If there ever was a perfect professional baseball player, Stan Musial would have fit the description. Known as “Stan The Man,” Musial racked up 3,630 lifetime hits. A record few players have ever achieved. However, what’s most remarkable about the accomplishment is that 1,815 of those hits were on home turf, while the other 1,815 were executed on the opposing teams home field. The balance is astonishing.
Musial was statistically as well as in reality one of baseball’s greatest hitters. Today, baseball’s near perfect player died quietly in his St. Louis home at approximately 5:45 p.m. According to reports, he died surrounded by family and friends. He was 92-years-old.
A first ballot inductee into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1969, “Stan The Man” played 22 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals. During that time, Musial was selected a record 24 times to the All-Star team (baseball held two All-Star games each summer for two seasons). In addition, Stan was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player three times and won three World Series Championships in the 1940s.
Stan the Man won seven National League batting titles in a scandal-free career that ended in 1963. According to published reports, Musial was eager to play every day, striking a chord with fans throughout the Midwest and beyond. For much of his career, St. Louis was the most western outpost in the majors, and the Cardinals’ vast radio network spread word about him in all directions.
Farmers in the field and families on the porch would tune in, as did a future president – Bill Clinton recalled doing his homework listening to Musial’s exploits.
Musial’s public appearances dwindled in recent years, though he took part in the pregame festivities at Busch during the 2011 postseason as the Cardinals won the World Series. And he was at the White House in February 2011 when President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor for contributions to society.
He certainly delivered at the plate.
Musial, who turned 92 in November, was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, his health had been declining for the last several years. Lillian Musial, who had been Stan’s wife for more than 70 years died in May of 2012.
Musial was likely the most popular Cardinal of all time. Even after his retirement he remained a resident of St. Louis.
The Hall of Famer signed a professional contract to pitch for the Cardinals in 1938, but was converted into an outfielder where he made his major league debut in 1941.
At the time of his retirement, Musial held or shared 17 major league records, 29 National League records, and nine All-Star Game records. In addition to overseeing businesses such as Stan Musial and Biggie’s restaurant, Musial served as the Cardinals’ general manager in 1967 and then quit after his team won both the National League title and World Series that year.
Musial was selected to the Major League Baseball All-Century team in 1999 and President Barack Obama presented Musial with the presidential medal of freedom, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a civilian, at the White House on Feb 15, 2011.
A bronze statue has stood outside the last two Busch Stadium facilities, now residing on newly-dedicated Musial Plaza. The inscription reads, “Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.”
He has a statue outside Busch Stadium and his No. 6 was retried by the Cardinals in 1963 — the same year that he stopped playing. He was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest honor that the United States government can bestow on a civilian — at the White House in February 2011.
The beloved Cardinal will be missed.