Stan Naccarato was laid to rest Saturday morning as a bugler played dead-slow taps through a soft breeze blowing beneath a perfectly blue baseball sky.
Friends and family eulogized “Mr. Tacoma” both for his philanthropy and for his dedication to the city he loved and forever promoted.
As a group of perhaps a hundred invited guests settled into seats in the shade of a canopy tent, memories rose.
“He was the greatest promoter of Tacoma in the 20th century. He loved the city, he breathed the city,” said former Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma.
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“Stan always made things happen. You always said yes to Stan,” said former Pierce County Executive Joe Stortini.
“Stan inspired me. He helped me love Tacoma,” said Aaron Artman, who currently heads the Tacoma Rainiers.
“It’s time to let him go,” said the Rev. Jerry Graham, officiating, standing beside Stan’s silver casket.
Stan Naccarato died late last month at 88. He was Tacoma-born, Tacoma-raised. He was a respected athlete at Clover Park High School and went on to play professional baseball until an injury took him home.
He remained close to sports and is perhaps best remembered as general manager of professional teams at Cheney Stadium. He was a man who loved a microphone, whether introducing bouts at the annual Golden Gloves or calling a play-by-play of Fourth of July fireworks exploding down along Ruston Way.
Following the burial, Naccarato’s family and the Puyallup Tribe hosted an afternoon memorial service at the Emerald Queen Casino showroom in Tacoma.
On a stage where the likes of Kenny Rogers and Blue Oyster Cult perform, on Saturday there were jackets and jerseys on stage, leather and flannel, and there were trophies and photographs alongside sprays of flowers.
A row of baseball caps spanned Naccarato’s career in Tacoma baseball, from the early years to the Rainiers, and there was a black desk telephone because Stan was always on the phone.
After several minutes, speakers began to run out of adjectives, having used colorful, unique, authentic and iconic.
“He helped me in learning how to deal with people. Stan was always there for me,” said Frank Wright, the casino general manager and a longtime friend.
“This one hurt me a lot,” he said. “You lose a little bit of your heart each time.”
“Just think of Tacoma without Stan Naccarato,” said Baarsma, addressing the crowd of several hundred.
More adjectives: tough, passionate, proud, influential, unforgettable, a Tacoma classic.
“His legacy will never be topped in this city,” said Tacoma golf legend Ken Still.
Bob Christofferson, currently Mariners head groundskeeper who began his career at Cheney Stadium, recalled the nights when Stan would announce the impending arrival of skydivers by proclaiming, “Cast your eyes skyward.”
Christofferson also recalled the night daredevil Spanky Spangler had planned to dive into an air pillow from a hot air balloon, but then the balloon caught fire 10 feet off the ground and Naccarato still wanted to please the crowd and persuaded Spangler to make a death-defying dive instead from a stadium light tower, which he did, and broke his collarbone.
The stadium was Naccarato’s “chosen place of worship,” said Ron Huntington, son of Tacoma broadcaster and sports promoter Clay Huntington.
Longtime pal and Tacoma promoter Doug McArthur recalled the 1955 Stanley’s Shoemen national championship, and how Naccarato, the sponsor, visited every jewelry shop in Tacoma seeking donations of watches to reward the players.
Olympic Champion Sugar Ray Seales recalled that Naccarato “taught us all to be first, to be Number One.”
“He went in peace,” said Naccarato’s widow, Jeanne.
A memorial video came near the end of the event, and here was Naccarato with Joe Namath, Joe DiMaggio, Billy Martin, Jimmy Carter. Sometimes in a tux and sometimes in a tracksuit, here was “Stan the Man” with his children, his grandchildren, with boxers and bowlers, in the town he loved.
And then at the end came bagpipes, and on the pipes the piper played “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535