It’s been a truly sad day for baseball. First came the passing of Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver.
Now St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan Musial is gone too. He was 92.
Musial played 22 seasons, won 7 NL batting titles, collected 100 or more RBI ten times, won three NL MVPs, three World Series rings and a 24 time NL All-Star.
In all, Musial had 3,630 hits – 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road. For many years, Musial was second only to Ty Cobb on the all-time hits list. He would eventually be passed by Hank Aaron and Pete Rose.
He earned his moniker Stan the Man not from Cardinals fans but from Brooklyn Dodgers fans. Musial did so much damage against Dodger pitching the fans at Ebbets Field would say, “There goes that Man again.”
Musial was known for his sunny disposition. When asked why he smiled all the time, Stan the Man said, “If you knew you were going to hit .340 every year, you would smile too.”
In 1967, Musial served as Cardinals GM. They won the World Series that year. Two years later, Musial was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
A couple of years ago, George Vecsey released Stan Musial: An American Life. Vecsey’s biography did not do Musial justice.
In 2011, Musial was bestowed with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in probably his finest act in office.
When I think of Stan the Man, I think of when my Dad and his friends met him and other members of the Cardinals at the Polo Grounds in 1955 when a Sunday doubleheader was rained out. Radio personality Bill Stern happened upon them and before you knew it Dad and his friends were in the Cardinals clubhouse. Dad asked Musial about the wiggle in his batting stance.
To give you an idea of the reverence in which Musial is held, when the Los Angeles Angels embarked on a marketing campaign describing Albert Pujols as “El Hombre” prior to the start of last season, the ex-Cardinal said “God is the Man and there’s another Man, Stan.” Now that’s rarified company.