Diamonds out of the Coal Mines:
Slavic Americans in Baseball
On 13 May 1958, a sunny afternoon in Chicago, Stan Musial came to bat as a pinch hitter for his St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth inning of a close game with the Cubs in Wrigley Field. An established star of the first rank and defending batting champion of the National League, the durable Musial rarely came off the bench despite his thirty-seven years. The only reason he was not in the lineup that day was that his manager, Fred Hutchinson, had hoped that his first baseman would collect his next hit in front of his home fans in Sportsman's Park, but the game situation dictated otherwise. When he laced a 2–2 curveball to left field for a double, the son of a Polish immigrant and his Slovak American wife became the eighth player to amass three thousand major league hits. The pitcher who surrendered the milestone blow was a twenty-two-year-old right-hander named Moe Drabowsky who, according to Musial, “had me beat on at least one point. He'd actually been born in Poland.”1 This memorable at bat, matching the young Pole against the greatest of all players of east European ancestry, stands as an apt symbol of an era when athletes of Slavic origins reached the peak of their influence in professional baseball, a development that started slowly, built gradually during the opening decades of the twentieth century, and crested during and directly after the Second World War. Along with Ike, Elvis, and the Chevy, muscular sluggers whose forebears hailed from the other side of
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Publication information: Book title: The American Game: Baseball and Ethnicity. Contributors: Lawrence Baldassaro - Editor, Richard A. Johnson - Editor. Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press. Place of publication: Carbondale, IL. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 142.
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