I’m pleased to present the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi, about one of the oldest living baseball legends.
On November 21, Stan Musial will turn 90. Recently, ESPN named Musial as one of history’s most underrated baseball stars.
I’ve studied Musial’s 22-year career statistics dozens of times. Yet every new review leaves me in awe as if I were analyzing them for the first time. If you haven’t checked Musial’s numbers out lately, look here.
For those of you pressed for time, I’ll condense Musial’s batting feats: 3,026 games played, .331 average, .417 on-base percentage, .559 slugging percentage, 3630 hits, 725 doubles, 177 triples, 475 homers, 1949 runs, and 1951 RBIs. Musial is the only player to finish his career in the top 25 in all these categories and owns or owned a number of records. In a testimony to his steady production, Musial had 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 on the road; in St. Louis, he hit .336; on the road, .326
Musial won three MVPs, finished twice four times, in the top ten 14 times and appeared in 22 All Star games. In what may be the most remarkable of Musial’s achievements, he was never ejected from a game.
My purpose today is not to rehash Musial statistics that may already be well known to you but rather to make you aware of the St. Louis Cardinals’ effort to have the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, awarded to “Stan the Man”. Details, including how to sign the Cardinals’ “Stand for Stan” petition and write a letter in Musial’s support to President Barack Obama are here.
Other baseball winners include Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Joe Di Maggio, Roberto Clemente, Buck O’Neil, Henry Aaron and Frank Robinson.
To refresh your memory about the worthiness of Musial’s credentials, watch a video tribute to Musial here. And read the August 10, Sports Illustrated article by Joe Posnanski that explains what Musial’s “small kindnesses” and “quiet dignity” means to St. Louis and to baseball fans everywhere.
Here’s a brief list of what Musial’s contemporaries say about his hitting ability:
Joe Garagiola: “He could have hit .300 with a fountain pen.”
Vince Scully: “How good was Musial? Good enough to take your breath away.”
Preacher Roe: “I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base.”
Carl Erskine: “I’ve had pretty good success with Musial by throwing him my best pitch, then running to back up third.”
Warren Spahn: “Once Musial timed your fastball, you’re infielders were in jeopardy.”
Sources in St. Louis say Musial is in failing health, not surprising for a 90-year-old. His public appearances are few and often because of his limited mobility in a golf cart.
If you’re inclined to join the campaign for a Musial Medal of Freedom, today would be a good time to get going. In the meantime, if you’re concerned that Washington D.C. bureaucracy may work too slowly, you can send a birthday card to Musial c/o the St. Louis Cardinals, 700 Clark St, St. Louis, MO 63102.
Stan would be delighted to hear from you.
[Postscript: On November 17, the White House announced that Stan Musial will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.]
Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org