEN A BASEBALL legend like Rogers Hornsby gave a hitter advice, he’d be wise to take it.

Stan Lopata, something of a legend himself as a Phillies catcher in the ’50s, was having problems at the plate in 1954 when he and outfielder Johnny Wyrostek ran into Hornsby during a road trip.

Referring to Lopata, Wyrostek asked Hornsby, “What do you think about this kid?”

 The Hall of Fame infielder (.358 career batting average, 2,930 hits), said that he had seen Lopata on TV and that he missed the ball too many times.

 “He said you should get a piece of the ball every time you swing the bat – not necessarily a base hit, but get a piece of it,” Lopata said.

 Stan took the advice to heart and worked on his stance, getting lower and lower, until he developed his famous crouch, and he concentrated on getting a piece of the ball.

As a result, Stan Lopata became one of the best power-hitting catchers in the National League in the mid-’50s.

Stanley Edward Lopata died Saturday from heart complications at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania at age 87.

Read the entire obituary here.

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