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
7 Replies to “Join the “Stand for Stan” Campaign”
During the summer Sports Illustrated magazine had a real nice article about Stan the Man.
Ok, just the concept of Stan The Man being underrated by anyone, is shocking. I just read the bit on him at the ESPN link, “Current MLB players didn’t rank Stan the Man as among the top six living ballplayers in a recent SI survey” and then the part where it says he “wasn’t voted by fans onto MLB’s all-century team”. I don’t know what to say about that, that’s just…really… ignorant. It’s like thinking the US won its independence from China.
@Devon: I agree totally. Do you ever notice how infrequently Musial’s name comes up in general conversations about baseball? Talk about the game’s history should begin with Musial and proceed from there.
@Douglas: We provided a link to the Sports Illustrated article in the blog. It’s just above all the quotes from Musial’s contemporaries.
Stan never sought out the spotlight, nor was he controversial. All he did, year after year like a xerox copy machine was turn out one great season after another. You’ll note, if you look back at the baseball publications from the 40s and 50s that there was the constant comparison the writers made between Musial and Williams; a connection that honored both of them by doing so.
There’s little doubt that Stan is the greatest living ballplayer today, and we should appreciate him while we still have him with us. We won’t see another like him in our lifetime.
I started watching baseball at 5 and because Stan Musial was from Donora, Pa near Pittsburgh. When he and his St. Louis Cardinals came to town I would try to go watch him batter my beloved Pirates, whose baseball fortune were until 1960 bleak. Musial was the greatest player I ever saw in years of watching. Only Roberto Clemente matched him and may have had a slightly better fielding arm.
Musial deserves every accolade we can muster on his 90 birthday.
Highly underrated. Should be up there as one of the top five greatest players ever. He could do it all and in his time he was very well-known and respected. I would rate him over Ted Williams because he was almost as great a hitter and and a much better fielder and all-round player than the great Ted Williams.
I was glad that he made it to the All-Century Team, but angry that they bumped Roberto Clemente off who had received more votes. They should have bumped off Rose or Griffey. As great as the latter two are, Clemente is better.