Stan Musial

The 2013 MLB has begun and the standings are off to an early start. There have been many stories already taking form, but I want to talk about one of them. That is the great “Stan the Man,” Stan Musial. In St. Louis on Monday, April 8th, the St. Louis Cardinals had their home opener for the 2013 season. As usual they opened the doors with their cherished Hall of Famers making in entrance. However, they were missing one of their finest ball players ever to put on a Cardinals uniform, Stan the Man. It was a day to remember one of the greats of the game. In remembrance of Stan Musial the Cardinals will where a patch on their uniform to show their respect for the entire season. Along with a fence decal with the number 6 and Stan’s signature in left-center field.

With Stan being one of the best baseball hitters of all time, and a less talked about player. I wanted to do some more research on him and share what I found, with those of you who have never heard or new much about the great Stan Musial. Musial was born in 1920 in Donora, Pennsylvania. He was the 4 child of 6 and the oldest boy. Growing up he played a lot of baseball with his brother Ed and was able to learn a lot about pitching from his neighbor Joe Barabo, who was a minor league player. When Musial was 15 years old he was able to play for the Donora Zincs, who were a semi pro baseball team managed by his neighbor Joe Barabo. He pitched very well with the adult league, in his debut he pitched 6 innings and struck out 13, which is pretty awesome going against adults in their prime. One interesting fact is that Stan played on the same team with Ken Griffey Jr.’s Grandpa, Buddy Griffey. Buddy was also compared to Stan and how they both were great left handed hitters.

Stan was a very gifted athlete and also had a scholarship to play basketball for the University of Pittsburgh, however he turned that down once he got approval from his father to pursue his baseball career. The St. Luis Cardinals first scouted Musial as a pitcher, and offered him a contract, however it was not filed until he was done with his high school sports. Later that year, Musial joined Cardinals Class D Williamson Red Birds, in West Virgina. There he entered his rookie year putting up average numbers, he went 6-6 as a pitcher with a 4.66 earned run average. He only batted .258 for the season. The next season upon completing his high school diploma his skills improved tremendously posting a pitching record of 9-2 with a 4.30 ERA and had a batting average of .352.

The farm system is tough for most players, it was even a struggle for Stan. In 1940, Stan met a life long friend in manager Dickie Kerr. Kerr, taught him how to pitch. Stan also got married that year and also welcomed their first child. Amongst all of the recent changes, Stan injured himself while playing in the outfield. The injury kept him out of the game and Stan could barely support his family, and he almost quit the game entirely if it was not for Kerr talking him out of it. Kerr let the Musial’s stay at his home to prevent financial burden. Many years later Stan payed Kerr back by purchasing a $20,000 home for him. That year Stan finished 18-5 pitching record and a .311 batting average.

At the beginning of the 1941 season, Musial reported to Class AA Columbus Red Birds. Right away Musial and his manager knew that his arm was very weak from his injury a year before. He was then sent to Class C Springfield Cardinals as a full time outfielder. At that point Musial only got better at hitting, he had a unique batting stance and hit for a very high average. He was finally called up to the Majors for the last two weeks of the season. Once called up, that’s all it took and he was off to the record books. Stan was used as an outfielder/first baseman, he had only pitched once during a publicity stunt, manager Eddie Stanky had Stan pitch to Frank Baumholtz, who was runner up to Musial for the batting title that season. Frank hit the ball so hard it hit of the third baseman’s shin. It did not go well and after that he decided never to pitch again.



Major League Years

During Stan Musial’s 23 MLB playing career, he put up some mind blowing numbers. And is considered to be one of the best baseball players to have ever played the game.


Career Stats

Batting Average: .331Ranks 30th all time
Hits: 3,630Ranks 4th all time
Home Runs: 475Ranks 29th all time
RBI’s: 1,951 – Ranks 6th all time

7x   NL Batting Champion,   3x  World Series Champ,   3x  NL MVP.


