Baseball lost one of its all-time best on Saturday when Stan Musial passed away at the age of 92. Musial won seven batting titles, amassed 3,360 hits, led the NL in hits six times, doubles eight times, triples five times, and perhaps most impressively, never struck out more than 46 times in a season.
The 24-time All-Star (there were two All-Star games each season for a couple of years which explains why Musial made more All-Star teams than years he played, 22), was surrounded by family as he passed away from natural causes. Musial was always a fan-favorite, not just of St. Louis Cardinals fans but of fans from all around the Major Leagues. As much as he pleased fans on the field he also strove to please them off of it. He would famously reply to autograph requests sent to his home address with a signed postcard, something he apparently stopped doing recently as his health deteriorated.
John Wayne, an acquaintance of Musial’s, gave him the idea of carrying around autographed cards to hand out to children and autograph seekers. He took that practice with him into retirement.
Musial was one of the real good guys of baseball. There were no scandals, no affairs, nothing but a good man doing great things on the field and off of it.
During the latter part of World War II, Musial found himself drafted into the service much like a lot of other ballplayers of his era. In 1945 Musial would serve with the Navy and would fix ship in Pearl Harbor and spend much of his free time playing baseball. He was discharged before the 1946 season.
Musial played in an era with Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and later Mickey Mantle, and Willie Mays. He always seemed to be playing second-fiddle when the conversation arose about who the best player in baseball was. However, there is no doubt that Musial, a career .331 hitter, deserves to be mentioned in the conversation of top ten players of all-time.
When Musial retired in 1963 he owned 55 batting records. Yes, on and off the field Stan Musial really was “The Man.”