Stan Musial Baseball Career

Stanley Frank "Stan" Musial (born November 21, 1920), was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. Nicknamed "Stan the Man", Musial played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941 to 1963. A 24-time All-Star selection, Musial accumulated 3,630 hits and 475 home runs during his career, was named the National League's Most Valuable Player three times, and was a member of three World Series championship teams.

Stan Musial St. Louis CardinalsStan Musial was born in Donora, Pennsylvania signed to a professional contract by the St. Louis Cardinals as a pitcher in 1938, by the time Musial made his Major League debut on September 17, 1941, he had been converted into an outfielder. Musial quickly established himself as a consistent and productive hitter, leading the National League in six different offensive categories in 1943 while concurrently earning his first MVP award. Noted for his unique batting stance, Musial won his second World Series in 1944, then missed the entire 1945 season while serving with the United States Navy.

Receiving his nickname of "The Man" from Brooklyn Dodger fans in 1946, Musial continued his consistent hitting and annual All-Star appearances. In 1948 Musial finished one home run shy of winning baseball's Triple Crown. After struggling offensively in 1959, Musial utilized a personal trainer to increase his productivity until deciding to retire in 1963. At the time of his retirement, Musial held or tied for seventeen major league records, 29 National League records, and nine All-Star Game records. Musial served as the Cardinals' General Manager in 1966 and 1967, in addition to overseeing various businesses both before and after his playing career, such as a restaurant. Musial also became noted for his harmonica playing, a talent he had learned during his playing career. Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 on his first ballot, Musial was selected for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.

Stan Musial made his major league debut on September 17, 1941. The Cardinals were in the midst of a pennant race with the Brooklyn Dodgers; in twelve games, Musial collected 20 hits for a .426 batting average. Despite Musial's late contributions, the Cardinals finished two and one-half games behind the 100-game-winning Brooklyn Dodgers.

Stan Musial St. Louis CardinalsSt. Louis Cardinals manager Billy Southworth used Musial as the left fielder to begin 1942, sometimes lifting him for a pinch-hitter against left-handed pitching. Musial was hitting .315 by late June, as the Cardinals resumed battling the Dodgers for first place in the National League. The Cardinals took sole possession of first place on September 13, but it was only when Musial caught a fly ball to end the first game of a doubleheader on September 27 that they clinched the pennant with their 105th win of the season. Finishing the season with a .315 batting average and 72 RBIs in 140 games, Musial received national publicity in September when St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports editor J. Roy Stockton named Musial as his choice for Rookie of the Year in a Saturday Evening Post article.

The Cardinals played the American League champion New York Yankees in the 1942 World Series. Representing the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 at Sportsman's Park, Musial grounded out with the bases loaded to seal a Yankees victory. Musial's first hit of the Series was an RBI single that provided the margin of victory in Game 2, allowing the Cardinals to tie the Series. Over the next three games at Yankee Stadium, Musial had three more hits as the Cardinals defeated the Yankees in the series four games to one, finishing the series with a .222 batting average and two runs scored.

The realities of World War II began to encroach on Musial's baseball career in 1944, as Musial underwent a physical examination as prelude to possible service in the United States armed forces. Stan Musial entered the United States Navy on January 23, 1945, and was initially assigned to non-combat duty at the Naval Training Station in Bainbridge, Maryland. On ship repair duty at Pearl Harbor later in the year, Musial was able to play baseball every afternoon in the naval base's eight-team league. After being granted emergency leave to see his ailing father in January 1946, Musial spent a brief time assigned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard before being honorably discharged from the Navy in March.

At the time of his retirement Musial held or tied for seventeen major league records, 29 National League records, and nine All-Star Game records. Some of those records included Musial's rank as the major league career leader in extra-base hits (1,377) and total bases (6,134). In 1963, Musial also held National League career marks in categories such as hits (3,630), games played (3,026), doubles (725), and RBIs (1,951). Stan Musial finished his career with 475 home runs despite never having led the National League in the category. Stan Musial's career hit total was divided in two between 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road. Musial was also the first major league player to appear in more than 1,000 games at two different positions, registering 1,896 games in the outfield and 1,016 at first base.

In Musial's 3,026 major league appearances, he was never once ejected from a game. Umpire Tom Gorman said, "The bigger the guy, the less he argued. You never heard a word out of Stan Musial, Willie Mays, or Roberto Clemente." Speaking about Musial's quiet reputation within the sport's history, sportscaster Bob Costas said, "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... All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being.

In 1999, Musial ranked tenth on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. Stan Musial was also honored as one of 30 players selected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, added by a special committee after finishing eleventh in fan voting among outfielders.