Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man

Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man

Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man

Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man

Synopsis

In the most comprehensive assessment of baseball legend Stan Musial's life and career to date, James N. Giglio places the St. Louis Cardinal star within the context of the times-the Great Depression and wartime and postwar America-and the issues then prevalent in professional baseball, particularly race and the changing economics of the game. Giglio illuminates how the times shaped Musial and delves further into his popular image as a warm, unfailingly gracious role model known for good sportsmanship and devotion to family."

Excerpt

Anyone approaching Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, from the main entrance at Walnut and Broadway will immediately come upon the bronze statue of Stan “The Man” Musial, whose inscribed pedestal honors “baseball’s perfect warrior, baseball’s perfect knight.” Even though the statue bears only a slight resemblance physically to the baseball player who spent his entire major-league career in St. Louis, from 1941 through 1963, it symbolizes one of the game’s premier performers, a Hall of Famer who brought a unique style to the ball diamond.

The 6-foot, 175-pound Musial batted in a deep crouch, moving the bat and his hips in a hula-like wiggle, with his body twisted away from the plate in cobra-like fashion. He peered out over his right shoulder while holding the bat two feet from his body, positioning his feet close together, and standing back in the batter’s box. As the ball approached, he uncoiled, and with the bat pulled back, he dipped his right knee, and then unleashed a vicious, level swing, after having shifted his weight onto his front foot and then elevating his back one. Brooklyn Dodgers coach Ted Lyons once suggested that Musial “looks like a kid peeking around the corner to see if the cops are coming.” In the outfield and on the basepaths, the Donora Greyhound, as the press called him in his earlier years, displayed gazellelike speed in running down fly balls and going from first to third on a single.

Musial ended his playing career with a lifetime .331 batting average. His 3,630 hits (1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road), 1,949 runs scored, 1,951 runs batted in, and 725doubles were National League career records at the time of his retirement. He also left behind several major-league records, most notably the most career total bases (6,134) and extra-base hits (1,377). Since 1963, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, and a few others have surpassed Musial’s record performances, but he remains today second in all-time total bases and extra-base hits, third in doubles, fourth in hits, and in the top ten in career slugging average, runs scored, runs batted in, games played, and at bats. Only sixteen others who reached the majors after 1900 have higher career batting averages. Incredibly, Musial averaged only thirty-three strikeouts per season, about one in every eighteen at

1. Bob Broeg, “The Mystery of Stan Musial,” 52.

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