By March 1989, Pete Stanicek had a reputation, and it wasn't a good one. He wasn't tough enough, the story went. He couldn't play hurt.
It was enough for a Baltimore Sun writer to make a stinging comparison between Stanicek and teammate Billy Ripken. While Ripken would run through a brick wall and still play, the reporter wrote, Stanicek "would climb a ladder over the wall and twist his knee in the process, putting him on the disabled list."
"I know what people say," Stanicek told The Sun, responding to the talk. "They wonder if I'm tough enough. Only I know inside how I feel and how my leg is. If someone says I'm not tough enough or I don't play hurt, it's hard to change their minds. But, believe me, as soon as I can play, I'll be out there, giving it everything I've got."
Stanicek didn't know it then, but, injured or uninjured, his major league career was already over, having played two seasons for the Orioles and 113 games.
Stanicek played six years in the Orioles system, first taken in the ninth round of the 1985 draft out of Stanford. He started at short-season Newark, then made single-A Hagerstown in 1986.
It was in 1987 that Stanicek toured the system, starting at AA Charlotte, making AAA Rochester then the bigs as a September call-up. His Sept. 1 debut meant he beat his older brother Steve Stanicek to the majors by two weeks.
In 30 games with Baltimore that year, Pete Stanicek hit .274. He did well enough to be invited back for spring 1988. He made Baltimore again April 29, in time to help the Orioles to their first win of the year, ending their record-setting 21-game slide.
Stanicek was called up earlier that day, singling and scoring in the fifth and he helped start a seventh inning rally in the Orioles' 9-0 win. His first of four major league home runs came that June.
He played a total of 83 games for the Orioles that year. He returned for spring 1989, expected to challenge Billy Ripken for the starting job at second base, according to The Sun. He went 2 for 5 in one early march game. But a series of injuries put a stop to that and Stanicek was sent down.
Stanicek spent 1989 back at AA Hagerstown, playing just 47 games. For 1990, Stanicek spent 28 games back at AAA Rochester and another 33 at Hagerstown. His combined batting average for the year was just .212.
He made another attempt for 1991, but was cut before spring training was out, according to The Sun. The paper noted Stanicek's series of injuries, saying he "couldn't stay out of the training room long enough to become a starter."
"That was a minor-league decision," Orioles manager Frank Robinson told The Sun. "I guess he just ran out of time."
- Sumter Item, Associated Press, April 30, 1988: Orioles end slide
- Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, March 26, 1989: Stanicek Knows What He Must Do
- Baltimore Sun, March 27, 1991: Stanicek cut from minor-league camp
Cards Reviewed: 167/880 - 19.0%
Players/Coaches Reviewed: 170
Made the Majors: 116 - 68%
Never Made the Majors: 54 - 32%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 46
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 59