Stan Javier seemed destined to become a Cardinals player, but although he had the name, pedigree and skills, it didn’t happen.
Forty years ago, on March 26, 1981, Javier signed with the Cardinals as an amateur free agent.
Stan was the son of Julian Javier, a second baseman who helped the Cardinals to three National League pennants and two World Series championships in the 1960s.
Julian named his son in honor of Stan Musial, who was Julian’s Cardinals teammate from 1960-63.
An outfielder and first baseman who batted from both sides, Stan Javier went on to play 17 seasons in the majors for eight teams, but not the Cardinals.
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch aptly noted, “Stan Javier would have been an ideal Cardinals player, a switch-hitter who can run and play more than one position.”
A good name
Stan Javier was born on Jan. 9, 1964, and raised in the Dominican Republic. He was one of five children of Julian and Ynez Javier. Stan’s older brother, Julian Jr., became a doctor.
Asked why he named a son Stan, Julian Sr. told the Post-Dispatch, “I wanted my son to be like Stan Musial. Stan Musial is a gentleman.”
Musial was playing in his last season in 1963 when Julian Sr. told him that Ynez was pregnant and the child would be a boy. “He said, ‘Why don’t you name him after me?’ ” Julian Sr. told the Post-Dispatch. “I said, ‘Yeah, why not?’ Stan’s a good name for him.”
In 1990, Stan Javier said of Stan Musial, “I don’t know him that well, but I knew who he was and knew all about him when I was growing up in the Dominican.”
When Stan Javier was a toddler, he spent some summers visiting his father in St. Louis and went with him to Busch Memorial Stadium. In 1988, Stan Javier told the Post-Dispatch, “I remember the stadium, the clubhouse, the players _ Lou Brock and Bob Gibson.”
Making an impression
Stan Javier developed into a talented youth baseball player in the Dominican Republic. In 1981, soon after Stan turned 17, he and his father showed up at Cardinals spring training camp in Florida. Julian Sr. wanted the Cardinals to take a look at his son and offer him a contract.
Impressed, the Cardinals signed Stan and told him to report in June to their farm team in Johnson City, Tenn., following his graduation from high school in the Dominican Republic.
Stan hit .250 in 53 games for Johnson City in 1981. At home after the season, he worked with his father to improve his game. “He pitched batting practice to me a lot and worked on my stance,” Stan said to The Sporting News.
When Stan reported to Johnson City in 1982, he hit “with authority,” said director of player development Lee Thomas.
Wearing No. 6, the same as Musial had, and playing on a Johnson City team with Vince Coleman and Terry Pendleton, Stan hit .276 in 57 games. “Stan definitely is a major-league prospect,” Johnson City manager Rich Hacker told The Sporting News.
On Jan. 24, 1983, the Cardinals and Yankees traded minor leaguers. The Cardinals sent Javier and infielder Bobby Meacham to the Yankees for outfielder Bob Helson and pitchers Steve Fincher and Marty Mason.
The Post-Dispatch reported the deal was to appease Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who held hard feelings toward the Cardinals for sending him an injured player, Bob Sykes, in exchange for Willie McGee 15 months earlier.
In 1988, looking back on the deal, Stan Javier told the Post-Dispatch, “That trade was the hardest thing for me … I really was just starting to learn how to play.”
The Yankees brought Stan to the majors in April 1984. Eight months later, he was part of a package sent by the Yankees to the Athletics for Rickey Henderson.
Stan became a role player for the Athletics under manager Tony La Russa.
In 1988, Julian Sr. told the Post-Dispatch, “My son has been playing good ball and he’ll be a good player, but not like Stan Musial.”
“I wish I could hit like Stan Musial and catch the ball like Julian Javier,” Stan Javier said to reporter Dave Luecking. “That would be nice. I admire those players, but there’s no way I can be those two. You have to be your own person. If you try to be like someone else, you’re in trouble. I hit like Stan Javier and catch like Stan Javier.”
Stan got to play in two World Series (1988 and 1989) with the Athletics. According to the Post-Dispatch, Julian and Stan Javier were the third father and son to get World Series hits. The others were Jim and Mike Hegan, and Bob and Terry Kennedy.
In May 1990, the Athletics traded Stan to the Dodgers for Willie Randolph. When the Dodgers went to St. Louis that month for a series against the Cardinals, Stan got to play at Busch Memorial Stadium for the first time as a major leaguer. He hadn’t been to the ballpark since he was a child.
On May 26, he entered the game as a substitute and hit a three-run triple against Scott Terry. Boxscore
The next night, Stan, starting in center field and batting second, was 4-for-6 against the Cardinals. He scored three runs and drove in one. Boxscore
For the series, Stan was 5-for-8 with four RBI.
“It felt gratifying to have a good game here,” Stan told the Post-Dispatch.
Swing and miss
After La Russa left the Athletics to manage the Cardinals, he and general manager Walt Jocketty tried to acquire Stan.
The Cardinals had “considerable interest” in making a trade with the Giants for Stan in November 1998, the Post-Dispatch reported, but the Astros got him instead.
When Stan became a free agent after the 1999 season, the Post-Dispatch predicted the Cardinals would “go hard after Stan.”
“I think he can play a lot and protect us in the outfield,” Jocketty said.
Instead, Stan signed with the Mariners and finished his playing days with them. Video
Stan produced 1,358 career hits. He batted .270 against left-handers and .269 versus right-handers.
His career numbers against the Cardinals included a .366 on-base percentage and .271 batting average.