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Musial, Stan

Stan Musial

1920-

American baseball player

The greatest baseball player in one of the greatest baseball towns in the United States, Stan "The Man" Musial spent his entire career twenty-three-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, including sixteen consecutive seasons when he hit .300 or better. Musial was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, one of the best hitters of all time, and one of the game's great ambassadors. A retiring country gentleman who transcended humble beginnings but never completely overcame his stuttering, Musial constantly expressed gratitude and love for the gameand he embodied the straightforward, no-frills attitude of America's baseball heartland. Being a player was far more important to Musial than being a celebrity.

The Longshot

Stanislaus Musial was born in 1920 in Donora, Pennsylvania, three years after another Hall of Famer from

an immigrant family in southwestern Pennsylvania, Honus Wagner , retired from active play. The parents of Musial's mother, Mary Lancos, had emigrated from Czechoslovakia. His father, Lukasz Musial, was a Polish immigrant who worked in the shipping department of the mill in Donora. The Musials had four daughters before Stanislaus was born, and later had another son, Ed, who would go on to play baseball in the minor leagues.

Stan Musial took to baseball at an early age, excited by a neighbor who played semipro ball. A natural left-handed hitter and thrower, Musial made an important refinement in his batting skills while playing for the local Donora Zinc Works company team. Their home field had a short left-field fence with a trolley track behind it, and Musial adapted his stroke so he could hit to the opposite field. His ability to hit to all fields made him very difficult to get out.

Musial's adeptness with the bat was overshadowed in his teen years by his powerful throwing arm. He threw very fast, but his pitching was unpolished. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Wagner's team, never showed any interest in Musial, but the St. Louis Cardinals did. The Cardinals' owner, Branch Rickey , had developed a far-flung scouting system. After Musial played basketball for Donora High School over the winter of 1937-38, he left school before graduating after signing a professional contract with St. Louis. The Cardinals assigned him to Williamson, West Virginia, in the Class D Mountain League, the lowest level of the minors. There Musial spent the 1938 and 1939 seasons and did not impress anyone. His strong arm was erratic, and Williamson's manager, Harrison Wickel, reported to the parent organization that he was the wildest pitcher he'd ever seen. The statistics bear out that judgment: in 1939, Musial walked eighty-nine batters (while striking out eighty-five) in ninety-one innings.

Wickel recommended that Musial be released, but luckily for Musial a Williamson outfielder was injured, and he was pressed into service as an everyday hitter. He batted .352, and that saved his career. The next season, the Cardinals moved Musial to Daytona Beach in another Class D league, the Florida State League. For Daytona Beach, he pitched and played outfielder between his pitching starts. During one game, playing center field, Musial tried to make a diving catch and injured his left shoulder. That pretty much ended his pitching career, but his .311 batting average prompted the Cardinals to give him a second chance.

Meteoric Rise

In 1941, Musial turned around his lagging career, rising from the low minors to the major leagues during the course of a single remarkable season. To start the year, the Cardinals promoted him one level to a Class C farm team in Springfield, Missouri. There, in eighty-seven games, he hit twenty-six home runs and batted .379. That earned him a midseason promotion to Rochester, New York, a Class B Cardinals farm club, where he hit.326 in fifty-four games. In September, Musial was called up to the Cardinals and was an immediate sensation, getting six hits in a doubleheader and batting .426 in his twelve-game stint. His standout performance earned him the starting left field job for the 1942 season.

The 1942 Cardinals had a team of young, inexperienced players like Musial. They were a loose, carefree bunch, including many young men with rural backgrounds, all corralled by Rickey's sterling scouting network. "They horsed around more [than older players], cut up with hillbilly songs and musical instruments," recalled Musial in his autobiography, Stan Musial: "The Man's" Own Story. "I never had the courage to try my harmonica outside my hotel room, but I could make my share of noise with the slide whistle and coat hanger. I always thought it helped to laugh it up before a game, not to become too tense." The Cardinals laughed their way through the National League, surprising everyone by winning 106 games, including forty-three of their final fifty-two. In the World Series, the New York Yankees were heavy favorites, but the Cardinals rolled by them in five games, though Musial hit only .222.

