Saturday, February 16, 2013

Goodbye to "Stan the Man"

On January 19th of this year, the world of baseball received sad news with the passing of former Cardinal great Stan Musial. Mild-mannered and humble, Musial lacked the media presence of baseball's highest profile superstars despite the fact that he ranks with the best of them. Because he was so unassuming, he has not always received the credit he deserves.

But his career statistics speak volumes...

Musial was the first player to reach 400 homers and 3,000 hits. At the time of his retirement, he held the all time mark for total bases. Only Ty Cobb had collected more hits. Additionally, Musial set records for runs scored, doubles and RBI's (since broken). He accomplished all this despite missing a full season in his prime to military service.

A three-time MVP, "Stan the Man" won 7 batting titles and hit .330 or better thirteen times during his career. His lifetime mark of .331 is among the top 30 totals of all time. With the exception of the year he spent in the armed forces during WWII, he was named to the All-Star team every year from 1943 through 1963. With plenty of chances to pad his totals, he still holds the record for most All-Star homers. He once hit 5 long balls in a doubleheader (a record later tied by Nate Colbert). 

Another rare achievement, Musial spent all 22 of his major league seasons in St. Louis. Few players have remained in one place for that long. He helped the Cardinals to 4 World Series appearances between 1942 and 1946. In 23 postseason games, he reached base by hit or walk 34 times. He scored 9 runs and drove in 8 more as the Red Birds captured 3 world championships. After reitring as a player, Musial guided the club to another World Series victory as GM.

Beyond his on-field accomplishments, Musial was community-minded and generous. A beloved figure in St. Louis, he focused his energies on several charities including the Crippled Children's Society of St. Louis, Shelter the Children, the U.S.O. and the Urological Research Foundation. Additionally, he chaired the President's Council on Physical Fitness. All in all, he was an extraordinary man and will be sorely missed.

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