Remembering Stan Musial from the Grandson of a Hall of Fame Pitcher that Couldn’t Get Him Out
Last Saturday, long-time St. Louis Cardinal and one of the best ever to play the game of baseball, Stan Musial, passed away at the age of 92. While Musial may no longer be with us, his legacy and great name will live on.
I never saw Stan Musial play baseball; he retired 25 years before I was born. However, my grandfather, Robin Roberts, faced Musial 209 times and Musial hit .383 with nine homers and 29 RBI off the Hall of Fame righty I call Grandpa. The two were even involved in a trade proposal for one another in 1956, until Musial requested to remain in St. Louis with the Cardinals for his entire career. I grew up down the street from my grandfather and was always eager to hear his stories from his playing career in the golden age of baseball. He would recollect with pinpoint accuracy his battles against some of the greatest players to ever grace a diamond. Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Hank Aaron were some of the names he would mention but he always spoke of ‘Stan the Man’ differently; he spoke of him as a friend.
Stan Musial and my grandfather were All-Star teammates seven times for the National League from 1950-56, and one of my favorite pictures of my grandfather is of he and Musial. When my grandfather wrote his autobiography, My Life in Baseball, also written by C. Paul Rogers, Stan Musial happily wrote the foreword for the book. My grandfather always mentioned how much he respected the way Musial played the game.
If Ted Williams is the greatest hitter in the history of the American League then Stan Musial is certainly the best in National League history books. The argument can be made for either to be at the top of the hitter’s mountain. Musial has something that Williams never achieved though, well three of them to be precise: a World Series title.
His iconic number six Cardinals’ jersey will forever be adorned by St. Louis fans across the country and you would be hard pressed to find anyone to say something negative about ‘Stan the Man’. To the city of St. Louis, Stan Musial is baseball. He had a great attitude on and off the field and was interestingly never thrown out of a single game. He played in nearly 900 straight games and in one of the more odd stats of his career, he finished with 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road, obviously he could hit anywhere.
Even though he had an unorthodox stance, Musial won seven batting titles and three MVP awards (1943, ‘46 and ‘48) and when he retired in 1963, Musial finished with a lifetime average of .331 and on-base percentage of .417, 475 career home runs and 1,951 RBIs. Not bad for guy who started as a pitcher in the minor leagues. In 1948, Musial had one of the greatest non-steroid era seasons ever. He lead the league in nine statistical categories: runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBIs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.
Only four men have ever finished their careers with .330+ average, 400+ home runs, and 1,500+ RBIs: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Stan Musial. That’s obviously one of the most exclusive clubs in the baseball history book.
An intangible factor that goes into Hall of Fame voting, something that some people don’t even realize, is personality. A world-class player and class act off the playing field, Musial is the classic example of what it means to be a Hall of Fame person. There is no better example of a model player than Musial. He is the perfect athlete for any young player to emulate, on and off the field.
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