Chronology

1920 Born December 20 in Donora, Pennsylvania
1937 Hones opposite-field stroke playing in park with short left field fence
1938 Begins professional career as pitcher for Class D Williamson
1939 Career saved when he is moved to outfield to replace injured player
1941 Makes Major League debut for St. Louis
1942 Leads Cardinals to World Series victory over New York Yankees
1945 Serves in U.S. Navy as ship repairman at Pearl Harbor
1946 Returns to lead league in hitting and take Cardinals to World Series
1948 Leads National League in nine offensive categories
1949 Opens popular St. Louis restaurant
1958 Has last of sixteen consecutive .300 seasons
1962 At age forty-one, plays left field and hits .330
1963 Retires as an active player and gets two hits in final game
1967 Serves as general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals

Awards and Accomplishments

1942-44, 1946 Plays in World Series
1943-44, 1946-63 National League All-Star
1943, 1946, 1948, 1950-52, 1957 Leads National League in batting average
1943, 1946, 1948 National League Most Valuable Player
1943, 1948, 1951, 1957 The Sporting News National League Player of the Year
1943-44, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952, Leads National League in slugging percentage
1943-44, 1946, 1948-49, 1952 Leads National League in hits
1943-44, 1946, 1948-49, 1952-53 Leads National League in doubles
1943-44, 1948-49, 1953, 1957 Leads National League in on-base percentage
1943, 1946, 1948-49, 1951 Leads National League in triples
1946 Leads National League in at-bats
1946, 1948, 1951-52, 1954 Leads National League in runs
1946, 1951, 1957 The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year
1948, 1956 Leads National League in runs batted in
1953 Leads National League in walks
1954 On June 2, becomes first major leaguer to hit five home runs in a doubleheader
1964 Named director of the National Council on Physical Fitness
1969 Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame
1972 Poland's Merited Champions Medal
2000 Named to Major League Baseball's All-Century team

Led by Musial's hitting, the Cardinals won the National League pennant again in 1943, and Musial hit.357 to win the first of his seven league batting championships.

He also led the league in slugging percentage (.562), on-base percentage (.425), hits (220), doubles (48), and triples (20), and was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the National League. In the World Series, however, the Yankees turned the tables and beat St. Louis. The following year, Musial hit .347 and led the league in on-base and slugging percentages, hits (197), and doubles (51). The Cardinals won their third straight league pennant and lost the World Series to the St. Louis Browns, with Musial hitting .304 in the series.

In 1945 Musial was drafted and joined the Navy but he was saved from combat duty. He served as a mechanic on a ship repair unit at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and played baseball every afternoon to entertain other servicemen and women. The Cardinals missed Musial during the 1945 season and finished in second place.

With World War II over, Musial returned in 1946 and led the Cardinals to yet another pennant. St. Louis had finished first in each of Musial's first four full seasons, but they would never do so again throughout his long career. He again led the league in batting with a .365 average, and also topped the league in slugging, hits (228), runs (124), doubles (50), and triples (20). He was again named the league's MVP. Musial, who was a competent but not spectacular outfielder, was shifted from left field to first base, and played most of his games at his new position. In the World Series, the Cardinals faced the Boston Red Sox, and the matchup featured a showdown between each league's best hitterMusial and Boston's Ted Williams . Neither slugger hit much in the series (Williams batted .200 and Musial .222) but the Cardinals won the series in seven games. It would be Musial's last appearance in a World Series.

Stan the Man

Musial acquired the nickname "Stan the Man" from Brooklyn Dodgers fans who would groan when he came up to bat with runners on base, yelling: "Oh no! Here comes that man again." Because he concentrated so much and was such an apt learner, "Stan the Man" was very difficult for pitchers to figure out. He rarely was fooled on a pitch. "If I freed my mind of all distracting thoughts, I could tell what a pitch was going to be when it got about halfway to the plate," Musial wrote in his autobiography. He told the Sporting News : "I had a sixth sense. I don't know what else you call it, but it never deceived me." Musial feasted on fastballs, and always seemed to know when one was coming. But early in his career pitchers started throwing him breaking pitches, and he learned how to hit them too.

