Last Saturday at the age of 92, one of the greatest baseball players in Major League history passed away. It has almost been 50 years, (Good Lord), since 1965 when my mother stood in line at one of Department Stores in Philadelphia to have a copy of Stan “The Man” Musial’s autobiography autographed. As a fourteen year old in love with baseball I devoured the book because even though he retired in 1963, he was still my favorite player, and reading his story made him even more of a favorite! What a great player and person he was….
“How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away.”
— Vin Scully
Stanley Frank “Stan” Musial (pron.: /ˈmjuːziəl/ or /ˈmjuːʒəl/; born Stanisław Franciszek Musiał; November 21, 1920 – January 19, 2013) was an American professional baseball player who played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the St. Louis Cardinals (1941–1963). Nicknamed “Stan the Man”, Musial was a record 24-time All-Star selection (tied with Willie Mays), and is widely considered to be one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. He compiled 3,630 hits (ranking fourth all-time and most in a career spent with only one team). With 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 on the road, he also is considered to be the most consistent hitter of his era. He also compiled 475 home runs during his career, was named the National League’s (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times, and won three World Series championship titles. Musial was a first-ballot inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
From Stan’s Biography at the Society for American Baseball Research:
Musial’s career numbers are stunning: .331 average, .417 on-base percentage, .559 slugging percentage, 3630 hits, 725 doubles, 177 triples, 475 homers, 1949 runs, and 1951 RBI. He’s the only player to finish his career in the top 25 in all these categories and owns or did own a number of records. Several of his records stand out. For example, he had 1815 hits at home and 1815 on the road, a feat that must have required years of planning. He hit .336 at home, .326 on the road, a barely significant difference. Of his 475 home runs, 252 came at home with 223 away, in a total of 12 ballparks. He hit 320 of his homers off righthanders, 155 off southpaws, a very high percentage that dispels any notion that he may have had problems with lefties. Indeed, his favorite victim was Warren Spahn, arguably the greatest lefthander over the long haul, 17 of whose pitches he helped to leave the ballpark. It all gives the impression that Musial didn’t care who was pitching or where he was hitting: he just hit. Even though he never led the league in homers, he shares the record of 12 game-ending home runs with four pretty fair hitters–Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, and Babe Ruth.
The triple, that rarest of all hits, was something of a sub-specialty for Musial. He holds several National League records for triples: most with the bases loaded (7, Shano Collins has the American League record with 8); most seasons leading his league in triples (5); and is tied with many other National League players for twice unloading at least 20 triples in a season (he’s also the last, having done so in 1943 and 1946).
Here’s a great obituary from George Vecsey in The New York Times: The Star Who Stood Out by Not Standing Out
So Stan …….Harry Kalas once said “Chase Utley you are The Man!” and while Chase plays the game the same way you did ….You are THE MAN..… may you Rest in Peace….. think I’ll try to find my harmonica tonight and learn to play Happy Birthday! Oh and thanks for trying to give a young fan leaning over the dugout at Connie Mack stadium an autograph on a scorecard, even though it really wasn’t the right time and you really couldn’t do it right – trying was all the mattered!!