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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

R.I.P. Stan Musial

There is a lot going on in the world of sports, but I would be remiss if I did not reflect on the passing of a true sports legend. National Baseball Hall of Fame member Stan Musial passed away on Saturday at the age of 92 of natural causes. Musial was universally regarded as the greatest St. Louis Cardinals player of all time. He remained a beloved and respected ambassador of baseball until his death and was among the last living stars from the golden age of baseball. Coincidentally, fellow Hall of Famer Earl Weaver also passed away on Saturday of a heart attack at age 82.


Musial was a legendary baseball player, though to most people living today he is known as much for his contribution to baseball and the St. Louis community as for his accomplishments on the diamond during his 22 years in Major League Baseball from 1941 through 1963. Perhaps American sports’ first “Stan the Man”, Musial’s stat sheet is absolutely staggering by any measure. His career batting average of .331 would be an impressive season average at any time in the last 100 years. The left handed slugger’s 3,630 career hits are fourth all time. He had well over 1,000 extra base hits, including 475 home runs. His career on base plus slugging percentage is just short of 1.000, at .976.

Musial played in 24 All-Star Games, won seven National League Batting titles, won three MVPs (1943, 1946, 1948), and three World Series championships with the Cards (1942, 1944, 1946). He is a member of the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. His #6 jersey is retired and there was a statue erected of him outside of Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis in 1968.


Musial’s legacy extends well beyond his playing career. He was known as a gentleman of the game. Musial was married to his late wife, Lil, for 71 years (until her death last year). He was never ejected from a game. He accepted pay cuts to remain with the team. He served in the Cardinals’ front office after his retirement, including as General Manager during their 1967 World Series championship. Musial was known for making the Cardinals a family-friendly team for which to play. For instance, he had a reputation for making fair contract offers and offering in-stadium babysitting services during home games.

Musial continued to be involved in St. Louis, making countless public appearances and helping with dozens of charitable events. Musial threw out the first pitches in Game 5 of the 2006 World Series (Detroit Tigers at St. Louis Cardinals) and the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis. In 2011, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Musial is survived by his children: Richard, Jerry, Janet, and Jean, 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.


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