From 1941 and on, Stan Musial put up his Hall of Fame numbers, and while doing so he was a classy ball player on and off the field. By 1942 he had his first World Series ring, In 1943 he was elected to his first All-Star game, and also took home his first NL MVP award. That year they fell to the Yankees in the World Series. Stan was drafted to the war in 1944 and did not have to report until after the season. Musial ended up winning his second World Series against the Browns, another St. Louis team. Musial entered the Navy in 1945 for a 15 month career. He did a variety of noncombat jobs, worked at Pearl Harbor on ship repair, and worked briefly for a Navy yard before his honorable discharge.

When returning to Major League Baseball in 1946, Stan Musial got his nick name “Stan the Man.” It has happened during a game at Ebbets Field against the Dodgers, where Dodger fans were chanting “here comes the man!” Once Bob Broeg the post-dispatch sportswriter got word of what the fans were calling Stan Musial, he wrote it in his column and from then on his nick name was “Stan the Man.” One interesting fact was that Stan turned down a $125,000, 5 year contract to play in the Mexican League. St. Louis acted fast and gave him a raise of $5,000 for a total of $18,500 a year in 1946. In June of 1946, Cardinals Manager moved Musial to first base, that year the Cardinals took home the World Series, he also won his 2nd NL MVP Award.

In 1947 Musial was hitting very poorly with an average of .146 in April. In may a team doctor Dr. Robert Hyland confirmed that Musial had appendicitis, while finding out that he was suffering from tonsillitis. Even with his health problems Musial finished the year with a .312 batting average. When the year was through he had his appendix and tonsils removed. In 1948, Stan Musial once again won the NL MVP with some staggering numbers and was a home run away from taking home the Triple Crown.


During the late 40’s when baseball began to be integrated, Musial was a player that did not mind races coming together to play the game of baseball. Just another man that enjoyed equality and stood up for the movement of equal rights. In the prime of his career Ty Cobb had this to say about Stan Musial. “No man has ever been a perfect ballplayer. Stan Musial, however, is the closest to being perfect in the game today…. He plays as hard when his club is away out in front of a game as he does when they’re just a run or two behind.”
—Ty Cobb, in a 1952 Life magazine article.

In 1950’s Stan Musial had his longest hitting streak of his career of 30 consecutive games. In 1953 the Cardinals franchise was up for sale. Musial advised his friend Gussie Busch to buy the team. After tossing around the idea, Busch used his money from Anheuser-Busch company to purchase the Cardinals. Keeping the team in St. Louis. The end of the season in 1953 marked the 12th consecutive time Musial hit for a average of .300 or better, and the 10th time voted to the All-Star game. That is some pretty impressive numbers for only being 33 years old. In 1954, Musial reached incredible status when he hit 5 home runs in a double hitter, and accounting for 21 total bases, it has only happened one time since and that was by Nate Colbert, he also hit 5 home runs in a double header. In 1956, there were talks that GM “Trader Frank” Lane of the Cardinals was planning on trading Stan, when Owner Gussie Busch caught wind of that, he made it clear that Musial was not up for trade.

On June 11, 1957, Musial tied the NL record of most consecutive games played with 822, he went on to break the record for a few more months. Months later be fractured a bone in his shoulder bringing the streak to an end at 895 games played.

In 1958, Musial became one of the first baseball players to sign a contract of $100,000 in NL history, that is approximately $790,000 in 2013. Hank Greenberg was the first to sign for over $100k in 1947. He also hit his 3000th hit in at Wrigley Field in Chicago as a pinch hitter. He was the first of eight players to hit his 3000th hit as an extra base hit. When arriving home on at the train station he was greeted by over 1,000 fans.

Getting older, Stan had permission to arrive late to spring training in 1959. Maybe this is when the trend started for older players to miss out some of spring training, the idea is to save the players health to help them last the entire season. Musial standing 6 feet tall showed up at 190lb’s, 10lbs over weight and was struggling at the plate. However he did reach his 400th home run and it made him the first person to have 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. The 1959 season was one of his worst, reporting a .255 batting average, 37 runs and a slugging percentage of .428. The following season Musial took a 20,000 pay cut, due to his performance the year before. Wanting to prove that he could still hit he sought out Walter Eberhart, the director of physical education. Speculation began that Musial would retire due to his numbers going down and down. He ended up finishing the year with a .275 batting average, still not very good compared to Musials standards. The next couple of years were average for Musial, then we hit a spike. In 1962, he hit .330avg, 19 home runs, and 82  RBI’s. He was also the first 41 year old player to hit three home runs in one game.

