About Stan Musial
Stan Musial was born on November 21st, 1920, in Donora, Pennsylvania. Musial was the fifth of six children, and often played baseball with his brother Ed growing up. At age 15, Musial joined a semi-professional baseball team, the Donora Zincs. In his debut with the Zincs, Musial struck out 13 batters, all adults, in 6 innings. Musial was also a very talented basketball player, and received a scholarship offer from Pittsburgh. The St. Louis Cardinals were also scouting Musial as a pitcher at the time, and eventually offered him a contract in 1937. Stan’s father was initially opposed to the idea of pursuing a professional baseball career, but gave in to Stan and his mother’s persuasion. Musial was officially a St. Louis Cardinal and headed to their Class D affiliate team, the Williamson Red Birds.
Path to the Major Leagues
It took Musial some time to adjust to his new lifestyle both on and of the field. On the field, he posted a 6-6 record with a 4.66 ERA and batted .258 as he also gained knowledge on baseball strategy. Off the field he struggled with homesickness. Following the season, Musial finished high school before returning to Williamson in the spring for the 1939 season. After earning his high school diploma, Musial posted significantly better numbers, going 9-2 with a 4.30 ERA and a whopping .352 batting average. After posting consistent numbers both on the mound and at the plate for a couple of years in the minors, Stan the Man was finally called up to the St. Louis Cardinals for the home stretch of the 1941 season.
Musial’s Major League Career
Stan Musial’s major league debut came during the last two weeks of the season with the Cardinals in the thick of a pennant race. Musial batted .426 while collecting 20 hits in 12 games for the red birds. Despite his contributions, the Cardinals finished the season two and a half games back of the Brooklyn Dodgers for the playoffs. This marked the beginning of a spectacular career with the St. Louis Cardinals. Musial primarily played left field and occasionally first base while wearing the number 6.
After his second World Series championship in 1944, Musial served in the Navy during World War II. He came back to baseball in 1946 and won NL MVP and his third World Series title. By the end of his 22 year career, Stan Musial racked up 24 All-Star selections, 3 World Series championships, 3 National League MVPs, and 7 NL batting titles. He batted .331 with 475 home runs, 3,630 hits, and 1,951 RBIs in his career. Musial held 27 MLB records, 29 NL records, and 9 All-Star game records at the time of his retirement. In 1963, the St. Louis Cardinals retired Musial’s number 6, and in 1968 a statue of Stan Musial was dedicated at Busch stadium. The following year Musial was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2011, Musial was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Stan was one of the most feared hitters in baseball during his time. When he retired, his total at-bats, hits and runs-scored were second only to Ty Cobb, and only Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig had more RBIs than Musial. He also set the record for most extra base hits with 1,377, which Hank Aaron broke in 1973. Musial had a terrific combination of speed and contact along with solid power. He was also well known for his unique corkscrew batting stance.
- Born: Nov. 21, 1920
- Hometown: Donora, Pa.
- Height: 6-0
- Weight: 175 pounds
- Batted: Left
- Threw: Left
- Family: Wife, Lillian (married for 72 years before she died in 2012); son Richard; daughters Gerry, Janet and Jeanie
- Primary position: First baseman (played more games in outfield, but split between left field, right field and center field)
Before The Bigs:
- Was high school teammate with Buddy Griffey, the father of Ken Griffey and grandfather of Ken Griffey Jr.
- Also was an accomplished basketball player, and was offered a scholarship by the University of Pittsburgh.
- Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a pitcher in 1937.
- Was 9-2 with a 4.30 ERA in 13 games in 1939 at age 18 with Williamson (W.Va.), and was 18-5 witha 2.62 ERA in 1940 with Class D Daytona Beach. Playing outfield as well, he batted .352 in Williamson and .311 with Daytona Beach.
- Made a diving catch in the 1940 season in Daytona Beach and injured his left shoulder, ending his pitching career.
- Batted .379 with 26 home runs at age 20 with Class C Springfield and then .326 with three homers in Double-A Rochester before earning a call-up to the Cardinals in 1941.
- Considered as the greatest St. Louis Cardinals player of all-time.
- A 24-time All-Star, he had 3,630 hits (fourth all-time), with 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road.
- Had a lifetime batting average of .331 with 475 home runs and 1,951 RBI, which ranks sixth all-time. His career OPS of .976 is 13th all-time.
- Won the National League batting title seven times, winning at age 22 and at age 37.
- Hit .426 in 12 games with the Cardinals in 1941, and hit the first home run of his career off Rip Sewell on Sept. 23, 1941.
- Qualified for exemptions and didn’t go to war until 1945. In the meantime, the Cardinals won the World Series in 1942 and he won his first batting title in 1943 and was named NL MVP, hitting .357 with a .988 OPS. He was selected to his first All-Star Game and led the NL in hits, doubles, triples and on-base percentage.
- Hit .347 in 1944 as the Cardinals won the NL pennant and beat the Browns in an all-St. Louis World Series.
- Spent a year in the Navy and played baseball in a league on base at Pearl Harbor.
- Returned to the majors in 1946, and earned the nickname “Stan the Man” from a st. Louis sportswriter.
- Won his second MVP in 1946, leading the NL with a .365 average. Won his third World Series, getting six hits in a seven-game win over the Boston Red Sox.
- Finished one home run short of winning the Triple Crown in 1948, when he had his finest season statistically, batting .376 with 39 home runs and 131 RBI. Was selected NL MVP for the third time. Collected his 1,000th hit that season and hit a home run in the 1948 All-Star Game.
- Never won the MVP again, but finished second four times and in the top 10 five other times from 1949-57.
- Never led the NL in home runs in a season despite hitting 475 in his career.
- Among the most consistent hitters ever, he batted better than .310 in every season from 1942 to 1958.
- Hit five home runs in a doubleheader on May 2, 1954 against the New York Giants.
- Was the oldest player to hit three homers in one game at age 41 in 1961.
- Hit a home run to win the 1955 All-Star game in the 12th inning.
- Played in 895 consecutive games from 1951 to 1957, when he injured his shoulder.
- Collected his 3,000th hit in 1958 with a pinch-hit double against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
- Established National League records for hits, RBI and runs scored at the time of his retirement after the 1963 season. He was the major-league leader in extra-base hits and total bases.
- Named a vice president of the Cardinals after his retirment and was the team’s general manager in 1967. The Cardinals won the World Series that season.
- Stepped down after the season to devote more time to his business interests.
- Selected to the Hall of Fame in 1969, his first season of eligibility, on 93.2 percent of ballots.
- One of 30 players selected to the MLB All-Century Team.
- Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.