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|Birth||November 21, 1920, Donora, PA|
|Debut||September 17, 1941, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Braves, Sportsman's Park|
|Team(s)||St. Louis Cardinals (1941-1963)|
|"Stan The Man"|
|Inducted as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals (6)|
|Year Inducted: 1969|
|First Year Elligible: 1968|
Stanley Frank Musial, original Stanisław Franciszek Musiał, pronounced (Myou-zee-uhl) nicknamed "Stan the Man" (born November 21, 1920 in Pittsburgh area town of Donora, Pennsylvania, which is also the birth place of Major League Baseball players Ken Griffey, Sr. and Ken Griffey, Jr.), is an American former player in Major League Baseball who played 22 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941 to 1963.
His father, Lukasz, was a Polish immigrant; his mother, Mary, was the daughter of Czech immigrants. Musial started his career as a pitcher but after a shoulder injury moved to the outfield in 1940. On his 19th birthday, he married Lillian Labash, and they have four children. Musial remains an idol in the St. Louis area. Musial is also an honorary member of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity.
Musial played 1,890 games in the outfield and 1,016 games at first base, but was primarily known for his consistent hitting. The left-hander led the National League in batting average seven times and in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and hits six times each. He won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1943, 1946, and 1948, and in 1957, received Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award.
Musial's career was perhaps most notable for its consistency. His .331 career batting average ranks 30th; he batted .336 at home and .326 on the road. He batted .340 in day games and .320 at night. Remarkably, Musial had exactly 1,815 career hits at home, and 1,815 hits on the road. Musial has the most career home runs for a player who never won a single-season home run title. In his September 1941 debut, Musial had two hits; after he got two hits in his final game, 22 years later, a sportswriter jokingly wrote, "He hasn't improved at all."
Musial once said, "I consciously memorized the speed at which every pitcher in the league threw his fastball, curve, and slider; then, I'd pick up the speed of the ball in the first thirty feet of its flight and knew how it would move once it had crossed the plate."
Former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine once described his strategy of pitching to Musial: "I've had pretty good success with Stan by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third." Erskine's teammate, Preacher Roe, shared a similar sentiment. He summarized his strategy of pitching to Musial as "I throw him four wide ones and try to pick him off at first." In another story, Willie Mays, then playing for the New York Giants, was receiving instruction from his manager Leo Durocher about how he should prepare defensively in center field for each of the hitters in the Cardinals' lineup. He described the weaknesses and tendencies of the first two hitters, then moved on to the cleanup hitter. Mays interrupted to ask about the man in the third slot. Durocher replied, "The third hitter is Stan Musial. There is no advice I can give you about him."
It was fans of the Dodgers who gave him his nickname. After several fine hitting performances at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn fans would see him come to bat, and say, "Uh-oh, here comes that man again. That man is back!" St. Louis sportswriter Bob Broeg picked up on this, and Musial was "Stan the Man" from that point on.
Like many American baseball players of his era, Musial spent part of his career serving in World War II, missing the 1945 season to serve as a seaman first class in the United States Navy from January 1945 to March 1946.
Musial played in 24 All-Star games and the Cardinals retired his uniform number 6 at the end of the 1963 season. He was a fan favorite for his reputation, both on the field and off, as a gentleman. His career has, surprisingly,been underrated in reent polls of the great players.
At the time of his retirement in 1963, Musial held 17 major league, 29 National League, and 9 All-Star game records. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Roy Campanella, in his first year of eligibility in 1969.
A statue of Musial was erected outside of Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri in 1968. It is inscribed with a quote from former baseball commissioner Ford Frick: "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight." The statue was unveiled the day after the Chicago Cubs had completed a three-game series sweep of the Cardinals; a few fans at the time feared that the statue might turn out to be of Ernie Banks.
Musial also served one year as general manager of the Cardinals. After the 1966 season, Musial succeeded Bob Howsam as GM and the 1967 Cardinals promptly won 101 games, the NL pennant, and the 1967 World Series title. Musial then stepped down at the end of the season and was succeeded by Bing Devine.
Following his retirement Musial has been a successful businessman and restaurateur, and remains a popular figure in the St. Louis area. When asked why he always seemed so happy, he remarked, "If you had a .331 lifetime batting average, you'd be happy all the time, too!"
In 1999, he ranked Number 10 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. Some fans suggested that being placed so high on the list was a "hometown pick," as TSN is published in St. Louis. This was diluted somewhat later in the year, when he was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, one of only 30 players to be honored for his great success.
- At the 1962 All-Star Game, U.S. President John F. Kennedy said to Musial, "A couple of years ago they told me I was too young to be president and you were too old to be playing baseball. But we fooled them." Musial was appointed as a national advocate for physical fitness.
- Sportscaster Bob Costas praised Musial at the expense of his contemporaries: "He didn't hit a homer in his last at-bat (like Ted Williams); he hit a single. He didn't hit in 56 straight games. He married his high school sweetheart and stayed married to her, never married a Marilyn Monroe (like Joe DiMaggio). He didn't play with the sheer joy and style that goes alongside Willie Mays' name. None of those easy things are there to associate with Stan Musial. All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being."
- Sabermetrician Bill James made a similar comment: "[Musial] was never colorful, never much of an interview. He makes a better statue. What he was, was a ballplayer. He didn't spit at fans, he didn't get into fights in nightclubs, he didn't marry anybody famous. He hustled. You look at his career totals of doubles and triples, and they'll remind you of something that was accepted while he was active, and has been largely forgotten since: Stan Musial was one player who always left the batter's box on a dead run."
- Musial is an accomplished harmonica player who often appears at major functions (Opening Day at Busch Stadium, the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony) to play "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".
- Recorded his 3,000th career hit, a pinch hit double off of the Chicago Cubs' pitcher Moe Drabowsky, on May 13, 1958. (Five years later, Drabowsky would again be in the record books, this time as the losing pitcher in Early Wynn's 300th career victory.) St. Louis won the game 5-3.
- Musial collected 3,630 hits; 1,815 at home, and 1,815 on the road.
- Musial was ranked #1 among most underrated athletes by ESPN.
- Stan Musial's 3,630th hit on the last game of the 1963 season was hit past Cincinnati rookie 2nd baseman Pete Rose who was destined to break Musial's record and become the National League's all time hits champion.
- Magazine covers
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- DHL Hometown Heroes
- List of Players in Baseball Hall of Fame With Over 90% of the Vote
Regular season statsEdit
- Official Site
- Baseball Hall of Fame
- Baseball-Reference.com - Major league career statistics
- Stan the Man and the Question of Fame
- St. Louis Walk of Fame
- SABR Biography Project
- Stan Musial Photographs in the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri-St. Louis
|Major League Baseball | MLB All-Century Team|
Nolan Ryan | Sandy Koufax | Cy Young | Roger Clemens | Bob Gibson | Walter Johnson | Warren Spahn | Christy Mathewson | Lefty Grove