Stan the Man
January 19, 2013 5:15 PM   Subscribe

A day after Earl Weaver, Cardinal great Stan Musial has passed away. Stan spent 22 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, racking up a lifetime batting average of .331 and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
posted by holmesian (45 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
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RIP, Stan. Thanks for everything.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:17 PM on January 19, 2013


Stan the Man! A true legend.
posted by Fister Roboto at 5:17 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by asperity at 5:22 PM on January 19, 2013


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One of the most underrated players ever, and a class act.
posted by Kwine at 5:24 PM on January 19, 2013


Second nicest oldtimer associated with Cardinal baseball when I was a kid. You could just talk to him if you wandered around outside busch stadium pregame (this was the 70s and 80s). Number one nicest being Jack Buck.

But never try to meet people at his statue, cause everybody else has the same idea and hundreds of people just mill around looking like prairie dogs.

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posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 5:27 PM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Note that I realize Jack Buck wasn't a player. Just a really nice older guy who would talk to kids and punk teenagers about the Cards.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 5:28 PM on January 19, 2013


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As a young girl I had an autographed picture of Musial at bat hanging in my room, a gift from my mother. What sad news. I don't know that I ever hoped harder than I do right now that there is indeed a great baseball diamond in the sky...
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:28 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by ryoshu at 5:32 PM on January 19, 2013


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posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:36 PM on January 19, 2013


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Stan was an absolute treasure. This makes me so sad (and homesick for STL)
posted by makonan at 5:37 PM on January 19, 2013


Required reading: Joe Posnanski's piece on Stan.
posted by makonan at 5:44 PM on January 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


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(swinging bat and ball)
posted by jabo at 5:44 PM on January 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


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posted by drezdn at 5:46 PM on January 19, 2013


Thanks for the link, Makonan. I like Posnanski, and it's good to see that someone whose stuff I enjoy reading also respects this good player and great guy.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:54 PM on January 19, 2013


Required reading: Joe Posnanski's piece on Stan.

Definitely. Thanks for the link. Some amazing details in that piece (e.g. "He was so beloved in New York that the Mets held a 'Stan Musial Day.' In Chicago, he once finished first in a 'favorite player' poll among Cubs fans, edging out Ernie Banks.")

And man, that 1948 season (.376 average, 46 doubles, 18 triples, 39 home runs, 135 runs, 131 RBIs) was as good as any single season of Ted Williams' career, even the legendary .400 season.

And finally this? "Hell could not be much hotter than a St. Louis summer day." Word to that. My family lived in St. Louis for two years in the early 1980s. We arrived from Atlantic Canada in the middle of a July heatwave, utterly unprepared, physically and psychically, for the St. Louis heat. I've heard that new arrivals to Canada sometimes feel panicked on their first winter day, and it was like that for us with the heat.

While the movers were unpacking our stuff, we went to a Jack in the Box with broken A/C for lunch. For reasons lost to family lore, we stayed for some reason. Maybe the least comfortable meal of my life, and still the hottest weather I've ever experienced outside of Delhi in the lead up to the monsoon.

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posted by gompa at 6:03 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, sad! I love hearing about when great athletes are also great people, and Stan Musial was one of the best.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:08 PM on January 19, 2013


Two Musial quips from my years of reading Bill James Baseball Abstract. (These are from memory so only very close to exact.)

1. "when you look at Musial's totals for singles, doubles, triples one thing jumps out at you: this is a hitter who always left the batter's box on a dead run".

2. "Musial's worst injury was sustained in an off-season workout. I believe it is generally true that players who hurt themselves working out in the off-season will tend to have longer careers than people who hurt themselves sliding into second base in a game."
posted by bukvich at 6:11 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


My dad was a 'runner' (ran whatever-needed-running between the box office, club rooms, broadcast booths, and dugouts) at the old Busch Stadium and had nothing but good things to say about Musial and Jack Buck.

Any South St. Louisan who is driving out-of-towners on one particular street in St. Louis Hills is *required* to point out Stan Musial's house, even though he hasn't lived there since the 70s.

I'm not one for sentimental tripe (ok, who am I kidding?) but watching Stan the Man "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" on the harmonica every Opening Day always made me tear up a little.

Peace, Stan the Man.
posted by notsnot at 6:14 PM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


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posted by vrakatar at 6:19 PM on January 19, 2013


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posted by gyc at 6:21 PM on January 19, 2013


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What a period looked like to Stan in his prime.
posted by sfts2 at 6:33 PM on January 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


The greatest Cardinal ever, and as good a person as he was a ballplayer. St. Louis weeps tonight.
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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 6:33 PM on January 19, 2013


From Curt Flood's autobiography The Way It Is:

"I once plucked at [Stan's] sleeve for advice. I had become overanxious about the curve ball and was swinging at it too soon. When balls are being fired toward your head at ninety or a hundred miles an hour, there is no time for deliberation. I mean, you do not just decide to delay your bat in case the pitch turns out to be a curve. Proper timing is an end product of a properly balanced stance, a properly hinged swing and, of course, athletic reflexes. I asked Musial if he could tell me how to adjust my swing. He thought for a while and then confided with total sincerity, 'Well, you wait for a strike. Then you knock the shit out of it.' I might as well have asked a nightingale how to trill."

@notsnot: South-side St. Louis represent. I pointed out that house the first time my (future) wife came to St. Louis to visit my family.


