Stuck in the middle of it all

Stan Papi in Winter Haven in 1979 – Photo by Frank O’Brien/Boston Globe

Stan Papi turns 54 today. Remember Stan Papi? I do. I suppose he’s most remembered around these parts as the guy the Sox got when they traded Bill Lee. Although, according to Wikipedia, Sox fans refer to him as “The First Big Papi”. I’ve not heard one person ever refer to him that way. If you are one of these fans, please let me know so I can smack you on the back of your head. (Although I always thought “Who the hell is Stan Papi?” was a bit harsh.)

True to my style, I favored Papi for the short time he was in Boston. He never had my heart the way Fred Lynn did, but I instinctively gravitated toward a player who people automatically disliked (just because he had the bad luck to be traded for a fan favorite) and who wasn’t, to put it nicely, the best player on the field. Papi played in 51 games for the Sox and was traded to the Phillies early in the 1980 season. Much to his delight, I’m going to guess.

Papi only played six seasons in the majors, yet his name will be always remembered in Boston (at least by folks my age and older!). It couldn’t be easy, essentially, replacing “The Spaceman”. Lord knows I wouldn’t have wanted that job.

In researching Stan, I, sadly, didn’t come up with anything current on him. So I can only hope that he’s enjoying his life now and that the six years in MLB brought him some kind of happiness that the fans didn’t give him a chance to have while he was in Boston.

Happy birthday, Stan Papi. And thanks for paving the way for my favoritism of players who aren’t quite on the ‘superstar’ list at parties.

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