Musial didn't look like a fence-busting hitter. He dug his left foot into the back line of the batter's box and crouched down in a drastically closed stance. He held his bat back until the last possible moment, then unwound like a corkscrew and quickly slashed at the ball with the thin-handled, lightweight bats he preferred to use (he would scrape the bats to make the handles even thinner). He punched many of his hits to the opposite field, but he was impossible to defense. He might deliver a blooping single to any field, a screaming line drive down either foul line or up the gap for a double or triple, or a wicked liner at an infielderand most opposing infielders quivered when he came to bat. He was a very tough man to strike out; he never had more than forty strikeouts in a season and for his career averaged one strikeout for every 158 at-bats. Although he was not primarily a power hitter, he ended up with 475 career home runs because his prodigious line drives often cleared the fences. He feasted on all types of pitching and always relaxed mentally and physically before entering the batter's box. Disciplined and consistent, Musial rarely fell into slumps and was reliably productive.

In 1947, Musial "slipped" to a .312 averagemostly because he suffered from appendicitis and put off surgery until the season's endand spent the entire year playing first base. It was the only time during his first twelve full seasons that he failed to lead the league in any offensive category. In 1948, Musial switched back to left field and had his best season. He led the league with 230 hits, forty-six doubles, eighteen triples, 135 runs, 131 runs batted in, a .376 batting average, .450 on-base percentage, and .702 slugging percentage. These were all his career best marks except for the doubles and triples. It was one of the most dominating seasons in baseball history, and it included thirty-nine home runsone short of league leader Johnny Mize. Musial had a home run taken away from him when one of his blasts hit a speaker at Philadelphia's Shibe Park, bounced back on the field, and was ruled a double. Another home run came in a game that was rained out before completion, so it also did not count. In recognition of his achievements, Musial was named the league's MVP for the third time.

Baseball Ambassador

In 1949, Musial opened his own restaurant in St. Louis. In a few years he had become one of the city's most prominent figures, and he would remain an outstanding citizen long after his playing career ended. Generally quiet, as a player he avoided controversy and stayed out of the public eye. He never was thrown out of a game. But when the Cardinals tried to take advantage of his easygoing nature to keep down his salary, he fought back by staging several holdouts during spring training. In those days, with players bound by the reserve clause which tied them to teams for life, it was the only weapon players had to leverage their salaries.

In the era after World War II, many "franchise" players stayed with teams for their entire careers. Many of these stalwarts played away from the media spotlight, in the working class towns of middle America. Besides Musial, they included Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers, Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, and Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates. None of these steady performers achieved the status of nationally known superstars. If Musial had played in New York, he would have been known widely as the greatest hitter of his generation. As it was, he was content to let his play speak for itself.

Career Statistics

Yr Team AVG GP AB R H HR RBI BB SO SB E
STL: St. Louis Cardinals.
1941 STL .426 12 47 8 20 1 7 2 1 1 0
1942 STL .315 140 467 87 147 10 72 62 25 6 5
1943 STL .357 157 617 108 220 13 81 72 18 9 7
1944 STL .347 146 568 112 197 12 94 90 28 7 5
1946 STL .365 156 624 124 228 16 103 73 31 7 15
1947 STL .312 149 587 113 183 19 95 80 24 4 8
1948 STL .376 155 611 135 230 39 131 79 34 7 7
1949 STL .338 157 612 128 207 36 123 107 38 3 3
1950 STL .346 146 555 105 192 28 109 87 36 5 8
1951 STL .355 152 578 124 205 32 108 98 40 4 10
1952 STL .336 154 578 105 194 21 91 96 29 7 5
1953 STL .337 157 593 127 200 30 113 105 32 3 5
1954 STL .330 153 591 120 195 35 126 103 39 1 5
1955 STL .319 154 562 97 179 33 108 80 39 5 9
1956 STL .310 156 594 87 184 27 109 75 39 2 8
1957 STL .351 134 502 82 176 29 102 66 34 1 10
1958 STL .337 135 472 64 159 17 62 72 26 0 13
1959 STL .255 115 341 37 87 14 44 60 25 0 7
1960 STL .275 116 331 49 91 17 63 41 34 1 3
1961 STL .288 123 372 46 107 15 70 52 35 0 1
1962 STL .330 135 433 57 143 19 82 64 46 3 4
1963 STL .255 124 337 34 86 12 58 35 43 2 4
TOTAL .331 3026 10972 1949 3630 475 1951 1599 696 78 142