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posted by Groundhog Week at 6:36 PM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sad day for this son of St. Louis. Stan Musial embodied everything that could be great as an ambassador of his sport, in addition to being really, really good at playing it. He will always be the pride of St. Louis, as far as I'm concerned, and we couldn't ask for a better representative.

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Jack Buck was a truly wonderful St. Louisan too, and I continue to miss his announcing to this day.
posted by Brak at 6:41 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have an 8x10 glossy of Stan the Man signed "To Jimmy - Get well soon - Stan Musial". My dad worked for AT&T and was in St Louis on a training program and ate at Musial's restaurant. I was sick with chicken pox or some other childhood plague and my dad got me his autograph. In the pre-Colt 45/Astros Texas the Cardinals were our home team. They were the only MLB team (slightly) west of the Mississippi...
posted by jim in austin at 6:42 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by DaddyNewt at 7:00 PM on January 19, 2013


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posted by wrapper at 7:04 PM on January 19, 2013


I was about 8 years old (so almost 30 years ago) at a Cardinals game, at field level getting autographs. Walking back to my seat, I was stopped by an older gentleman sitting with his wife in matching pinstripe outfits. He pointed to the ball in my hand and said "Hi, I'm Stan Musial" to which I scoffed "Ha, yeah right..." and walked back to my seat.

Later that evening, watching the highlights of the game, they panned over to an older couple in matching pinstripe outfits.... "Stan the Man and his wife taking in the game today...."

I still feel like a total loser for turning down Stan the Man... :-(
posted by Jacob G at 7:25 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by Elly Vortex at 7:26 PM on January 19, 2013


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posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:39 PM on January 19, 2013


I'm picturing him telling St. Peter he is no fucking good.
posted by srboisvert at 8:50 PM on January 19, 2013


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posted by badger_flammable at 9:38 PM on January 19, 2013


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posted by riverlife at 9:54 PM on January 19, 2013


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posted by Chanther at 9:58 PM on January 19, 2013


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posted by DigDoug at 4:54 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


In 1944, Musial was 23 years old and batted .347 to guide the Cardinals to the World Series. He passed his Naval physical examination in June 1944 and reported for induction on January 23, 1945. Musial was assigned to Bainbridge Naval Training Center in Maryland on March 17, and played for the Bainbridge NTC Commodores baseball team. The Commodores line-up included Lum Harris, Dick Wakefield, Thurman Tucker, Stan Spence and Dick Sisler, and Musial credits his time at Bainbridge with helping him develop as a power hitter, stating that he altered his stance to pull the ball so he could hit more home runs to entertain the servicemen.

So that's where the weird cork-screw stance came from.

His unique corkscrew batting stance, described by Ted Lyons as “like a kid peeking around the corner to see if the cops are coming,” resulted in seven batting crowns. He posted a lifetime .416 on-base average, scoring at least 105 runs in 11 straight seasons.
posted by three blind mice at 5:54 AM on January 20, 2013


Reading through his numbers it seems impossible one player could have done all that. And so consistently. He batted .330 in his final season at age 41!

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posted by tommasz at 6:16 AM on January 20, 2013



Kwine: One of the most underrated players ever...

He's a Hall of Famer. SABR lists him as the No. 5 player of all time. The Sporting News has him at No. 10. Even the noobs at Bleacher Report have him at No. 6.

That word "underrated" - I do not think it means what you think it means.

Also, on his career totals: Musial missed a year at his peak (age 24) to serve in the U.S. Navy.
posted by sixpack at 6:50 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by bjgeiger at 7:42 AM on January 20, 2013


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posted by gc at 8:13 AM on January 20, 2013


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posted by schyler523 at 10:38 AM on January 20, 2013


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posted by joechip at 12:24 PM on January 20, 2013


That word "underrated" - I do not think it means what you think it means.

I'm sure that if you were writing your comment again that you wouldn't feel the need to condescend to me like this-the rest of your comment was interesting and fair and I'll try to think of that part of our interaction when I think of you.

No doubt Musial is properly rated by SABR and by people who know what SABR is. People outside baseball don't know Musial the way they know Mantle or DiMaggio or Mays or Ted Williams, because he didn't have a signature baseball record or moment, he didn't make non-baseball headlines for good or for ill, he didn't play in New York, probably other things. No non-pitcher was better at baseball than Stan the Man and had a lower Q rating than he does; many, many non-pitchers were worse at baseball and had a higher Q rating.
posted by Kwine at 12:39 AM on January 21, 2013


I'm pretty sure I wouldn't rethink my comment. Musial is, in fact, "rated" appropriately by pretty much anyone who knows anything about baseball.

If you meant Musial is "under-known" by people who know little about baseball, then I suppose you have a point - a point that is somewhat supported by this NYT piece noting that while Life magazine once called him the best player of the the post-WWII decade (better even than DiMaggio or Williams), he was ignored in 1999 when MLB conducted a half-assed "team of the century" contest.

I'd attribute that to Musial playing and living outside of a national media market.
posted by sixpack at 7:02 AM on January 21, 2013


Also, on his career totals: Musial missed a year at his peak (age 24) to serve in the U.S. Navy.

Much thanks to Stan for his service, but he was fortunate to lose only that one year. Ted Williams was called up for two wars and gave up nearly five years of his career.
posted by e1c at 12:05 PM on January 21, 2013


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