When you think of the All-Time greatest Major League baseball players who do you think of? I’m sure Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Lou Gehrig come to mind. All of these players are considered to be the greatest to ever play the game but there is one legend that a lot of people over look or probably just have never heard of and his name is Stan “The Man” Musial. Stan was born on November 21, 1920 in Donora, Pennsylvania. His parents were Lukasz and Mary Musial. His mother was of Czech descent and his father was a Polish immigrant. Musial frequently played baseball with his brother Ed and other friends during his childhood. Musial also had the benefit of learning about baseball from his neighbor Joe Barbao who was a former minor league pitcher. At age 15 Musial joined the Donora Zincs, a semi-professional team managed by Barbao. In his debut he pitched 6 innings and struck out 13 batters, all of them adults. Musial also played one season with the Donora High School baseball team. He also played basketball for Donora and he was even offered a scholarship from the University of Pittsburgh. Meanwhile the St. Louis Cardinals had scouted him as a pitcher and in 1937 offered him a professional contract, which he later accepted.
After he accepted the contract he spent three years with Cardinals class D team the Williamson Red Birds and Class AA Columbus Red Birds. On September 17, 1941 Musial made his major league debut. He finally got his chance and he definitely didn’t waste it. Musial went on to play for 22 seasons never getting thrown out of one game. He had a career batting average of .331, he had 3,630 hits, 475 home runs, and 1,951 runs batted in. Musial was a 24 time All-Star, 3 time World Series champion, 3 time NL MVP, 7 time NL batting champion, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969 as a first ballot Hall of Famer. Stan played in his last game on September 29, 1963, he finished right where he left off with a hit of course but this hit was a foreshowing of what was to come. Musial’s last hit in his career was hit past the Cincinnati Reds first baseman at the time, Pete Rose, who would later break Musial’s National League hit record and later break Cobb’s record to become the all time hit king. Musial then retired after the 1963 season. After he retired Musial was named a vice president of the St. Louis Cardinals in September of 1963, and he remained in that position until after the 1966 season.
Before the 1967 season began, the Cardinals named Musial the team’s general manager, and he oversaw the club’s World Series championship that year. Through the 1990s, he frequently played the harmonica at public gatherings, such as the annual Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony and various charity events. Musial died on January 19, 2013 in his home in Ladue, Missouri. After he died another Cardinal great Albert Pujols had this to say about his passing. “It was such a sad day, but I am so blessed to have spent time with him the last 12 years. He blessed my life and many, many lives in baseball during his career, and after his career. He touched so many lives. He means as much as Roberto Clemente does to Latin people. Thank God I had the opportunity to know him.
Pujols also says, “I wish my kids had the opportunity to be around him, because that’s how I want my kids to live their lives. I want them to be like Stan Musial.”Not the baseball player. The person. That’s the respect I have for that man.” Stan wasn’t just known for being “The Man” on the field but he was just as much of a man off the field as well. After he retired Musial didn’t just fall off the face of the earth like most ball players do, he stayed in St. Louis and hosted golf tournaments, worked with the boys and girls club of St. Louis and helped raise money for baseball fields and equipment all over the city.
He was always around the team. Anytime there was a Cardinal event, parade, retirement or just a big game at Busch Stadium Stan Musial was there. He didn’t just sit in the team box and waved to the crowd either. Stan Musial was a real person who always took time to walk around the stadium, shake hands and sign anything. In conclusion, Stan Musial to me isn’t just one of the greatest baseball players of all-time he was one of the greatest men of all-time. He is someone that I look up to not just as a baseball player but as a person as well. He’s the reason I wear the number 6 because every time I put that jersey on I remind myself of Stan and how he played the game and that’s how I want to play. Just. Like. The Man.
Courtney from Study Moose
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