1963 was the year that Stan Musial hung up his cleats and retired. He played the entire 63″ season and made his 24 All-Star Game. One cool fact was that during Musial’s final game he had two hits right by second baseman of the Cincinnati Reds Pete Rose. Pete Rose later went on to beat Musials NL record for most hits in a career. Not only for the NL but for for the whole Major League! At the time of his retirement, Musial held 17 Major League Records, 29 NL Records, and 9 All-Star Records. That is  unheard of and a sign of such dominance. He was the Major League career leader in extra base hits of 1,377, and total bases 6,134. He Led the NL in hits with 3,630, games played 3,026, doubles, 725, RBI’s 1,951. He also finished with 475 home runs, and he never lead the NL in home runs.

Basically when I think of Stan Musial, I picture a player who played the game right, hard and dedicated. I would call him once of the most consistent players of all time. He was never ejected from a game. You could always count on him to come through and get the numbers that you needed from that type of player. He won Three World Series Titles, was elected to 24 All-Star Games, won the NL MVP award 3 times.

Bob Costas had this to say about Musial. “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. … All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being.”


Musial met his wife to be when they were 15 years old in Donora, her name was Lillian Susan Labash. They were later married on May 36, 1940, in a Roman Catholic Church in Daytona Beach, Florida. They had four children, one son and three daughters. They both lived to be 91 and 92 years old and were married for about 72 years.

After Baseball

Immediately after retiring form baseball, Musial was very active in the MLB. He was named the VP of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1963-1966. A interesting fact was from 1964-1967 he served as the Physical Fitness Adviser for the President of the United States. It was a part-time position to help educate Americans about fitness. In 1967, Musial took over as the GM of the Cardinals, that year they won the World Series. Musial’s long time business partner Biggie Garagnani died. After the death of Biggie, Musial had to devote more time to the restaurants and other business endeavors they owned. He stepped down from the GM position to attend to his business matters within a year of taking the position. In 1968 a statue was revealed outside Busch Stadium of Stan Musial to credit his accomplishments. There is a inscribed quote on the statue from former baseball commissioner Ford Frick: “Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.”

Obama Honors Musial

Obama Honors Musial
-Getty Images

The Hall of Fame came ringing to Stan Musial in 1969, by receiving 93.2 percent of the ballots. In 1973 he was the first inductee to the National Polish American Hall of Fame in Orchard Lake Michigan. In 1989 Musial was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. In his home town they named a baseball field after him. Other accolades include: being named tenth of the top 100 Greatest Players of all time, in The Sporting News’ of 1998. He was also voted one of 30 players to the All-Century Team. President Obama awarded Stan Musial the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010. In 2001, baseball statistician Bill James and the saber-metrics movement, which compared players across different era’s. Ranked Musial the tenth greatest player of all time. Sportswriter Jayson Stark said, “I can’t think of any all-time great in any sport who gets left out of more who’s-the-greatest conversations than Stan Musial.” I have to agree with this statement. I never hear anything about Stan Musial, that is what encouraged me to write this article and do some research on him. Stan Musial was a straight up person and an amazing ball player. He was not flashy the way he did things and kept a low profile. He will be deeply missed and we only hope to see more ball players and characters like him.


– Matt Ingle

Credited Sources – Wikipedia


  1. Nice blog, Matt. I really enjoyed reading that.

  2. Good article – If he didn’t go to war, those stats would be even better. He seemed like a great guy and a good role model. I would like to see more players take a pay cut when they have a bad year!

  3. I was a rabid BROOKLYN Dodger fan who never liked to see “the man” at bat in any Dodger-Cardinal game. I believe Red Barber who broadcast Brooklyn Dodger games was a secret (he was supposed to be impartial) fan of Stan Musial. I think Vince Skully would be able to comment further about both Stan Musial and Red Barber.

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