Stan Naccarato may have asked more Tacomans for more sponsorship dollars than anyone in history and rarely did he experience a turn down. When Doug McArthur asked Stan to sponsor his amateur baseball team in 1956, Stan couldn't say no. When the Stanley's Shoemen won the national amateur championship in Battle Creek, Michigan, it was "one of the highlights of my career" he said. "Being a part of that was a great experience in the world of sports." It proved to be one among many.
Stan Naccarato was born in Tacoma on May 3, 1928, and grew up in Spanaway. His interest in sports began simply by playing catch in the yard with his father. By the time he graduated from Clover Park High School in 1946, he had already spent four years playing on a semi-pro baseball team sponsored by Western State Hospital. He showed great promise when, in 1946, the Cincinnati Reds signed him on as a pitcher for the Ogden Reds of the Pioneer League. During three years of play he notched a 33-10 record—including a 19-5 rookie year---but his career came to a quick end due to an injury to his right shoulder. He returned to Tacoma and joined Morley Brotman in selling shoes.
He got back into baseball through sales and his love of people. "I am a people person," he explained, and this underscores everything he accomplished following his departure from the Red's franchise. "From boxing to anything I've done from the outside looking in, or the inside looking out, there has always been a fascination" with sports as a very human endeavor. Yes, the competitiveness of games can certainly get the adrenaline flowing, but more important is the experience a family can have together watching a baseball game in Cheney Stadium.
It is practically impossible to list everything that Naccarato has done on behalf of Tacoma. He has chaired the Tacoma Athletic Commission twice. For years he was Master of Ceremonies and chairman of the Golden Gloves tournaments. Over a 25-year period he served five governors as a Washington State Athletic Commissioner and chairman governing Professional Boxing and Wrestling. He has helped raise money for countless organizations and causes ranging from turf on the Stadium Bowl field, to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, to the treatment and prevention of leukemia, diabetes, and heart disease. For a period of time he also served as the liaison between the Puyallup Tribe and the City of Tacoma.
What Stan considers his most important contribution to local sports begins with how the Chicago Cubs decided "in the dead of night" in 1971 to move its Tacoma franchise to Wichita, Kansas. Naccarato led the effort to save baseball for the city. In 16 hours, he and 19 other investors raised the $100,000 needed. Then, for 20 years Stan was president and general manager of the Tacoma Tigers, winning in the process "every award there was to win in the national association. In 1975, for example, he was General Manager of the Year, was awarded the Charley McPhail Promotional Trophy, and "The Sporting News" General Manager of the Year award. At that time, no one in the 77-year history of the national association had won all three major awards in one year.
Naccarato also has another memorable moment, one again tied to Doug McArthur. It began when Stan saw his first medium-sized multi-purpose dome in California. He decided to start selling the idea to Tacomans, and helped raised the first round of campaign funds prior to building a "Dome of our own". He then teamed with McArthur to campaign for it. The result was a 70% "yes" vote, the biggest approval margin in the city's history. Like Tom Cross, the reward was "seeing things in Tacoma that wouldn't have been there otherwise, of being a part of it."
"I wouldn't be here today if it were not for sports," Naccarato concluded. He is a wealth of knowledge, especially when talking about how economics and the increasing role played by national sports and media organizations have changed the playing field. There is a danger, in his view, that the concern for the bottom line might destroy the best things about sports, especially in Tacoma.
He worries, because he loves the City of Destiny. "You can see my love for my town," Stan explained. "I think it is as beautiful here as San Francisco. I will sell it to everybody. I always will. I've had a love affair with this town for my whole life. I was offered a job by George Steinbrenner with the New York Yankees, and I stayed in Tacoma because you couldn't pay me enough money to go to New York. This is my town!
Inducted into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and the
Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, Naccarato has been a vital part in Tacoma's sports heartbeat.