And his numbers speak volumes. Besides his seven batting titles, Musial led the National League in slugging percentage six times, in on-base percentage six times, in hits six times, in doubles eight times, in triples five times, in runs five times, in RBIs twice, and in walks once. For sixteen consecutive seasons, from 1942 through 1958, he batted over .300 (not including his short stint in 1941)only Ty Cobb had a longer streak of.300 batting averages.

After failing to hit .300 in 1959, Musial considered retiring. The Cardinals had a new young first baseman, Bill White. But Musial's bat was still potent. "I was having too much fun hitting to want to quit," Musial recalled in his autobiography. Instead, he switched back to left field and played four more seasons, though sitting out frequently because of age and injuries. At age 41, in 1962, he hit .330 with nineteen home runs and eighty-two RBIs. Following the 1963 season, he hung up his spikes after twenty-two years with St. Louis. On the last day of the season, he was honored in pre-game ceremonies and gave a speech, then had two hits in the game.

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson named Musial the director of the National Council on Physical Fitness. In 1967, Musial served one season as general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. With his friend Red Schoendienst as manager, the Cardinals won the National League championship and beat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.

In 1969, Musial was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Like Williams, Musial was a consummate hitter who lacked the speed and defensive abilities to be considered as one of the greatest all-round players in baseball history. But it could be argued that Musial was a more accomplished pure hitter than Williams, who is usually considered the game's best hitter. In almost every offensive category, Musial has much higher all-time totals than Williams. Musial is fourth all-time in career hits with 3,630, eighth in runs scored with 1,949 (Williams had 1,798), third in doubles with 725, fifth in RBIs (1,951), second in total bases (6,134), second in extra-base hits (1,377), sixth in games played (3,026), ninth in at-bats (10,972), and 11th in walks (1,599). Musial is tied for 19th in triples with 177, but he is first in triples among players who played after World War II. And since Musial stopped playing, only Tony Gwynn retired with a higher career batting average than Musial's .331.

After his retirement from playing, Musial became one of baseball's greatest ambassadors. He appeared frequently at the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and at other important baseball events. When Busch Stadium opened, local baseball writers held a testimonial dinner for Musial and raised $40,000 to erect a statue of him outside the ballpark. The statue says: "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight."

Musial continued to express gratitude for his long career. "I was a poor boy who struck it rich in many ways through the wonders of baseball," he said in his autobiography. "I believe baseball was a great game, is a great game, and will be a great game."

Man to Man

"I could always hit. I learned to hit with a broomstick and a ball of tape and I could always get that bat on the ball. One great asset for me (as a youngster) was we had a small right field with a hill over it, and we had only one ball and our left field had a hillside, and I learned how to hit to the opposite field by accident. That's a great asset, to be able to hit that ball to the opposite field. It came natural to me, and early in my years I hit to the opposite field. I waited a little longer and hit the ball to left field, so I guess I was a natural hitter."

Source: Stan Musial, in an interview with The Sporting News. (July 28, 1997): 8.

Where Is He Now?

Stan Musial has remained one of St. Louis's civic treasures. In his early 80s, though retired from active management of his famous restaurant, Stan Musial and Biggie's, Musial continues to make frequent visits there. Visiting sports stars and other celebrities often will make a pilgrimage there, and Musial holds court. As he's done all his life, he freely gives autographs and pauses to talk with anyone who wishes to greet him.

Musial spends most of his time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He also has countless friends in St. Louis and still frequently donates his time to charities and civic events, such as the Stan Musial Golf Classic, which benefits a local helping organization, Covenant House. Musial remains active at Major League Baseball functions and with the St. Louis Cardinals. He frequently attends the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York, and is often present at Cardinals home games.

