Stan Musial passed away yesterday. “The Man” was 92 years old and is one of the all-time greatest baseball players that ever lived. I personally always felt that he was under-appreciated as a player and it is a shame that his accomplishments will not be appreciated until his passing. I am going to help you appreciate “The Man” who I always appreciated.
“He could have hit .300 with a fountain pen.”- Joe Garagiola
Musial started playing in the Major Leagues in 1941 and retired in 1963, missing the 1945 season due to military service. After 22 seasons, Musial had a career batting average of .331, with 475 home runs, 1851 runs batted in, 3,630 career hits. His career on-base percentage was .417, slugging percentage was .559 and his on-base plus slugging was .976. However, once you start to break down his accomplishments, you cannot truly appreciate how great of a player he was.
“How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away.” – Broadcaster Vin Scully
Let’s start small. In every year that Musial played from 1943 until his retirement in 1963, he was an all-star. In his final 20 seasons, he was an all-star IN EVERY SINGLE SEASON. He is a three-time Most Valuable Player winner and he finished in the Top 10 of voting ten other times, finishing second a total of four other times.
“Once (Stan) Musial timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy.” – Warren Spahn
Musial led the National league in batting seven times. He batted over .300 a atotal of 17 times. He batted .330 or greater twelve times and batted over .350 five times. Musial never struck out more than 46 times in a season. In thirteen seasons, he had more doubles than strikeouts. He walked more than double the number of times he struck out.
“I’ve had pretty good success with (Stan) Musial by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third.” – Carl Erskine
Musial led the league in hits six times, having more than 200 hits in a season the same number of times. There were four other seasons that Musial had over 180 hits in a season. He had more doubles than any other National Leaguer eight times, having over 40 doubles in a season nine times and 30 or more doubles in a season 16 times.
“I throw him four wide ones then try to pick him off first base.” – Preacher Roe
He drove in over 100 runs in a season ten seasons. His on-base percentage was over .400 fourteen times in a season and had a slugging percentage over .500 sixteen times in a season. Putting those numbers together, his on-base plus slugging percentage was over 1.000 eight times in a season.
“A couple 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.” – President John F. Kennedy
That is what Musial did during his seasons. When you add all of that up, how did his career look in total? In his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, Musial was elected with a 93.2% of the vote. At the time of his vote, that was the 6th highest vote total of all-time (now 19th). In 2000, Musial was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century team along with 33 other outfielders.
“He didn’t hit a homer in his last at-bat; 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. 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.”- Bob Costas
He is 12th all-times in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) player, 9th all-time in WAR for Position Players and 7th all-time for Offinsive WAR. His career .331 batting average is 30th all-time. His career on-base percentage is 22nd all-time, his career slugging percentage was 19th all-time and his on-base plus slugging percentage is 13th of all-time for a career.
“Nobody can be that good. Nobody.” – Former Chicago Cubs Manager Jimmy Wilson
Musial is Top 10 all time with 3,026 games played (6th all-time), 10,972 at-bats (9th all-time) and 12,717 plate appearances (8th all-time). He scored 1,949 runs in hos career (9th all-time). Only Pete Rose, Ty Cobb and Hank Aaron had more career hits (3,630 total, 4th all-time). He is 2nd career all-time in total bases (6.134) behind only Hank Aaron. It keeps going. He is 3rd all-time in doubles, 19th all-time in triples and 28th all-time in home runs (even though he never hit 40 home runs in a season). He was 49 runs batted in short of 2,000 (6th all-time) and was 18th all-time in singles. From 1943 to 1953 except fot 1947, Musial created the most runs in the National League and is 3rd all-time in his career. He also finished 3rd all-time in career extra-base hits and 6th all-time in times on base.
“You wait for a strike, then you knock the shit out of it.” – Stan Musial
Musial had the same number of hits at home as he did on the road (1,815). At the time of his retirement, he held or shared 17 major league records, 29 National League records and 9 All-Star Game records.
“Stan remains, to this day, an icon, untarnished; a beloved pillar of the community; a gentlemen you’d want your kids to emulate.” – President Barack Obama
He was signed in 1938 by the Cardinals as a pitcher. He was converted to an outfielder because he was not good enough as a pitcher. His bat was good enough. His uniform number (6) was retired by the Cardinals in 1963. He was never thrown out of a game for arguing. His statue is outside of Busch Stadium.
“Unless you give it all you’ve got, there isn’t any sense in playing.” – Stan Musial
He placed 2nd in the 1949 MVP voting to Jackie Robinson. He had more runs, hits, home runs, walks and a higher OBP, SLG and OPS than Robinson. He finished 2nd in the 1950 MVP voting to Jim Konstanty (a pitcher) from the Philadephia. In 1950, Musial batter .346, scored over 100 runs, had 192 hits, 28 home runs, 109 runs batted in and had an OPS over 1.000. In 1951, he foinished 2nd to Roy Campanella in the MVP voting. He scored more 124 runs, had over 200 hits, batted .355 and had an OPS over 1.000 again. In 1957, he finished 2nd to Hank Aaron in the MVP voting. Aaron deserved that one.
“”Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.” – Ford Frick
In 1946, while making $13,500 from St. Louis, Musial turned down a 5-year, $125,000 contract with a $50,000 bonus from a team in the Mexican League. He earned the nickname “The Man” in 1946 when fans would chant “Here comes the man” as he stepped to the plate. During the 1947 season, he played through tonsillitis and appendicitis, opting for surgery after the season. He finished with a .312 batting average, 183 hits and 95 runs batted in. In 1948, he became the first player to win three MVP awards and would have won the Triple Crown if not for a rainout (in which he homered). In a 1952 article, Ty Cobb said that Stan Musial was better than Joe DiMaggio in his prime. Musial modestly declined that statement. In 1953, Musial told his friend Gussie Busch to buy the Cardinals when it went on sale. At one point, he held the National League record for consecutive games played.
“I love to play this game of baseball – I love putting on this uniform.” – Stan Musial
If not for military service, he would have retired with over 3,800 hits and could have played a couple of more years and broke the all-time hits record (4,191 by Ty Cobb at that time). Without military service, he would have probably had 500 career home runds and 2,000 career runs batted in. He became the Cardinals General manager in 1967, a won a World Series Championship in that position. He started a babysitting service for player’s wives during that sason so that wives could come to each game and watch their husbands. Musial was an accomplished harmonica player. He would play it every year at the Baseball Hall of Fame inductions. His wife, Lillian, passed away in May of 2012, after 72 years of marriage to Stan.
“We have lost the most beloved member of the Cardinals family. Stan Musial was the greatest player in Cardinals history and one of the best players in the history of baseball. The entire Cardinals organization extends its sincere condolences to Stan’s family, including his children Richard, Gerry, Janet and Jean, as well as his eleven grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. We join fans everywhere in mourning the loss of our dear friend and reflect on how fortunate we all are to have known ‘Stan the Man’.” – Bill DeWitt, Cardinals owner
Take it all in. Re-read all of his accomplishments. Musial was the perfect warrior. Musial was one of the best of all-time. Today, Musial is lacing up his cleats and putting on his Cardinals Number 6 uniform, grabbing his glove and finding a good piece of lumber to swing. As he walks out onto the Field of Dreams, he is looking out and he sees Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg, Cy Young, Ty Cobb and other all-time greats doing what they do best, playing baseball. He is walking out onto the field and he is asking if there is room for one more today.
Off in the distance, Earl Weaver is standng there on the top step of a dugout in his Orioles Number 4 uniform and is telling Musial, “I got you on my team.”
Good bye Stan “The Man” Musial. You will always be appreciated.