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Stan Lopata

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat


Date and Place of Birth: September 12, 1925 Delray, MI
Date and Place of Death:    June 15, 2013 Philadelphia, PA
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Catcher
Rank: Private First-Class
Military Unit: 94th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized), 14th Armored Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Stanley E. Lopata was born on September 12, 1925, in Delray, Michigan, where he excelled in baseball and basketball at Southwestern High School in Detroit. Lopata graduated from high school in 1943, and worked out with the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians and Brooklyn Dodgers during the summer, before entering military service with the Army in December 1943. Assigned to Fort Knox, Kentucky, he played some baseball there before going overseas with the 94th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) of the 14th Armored Division. Private First-Class Lopata was in Europe for 18 months and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.

When the war ended, Lopata played on the 9th Armored Division basketball squad playing against such stars as Ewell Blackwell, Bill Towery and Milt Ticco. Returning home in late 1945, he played semi-pro basehall before he was signed by the Phillies to a Utica Blue Sox contract and was optioned to the Terra Haute Phillies of the Class B Three-I League. The 20-year-old catcher played 67 games and batted .292, earning promotion to Utica in the Class A Eastern League for 1947. Lopata played 115 games with the pennant-winning Blue Sox and batted .325, earning the team's MVP title. He advanced to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the Class AAA International League in 1948 – just one step from the major leagues - and batted .279 with 15 home runs in 110 games, joining the Phillies for six games in September.

Lopata remained with the Phillies – primarily as a back-up catcher from 1949 through 1958. His best season was 1956, when he played a career-high 146 games and batted .267 with 32 home runs and 95 RBIs, and was selected to the National League All-Star team for the second time.

In March 1959, the Phillies traded 33-year-old Lopata to the Milwaukee Braves where he played a further two seasons before retiring. He worked for a time for a steel plant in Dearborn, Michigan, then moved to Philadelphia to work for IBM and, later, as a salesman and then vice president for a concrete materials company before retiring in 1986.

Lopata was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1988, and the National Polish-American Hall of Fame in 1997. He passed away on June 15, 2013, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, aged 87.

Date Added December 25, 2017

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