SELECTED WRITINGS BY MUSIAL:

(With Bob Broeg) Stan Musial: "The Man's" Own Story, as told to Bob Broeg, Doubleday, 1964.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Books

The Baseball Encyclopedia. New York: Macmillan, 1997.

Broeg, Bob, and Stan Musial. Stan Musial: "The Man's" Own Story, as told to Bob Broeg. New York: Doubleday, 1964.

Thorn, John and Pete Palmer. Total Baseball. New York: Warner Books, 1989.

Periodicals

American Heritage (October 1992).

Boys'Life (August 1999).

"Living Legends." Sports Illustrated. July 30, 2001.

"The Naturals: Stan Musial, Tony Gwynn." Sporting News (July 28, 1997).

"Stan Musial: 1948: a season worth another look." Baseball Research Journal (2001): 99.

Other

baseball-reference.com. http://www.baseball-reference.com (November 7, 2002).

"Musial was gentleman killer." ESPN classic. http://espn.go.com/classic/biography/s/Musial_Stan.html. (November 7, 2002).

"Stan Musial." baseball library.com. http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/M/Musial_Stan.stm. (November 7, 2002).

"Stan Musial." The Baseball Page.com. http://www.thebaseballpage.com/past/pp/musialstan/default.htm. (November 7, 2002).

Sketch by Michael Betzold

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Stan Musial

Stan Musial

Stan Musial (born 1920), one of baseball's greatest hitters, enjoyed an extraordinary career with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941 through 1963. Called "Stan the Man" because of his intimidating presence at the plate, Musial won seven batting championships and three Most Valuable Player awards.

Accommodating to fans and the media both during and after his playing career, Musial was considered one of the game's most gentlemanly and down-to-earth ambassadors. He came from rural Pennsylvania, never graduated from high school, and sometimes stammered in public. His love for baseball overcame all obstacles, however, and he became known nationwide as a symbol of batting excellence. "I was a poor boy who struck it rich in many ways through the wonders of baseball," Musial said in his autobiography.

Meteoric Rise

The Cardinals' greatest player was born Stanislaus Musial in Donora, a mill town in southwestern Pennsylvania's Monongahela Valley on December 21, 1920. His father, Lukasz Musial, was a shy Polish immigrant who worked in the shipping department of a local mill. The parents of his mother, Mary Lancos, had migrated from Czechoslovakia, and her father was a coal miner. Mary and Lukasz Musial had four girls before their son, Stanislaus, was born in 1920. Stan also had a younger brother, who played minor league baseball after World War II.

Musial, a bashful boy, became interested in baseball because he had a neighbor who played semi-pro ball. "I could always hit," Musial told the Sporting News. "I learned to hit with a broomstick and a ball of tape and I could always get that bat on the ball." Musial, who batted and threw left-handed, acquired the habit of hitting to the opposite field while playing for the Donora Zinc Works team in 1937. At the hometown field, trolley tracks shortened the distance to the left-field fence, so Musial tried to aim that way. The ability to go the opposite way became one of his greatest weapons.

Musial was 16 and a flame-throwing but erratic pitcher when he signed his first professional contract. Pittsburgh never courted him. Instead, he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals, whose owner Branch Rickey was known for his scouting system. In the winter of 1937-1938, Musial starred on Donora High School's basketball team. The next two summers he pitched for Williamson, WV, in the Class D Mountain States League of the low minors. In 1939, the Williamson manager, Harrison Wickel, reported to the Cardinals that Musial, who had struck out 85 batters and walked 84 others in 91 innings, was the wildest pitcher he had ever seen. He recommended Musial be released. But an injury to an outfielder forced Musial into the lineup, and he batted .352.

After the 1939 season, Musial married his high school sweetheart, Lillian Labash. They would have an enduring marriage and four children: son Dick and daughters Gerry, Janet and Jeanie.

In 1940, playing for Class D Daytona Beach in the Florida State League, Musial hit .311, playing the outfield between pitching assignments. During one game he injured his shoulder trying to make a diving catch in center field. It ruined his pitching arm, and his career seemed in jeopardy. But the Cardinals organization had recognized his remarkable hitting ability.

