About the Photo:
There were ten Stanczak brothers from North Chicago, Illinois. They started an all brother baseball team just before the Great Depression in 1929. The brothers were Martin, Bill, Julius, Michael, Louis, John, Ed, Joe, Frank and Bruno. The eldest was 19 years older than the youngest. Like all kids in the era, they begun playing baseball as youngsters. They played in a vacant field near their home, in Waukegan, IL. As they grew older, they individually joined various organized teams. However, ultimately, they decided to combine their efforts and field their own team.
They routinely won local league and tournament championships and their reputation began to grow. The more they played, and won, the bigger the crowds became. In 1933, they defeated the Knights of Lithuania for the Lake County championship, before a crowd of 1,200.
With the reputation for taking on all comers, in 1929 they got into the World Brother Championship series. That year they played the Marlatt Brothers in Cheyenne, Wyo. The Marlatt’s fell in four straight.
The Stanczak’s went on to defend their title against other brother teams. The most notable were the Deike’s of Houston. The Deike’s however, turned out to be only 8/9s Deike. Future President, Lyndon B. Johnson played first base.
The Deike’s, down in Texas, played their home games in a field that previously served as their dad’s goat pasture. Yet the team’s reputation was nothing to sneeze at. Pitcher Marvin had a wicked fastball and could hit the ball a mile. Levi, who served as the community’s postmaster, was the best shortstop in Blanco County. The Deike team ranged in age from 14-year-old left fielder Victor to 34-year-old right fielder Edwin.
It was in August 1935 that the two teams, given new uniforms and $600 for travel expenses by the Corpus Christi–based Nueces Coffee Company, set out for Lawrence Stadium in Wichita, Kansas, where the ballyhooed game would be played. The Stanczak’s traveled in a rented bus, and the Deike’s made the trip in two Model A Fords.
The game matched two immigrant nationalities and starkly different lifestyles: the Polish Stanczak’s against the German Deike’s, city folks versus country boys, North against South.
And, once again, the Stanczak’s proved themselves to be the best. The Deike’s, competing in a night game and under lights for the first time, took an early 3–0 lead, but the Stanczak’s quickly responded with seven runs as fielding errors plagued the nervous Texans. The brothers from Waukegan went on to win 11–5.
In time, age and adult responsibilities brought an end to the legendary team. After the team broke up in the late ’30s, brothers Martin and Louis got tryouts with the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately the BIg Leagues were not in the cards and both went to work for Johnson motors in Waukegan. John ran a bowling alley. Mike went on to pastor a Catholic church in Milwaukee. Edward and Joseph became co-owners of the North Chicago Cab Company. Bruno became the Lake County State’s Attorney.
Bruno’s lawyerly assertiveness is thought to have brought the brothers immortality. Rumor has it that it was he who sent the photo to Cooperstown. The Stanczak’s were inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, as the best 10 brothers to ever play baseball. Thus it is that their team picture is displayed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
Noteworthy: The picture of the Stanczak team in uniform in Cooperstown has the team name mis-spelled on the jersey front. Due to the “lack of space”, Instead of “S-T-A-N-C-Z-A-K B-R-O-S.”, it said “S-T-A-N-Z-A-K B-R-O-S.” — missing the “C.”