Monday, January 21, 2013

R.I.P. Stan Musial (1920-2013)

"I love to play this game of baseball, I love putting on this uniform."

-- Stan "The Man" Musial,
1920 - 2013

There isn't really much you can say when a legend like Stan Musial passes to the great diamond in the sky.  Baseball loses a legend.  

I tried to put into words (and I still may later) my thoughts about Musial and what he meant to a game we love.  I actually was having trouble though, trying to come up with any memorial or tribute.  Nothing that was coming to my head seemed fitting.  I would actually start a paragraph and when I'd look up Musial's unreal career stats, I'd look back at the type and think it wasn't good enough.  

Which may be fitting in itself.  I had NO idea that Musial was like, that good.  It's hard to make an argument that a first-ballot Hall of Famer is "underrated," but that's exactly what Musial was...underrated.

Playing in the quiet, quaint midwest rather than the bright lights of Brooklyn or the Bronx, Musial spent his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals.  All he did there was make 24 All-Star appearances except for one year where he was serving the United States Navy during World War II.  

Soft-spoken and shy, Musial would rather play the harmonica than talk to the reporters.  After his playing career, he served as the Cardinals GM and won a World Series as a General Manager.  

Think about this,

Second in total bases (6,134), 
Third in doubles (725), 
Fourth in hits (3,630), 
Sixth in RBIs (1,951) 
Ninth in runs (1,949) 
Only 696 strikeouts
 .331 career batting average
Three time NL MVP
 He received MVP votes in 18 seasons
Seven NL batting titles
He won his seventh title, 14 years after his first.

So right now I'm stuck.  I still may write something and put it up but for now, this seems fitting: 

What a few others had to say about Stan"the Man."

Preacher Roe, when asked how to get Musial out,
"I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base."  

Bob Costas,
"He didn't hit a homer in his last at-bat; he hit a single. He didn't hit in 56 straight games. He married his high school sweetheart and stayed married to her, never married a Marilyn Monroe. He didn't play with the sheer joy and style that goes alongside Willie Mays' name. None of those easy things are there to associate with Stan Musial. All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being,"

Former Chicago Cubs manager Jimmy Wilson,
"Nobody can be that good.  Nobody."

Carl Erskine,
"I've had pretty good success with Stan (Musial) by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third."

Joe Garagiola,
"He could have hit .300 with a fountain pen."  

Albert Pujols, 
"I don't want to be called that. There is one man who gets that respect, and that's Stan Musial. He's The Man. He's The Man in St. Louis. And I know 'El Hombre' means 'The Man' in Spanish. But Stan is The Man. You can call me whatever else you want, but just don't call me 'El Hombre.'"

Vin Scully
"How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away." 

Warren Spahn,
"Once Musial timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."

Ford C. Frick,
"Here stands baseball's perfect warrior.  Here stands baseball's perfect knight."  

And lastly,

Stan Musial,

"I like to make people smile. The only thing I liked that much was hitting."

Thanks for making all of us smile Stan, you will be missed.
-- TFC