In 1941, Musial went from being an unknown, minor league player to a hitter who won a regular job in the major leagues. He was quickly promoted from Class C Springfield (Missouri), where he hit .379 with 24 home runs in 87 games, to Class B Rochester (New York). After Rochester finished its season, Musial was called up to St. Louis. He had six hits in a doubleheader and hit .426 in 12 games. No one ever asked him to pitch again.

The Cardinals' Man

The next season, Musial was installed in left field for the Cardinals. At 21, he was the youngest player on a youthful, carefree squad. "There were more small-town and farm boys then and fewer college men," Musial recalled in his autobiography, Stan Musial: "The Man's" Own Story. "They horsed around more, cut up with hillbilly songs and musical instruments. … I never had the courage to try my harmonica outside my hotel room, but I could make my share of noise with that slide whistle and coat hanger. I always thought it helped to laugh it up before a game, not to become too tense."

Led by Musial's hot bat, the loose, inexperienced Cardinals surprised everyone by winning 106 games, including 43 of their last 52, to claim the National League pennant. Then St. Louis beat the favored Yankees in the World Series, and Musial was on a world championship team in his first full season.

Musial was disliked by Brooklyn Dodgers' fans, who bestowed his nickname. Groaning when he came up to bat in key situations, they would yell: "Oh no. Here comes that Man again." From then on, he was always "Stan the Man." Musial didn't find out till after he retired that Dodgers' shortstop, Pee Wee Reese, often used to steal his bat before games.

Musial had an unorthodox batting stance. He crouched down to make the strike zone smaller, held his hands back until the last possible instant, and punched many of his hits the opposite way. "A lot of guys saw my hitting style and said I'd never hit in the big leagues," Musial recalled. In fact, Musial feasted on all types of pitching. "I learned early to hit the curveball," Musial wrote in his autobiography. "From the beginning I was a natural fastball hitter, so they started throwing me curves, so many of them that I sharpened up against the breaking ball."

Musial contended that the most important aspects of hitting were relaxation and concentration. "It's necessary to have mental tenacity at the plate, but to avoid physical tension," he wrote. "If I freed my mind of all distracting thoughts, I could tell what a pitch was going to be when it got about halfway to the plate." In a later interview, Musial told the Sporting News he could always tell when a pitcher was going to throw him a fastball, his favorite pitch to hit: "I had a sixth sense. I don't know what else you call it, but it never deceived me."

The Cardinals had been a decent team, but with Musial batting third in the lineup they became a perennial power-house. Led by Musial's league-leading .357 average in 1943 and his .347 mark in 1944, the Cardinals won two more pennants during years when baseball's player ranks were being depleted by World War II. The Cardinals lost the World Series to the Yankees in 1943 and to their cross-town rivals, the St. Louis Browns, in 1944.

Musial was drafted in 1945, joined the Navy, and served on a ship repair unit in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He played baseball every afternoon on a base team to entertain service personnel. Without Musial, the Cardinals faltered in 1945. Musial returned in 1946 and resumed his incredible hitting, leading the league with a .365 mark and taking St. Louis to the World Series again. The Cardinals defeated Boston in a thrilling seven-game series billed as a showdown between Musial and Red Sox slugger, Ted Williams, to whom Musial was often compared. The Cardinals would never win another pennant during Musial's long tenure, though they came close several times.

In 1948, Musial had his best year, batting .376 with 39 home runs and 131 runs batted in and a league-leading .702 slugging percentage. That year, he became the first National League player to win the Most Valuable Player award three times. Musial was a hitting machine-dependable and productive. He excelled at the two most important aspects of batting-getting on base and driving in runners. He liked light, thin-handled bats that he could whip around quickly. He would scrape the handles all season to thin the bats even more. Players around the league feared his screaming line drives.

Quiet and shy, Musial kept his opinions to himself. He generally stayed away from controversy. But when the Cardinals took advantage of his easygoing demeanor to hold down his salary, he staged several holdouts. Baseball experts agreed he and Williams were the best hitters of their era, and two of the best in baseball history. However, compared to later players like Mickey Mantle, who spent their careers in the New York limelight, Musial was relatively underpaid and under-recognized by the public.

