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Everybody’s Port: May 10, 2013

Ed Stack: From Pace U.

To The National Baseball Hall Of Fame

Fascinating people, interesting people, people who would surprise you — that’s what you find in Port Washington. Thanks to Erica Prince, I was able to meet an impressive few at the Amsterdam, a well-thought-out lifecare/continuing care community that is relatively new to Port.    

One — a future chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame — was a 14-year-old polio victim when told, “You’ll never walk again.” But, as Ed Stack says, “I proved them wrong.” How much wrong is an eye-opener!

In his senior year at Pace University, Ed, as president of the Student Council, had a tiny office in the building that housed the school’s director of placement services. So, he just happened to be there when the director came rushing to Ed’s cubbyhole, excitedly suggesting that he just might want to speak with the person in the director’s office. It seems the fellow was looking for someone that his company could train in accounting, but they couldn’t find the right person. Undaunted, he tried Pace. Ed didn’t need urging. And without equivocation, he forgot about a career in law or hospital administration. Excelsior!

That old chestnut, “timing is everything,” was never more true, thought Ed to himself. The gentleman who was looking for an accountant trainee hired Ed on the spot. He was now working for The Clark Estates, Inc. Don’t recognize the name? How about Singer Sewing Machines? Well, the Clarks were the heirs to the vast Singer fortune in the mid–1800s. Ed met the family; they liked him. In time, he said, “they treated me like a member of the family.” They certainly did!

Once ensconced at Clark, Ed so progressed and impressed his employers that they named him president, representing Clark Estates’ diverse financial and business interests. Since the Clark family members lived much of the time in Cooperstown, N.Y., they became major benefactors of the village. With Clark offices in Cooperstown, as well as in Manhattan, our multitasking whiz became chairman of The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and served in that capacity from 1977 to 2000. He remains a director.

(Excuse the digression, but lest you think him totally business-absorbed while in Cooperstown, Ed also managed to focus on a pretty college student who waitressed — when not in school — at the pricey Clark-built (1909) Otesaga Hotel. After serving him breakfast for two years, speedy Ed gave her his business card. She called him; he squired her to dinner, and they were married on August 15th, 45 years ago. Her name is Christine and she is still pretty.)

A lifelong baseball fan — whose two sons, Mike and Matt, never would have forgiven their father for muffing an opportunity — I asked the man in the thick of the Pete Rose debacle about his take on it. Patiently, Ed reminded me that the Baseball Writers Association nominates and elects baseball’s Hall of Famers. Action was taken that any player who was barred from participating in major league baseball should never be allowed into the Hall of Fame. The board of directors voted in favor of it. “How did you feel about it?” I asked. Ed’s answer: “I respect the decision.”

Edward Stack has been honored more than 20 times, including honorary doctorates from Pace University, Long Island University, and Hartwig College (Oneonta, N.Y.). His activities on behalf of cultural and charitable institutions were and are unstinting. These days, despite having post-polio syndrome, Ed definitely hasn’t lost his zip.

Next time things aren’t going your way, do something about it. Ed Stack did.

See ya’ next week.