Eddie Stanky, the combative infielder whose inspired play helped bring pennants to the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Boston Braves and the New York Giants, died yesterday at a hospital in Fairhope, Ala. Stanky, who had homes in Mobile, Ala., and Fairhope, was 83.
The cause was a heart attack, according to the University of South Alabama in Mobile, where Stanky was formerly the baseball coach.
Stanky, known as the Brat, was a baseball player with so many intangible assets, most of them aggressive, that Branch Rickey once was moved to observe: ''He can't run, he can't hit and he can't throw. But if there's a way to beat the other team, he'll find it.''
Stanky found ways not only to beat but also to enrage other teams in 11 years in the National League with the Chicago Cubs, the Dodgers, the Braves, the Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals, and as a manager with the Cards, the Chicago White Sox and, for one memorable day, the Texas Rangers.
He was frequently a leadoff batter, always a hustler, often a needler, and he managed to draw bases on balls so relentlessly that an opposing pitcher complained, ''First you lose Stanky, then you lose your temper, then you lose the game.''
Stanky was small but pugnacious, and one of the more inventive ballplayers of the 1940's and early 1950's.
Rickey traded Stanky, from the Dodgers to the Braves in 1948, partly to make room at second base for Jackie Robinson, who played first base the year before, when he broke the major league color barrier in Brooklyn's pennant-winning season. The season Stanky joined them, the Braves won their first pennant in 34 years. After two years in Boston, he was traded to the Giants, who won their ''miracle'' pennant against the Dodgers in the final inning of the final playoff game in 1951.
Edward Raymond Stanky was born in Philadelphia and for a time favored boxing and soccer, which he played at Northeast High School. But he never stood more than 5 feet 8 inches nor weighed more than 160 pounds, so he stuck to baseball. He was signed in 1935 by the Philadelphia Athletics' organization and played in the minor leagues for eight years before joining the Cubs in 1943.
A year and a half later, he was traded to the Dodgers and began a long and tumultuous association with Leo Durocher, his manager in Brooklyn and then with the Giants.
For the next three and a half years, Stanky served as the ''holler guy'' at second base. He set a National League record by drawing 148 walks in 1945, led the league's second basemen in double plays for three years, and in 1947 played in the All-Star Game and the World Series, against the Yankees.
After a salary dispute with Rickey, he was shipped to Boston. Stanky fractured an ankle in July, but he returned to help the Braves win their first pennant since 1914, hitting .320.
But he came to be considered one of the team's leading rebels against Manager Billy Southworth and again was traded, this time to the Giants. Durocher was managing then at the Polo Grounds, and Stanky still blamed him for a lack of support during the dispute with Rickey in Brooklyn. But they resolved their differences. In 1951, with Stanky at second base and Alvin Dark at shortstop -- the 1948 Braves' double play combination, too -- the Giants won their legendary pennant victory over the Dodgers on Bobby Thomson's home run. Stanky's feistiness was underlined in the 1951 World Series, when he kicked the ball out of Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto's glove.
The following season, he became a playing manager with the Cardinals. He ran the team from 1952 until 1955, though his playing career ended in 1953, then managed the White Sox from 1966 through 1968. He never finished higher than third place.
In 1969, he began a new career as the baseball coach at the University of South Alabama, but for one June day in 1977, he was drawn back into the major leagues as manager of the Texas Rangers. After that day, he abruptly quit and left for Alabama, saying only that he was homesick. In his 14 years at South Alabama, he built the team into a national power.
Stanky is survived by his wife, Dickie, the daughter of Milt Stock, the minor league manager who had helped develop Stanky's talent before becoming his father-in-law; a son, Mike, of Dallas; three daughters, Beverly Corte of Fairhope; Kay Flarity of Covington, La., and Marianne Page, of Memphis; a sister, Dorothy Peirce, of Bethel Park, Pa., and eight grandchildren.
In his long career, as a player and manager, Stanky seemed to revel in his hard-nosed image.
''Baseball is not a game to me,'' Stanky once mused. ''It's a business. And a bloodthirsty business, at that.''