Enjoyed the Game

Playing outside a major media market throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s, Musial symbolized the workaday ballplayer who loved baseball and delighted loyal fans with his steady play. He became an institution in St. Louis, opening a restaurant in 1949 and remaining in the public eye throughout his career and after his retirement.

In May 1954, Musial hit five home runs in a doubleheader at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. About that time, Musial, never blessed with great speed, began playing more games at first base than in the outfield. He was never known as an outstanding fielder, but he worked hard to become an adequate one. His hitting, however, overshadowed all else. For 16 consecutive seasons, Musial batted over .300. Only Ty Cobb had more years in a row hitting .300. Musial led the National League in hitting seven times, and only Cobb and Honus Wagner won more batting titles.

After he failed to hit .300 in 1959, Musial considered retirement. However, to the surprise of many, he played four more seasons, getting frequent rests to nurse a myriad of injuries. He returned to the outfield to make room for first baseman Bill White. In 1962, at the age of 41, Musial played left field and hit .330. "I was having too much fun hitting to want to quit," Musial recalled.

In 1963, his last season, Musial contributed as the Cardinals mounted a furious drive at the end of the season. He hit his last major league home run to tie the score in a key game against the Dodgers, but the Cardinals' pennant bid fell short. In his last day as a Cardinals player, Musial had two hits after being honored in pre-game ceremonies. "My heart is filled with thanks for so many who made these 22 years possible," he told the crowd.

Musial finished with 1,951 runs batted in, fourth on the all-time list, and with 6,134 total bases, second-highest in history. He also ranked in the Top Ten in career hits (3,630), runs scored (1,949), doubles (725), walks (1,599), and games (3,026). Though not a bona fide power hitter, he finished with 475 home runs. He led the league in hits six times, in doubles eight times, in triples five times, in runs five times, and in runs batted in twice.

Retirement

After his retirement, "Stan the Man" remained a popular figure in St. Louis, running his restaurant and speaking frequently. When the Cardinals opened a new stadium, local baseball writers staged a testimonial dinner and raised $40,000 to erect a statue of Musial at the ballpark. In 1969, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. His career had spanned the era from before World War II to the 1960s. "I believe I played in the most exciting era of baseball," Musial recalled in his autobiography. "I saw the game change from day to night, from regional to national, from long train trips to short plane flights, from cabbage leaves under the cap in hot weather to air-conditioned dugouts….

"I say baseball was a great game, is a great game, and will be a great game. I'm extremely grateful for what it has given me-in recognition and records, thrills and satisfaction, money and memories. I hope I've given nearly as much as I've gotten from it."

Further Reading

Broeg, Bob, and Stan Musial, Stan Musial: "The Man's" Own Story, as told to Bob Broeg, Doubleday, 1964.

American Heritage, October 1992.

Sporting News, July 28, 1997. □

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"Stan Musial." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved July 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stan-musial

Musial, Stanley Frank

Stanley Frank Musial (myōō´zēəl), 1920–2013, American baseball player, b. Donora, Pa. At 17 he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League. After three years in the minor leagues, he joined (1941) the Cardinals, playing outfielder and first base for the team for the rest of his career. One of the game's great hitters, "Stan the Man" won the National League batting championship seven times (1943, 1946, 1948, 1950–52, 1957) and the league's Most Valuable Player award three times (1943, 1946, 1948). In 1963 he retired with a lifetime batting average of .331. He hit 475 career home runs and for many years held the National League record for base hits (3,630) until it was broken (1981) by Pete Rose. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

See biography by G. Vecsey (2011).

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"Musial, Stanley Frank." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/musial-stanley-frank

Musial, Stan

Musial, Stan ( Stanley Frank) (1920– ) US baseball player. “Stan the Man” played for the St Louis Cardinals (1941–44, 1946–63) and compiled a record 3,630 hits (broken in 1981 by Pete Rose). He hit a total of 475 home runs and had a.331 lifetime batting average. He was three times Most Valuable Player (1943, 1946 and 1948) and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

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"Musial, Stan." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/musial-stan