Stanley Frank Musial is considered one of baseball’s most consistent hitters and one of the all-time greatest players in the game.
Born on November 21, 1920, he took on baseball at an early age, playing with his brother and learning from a neighbor who was a former minor league pitcher. At 15, Stan was part of a semi-professional team called the Donora Zincs, managed by his neighbor – Joe Barbao. In his debut, he pitched six innings and struck out 13 batters.
The University of Pittsburg offered him a scholarship to play basketball which he passed up on to focus on baseball. This proved to be a wise choice, as he ended up with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1936. He was originally signed as a pitcher to the Cardinals but due to a shoulder injury, he became an outfielder after recovering.
“Stan the Man”
The origins of the Stan the Man nickname are very interesting. They had nothing to do with the Cardinals’ fans or teammates.
Fans of the opposing team at Ebbets Field on June 23, 1946, started to chant “here comes the man” as Musial stepped on the plate. His opponents at the time were the Los Angeles Dodgers. A writer by the name of Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch heard it and fitted it into his next column. From then on out, the name stuck with Musial throughout his career.
Stan the Man was dedicated to the Cardinals, spending his entire career with the team. He played in Major League Baseball from 1941-1944, and then from 1946-1963. Just in case you were wondering what happened in 1945 – he enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II.
Initially, he was assigned to non-combat duty but was later assigned to Special Services in Hawaii, charged with bringing back damaged ship and crew. In March 1946, he was honorably discharged as a Seaman Second Class and then returned to baseball. In his career, he had 3,630 hits and a lifetime batting average of .331. Amazingly, he also walked (1,599) more than twice as much as he struck out (969). After his retirement, he took up a position in the Cardinals’ front office but stepped down from the role of general manager in 1967 after leading the team to the World Series
During Musial’s major league career, there was were few players as consistent, as Stan the Man was selected to the All-Star game 20 times. He is tied in first place with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays for most All-Star appearances.
Over 3,000 Hits
Musial is ranked 4th on the all-time hits list with a total of 3,630 hits throughout his career. He had an equal number of hits at home and on the road – 1815. Stan ended his career with an average of .331, which was a bit lower than his prime seasons because of a slight downturn in his career near its end.
NL Batting Champion
Stan was a dominant force throughout his career and it shows in the number of times he won the NL batting title. He won these titles in 1943, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1952, and 1957.
World Series Trophies
Stan helped the Cardinals win three World Series Championships in 1942, 1944, and 1946. In 1943, the Cardinals also got to the finals but lost to the New York Yankees. These three World Series wins doubled the Cardinals’ all-time tally.
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Stan was awarded a Medal of Freedom in 2011 by president Barrack Obama for his achievements and service to his country. This is the most prestigious award for a citizen and it was in recognition of his on-field success, service to the St Louis community, and service to his country.