Stan 'The Man' Musial Turns 90

Twenty years ago Stan Musial was inducted into the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame. Although Stan played his entire career for the St. Louis Cardinals, it was the fans at Ebbets Field who dubbed him ‘The Man.’ Musial’s hitting prowess in Brooklyn became legendary and even the most hard core of Dodger fans came to admire the good natured slugger. The late great Hall of Fame sportswriter Bob Broeg told of how one day at Ebbets Field the Brooklyn fans began to bemoan their fate by murmuring ‘here comes that man again,’ eventually ‘that man’ became ‘The Man’ and one of baseballs most famous monikers was born.
 
In 1952 Ty Cobb wrote a controversial article entitled ‘They Don’t Play Baseball Anymore,’ in which be blasted the current generation of players as unworthy “to be mentioned in the same breath as the old time greats“. However, the cantankerous Cobb also wrote:
 
…No man has ever been a perfect ballplayer. Stan Musial, however, is the closest thing to being perfect in the game today. I’ve seen greater hitters and greater runners and greater fielders, but he puts them all together like no one else…He’s certainly one of the greatest players of all time. In my book he’s a better player than Joe DiMaggio was in his prime. Stan Musial will score from first on a single…He’ll go after a ball, even in an exhibition game, diving for a shoestring catch, as if the World Series depended on it. He’s my kind of ball player. (1)
 
Stan Musial’s career stats represent only one aspect of the St. Louis icon’s life. No scandal has ever been attached to “The Man,’ he married his high-school sweetheart Lillian Labash 71 years ago and Stan and Lil remain happily married today. Stan’s longtime teammate and fellow member of the Hall of Fame, Red Schoendienst wrote:
 
Stan is such a personal guy. A lot of times he and I would go visit kids in hospitals whenever we were on the road in Philadelphia , Pittsburgh or someplace. He didn’t want publicity for it and he didn’t do it to seek recognition or humanitarian awards, he just did it because he thought it was the right thing to do and he enjoyed making other people happy and maybe giving them a small ray of sunshine to brighten up their lives. That was the kind of guy he was as a player, and he is still that kind of guy today. (2)
 
With his harmonica and a bevy of magic tricks at the ready, Stan can brighten up any room and lift anyone’s spirits. Perhaps no other athlete has touched as many lives with such a positive affirmation of life as ‘The Man.’ Fellow St. Louis icon and Hall of Fame broadcaster, the late great Jack Buck summed up Stan:
 
Musial and I have become the best of friends. I knew how great a ballplayer he was, and it was a treat to meet him. He’s the sort of person that when you hear so much about him, you think to yourself, “he can’t be that good.” Then when you first meet him, you think it may be an act. After you get to know him, you realize it’s not an act at all-he really is that sincere and that nice. He is kind to everyone he meets. (3)
 
At the base of Stan’s statue outside of Bush Stadium is inscribed this quote by Ford Frick, “Here stands baseball’s warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.” Happy birthday Stan! Happy anniversary Stan and Lillian!

Rick Moran adds:

I have never seen the kind of relationship between Musial and the people of St. Louis anywhere else. Chicago has a similar relationship with Ernie Banks, the ex-Cub Hall of Famer, but perhaps because St. Louis is a much smaller town, the universal affection directed toward Stan Musial - the hero worship, the love shown by children whose parents weren't even born when he played - goes far beyond the game of baseball and makes Musial into something of a civic saint.

 
(1) Cobb, Ty. “They Don’t Play Baseball Anymore.” Life Magazine; March 17, 1952.
(2) Schoendienst, Red. “Red, A Baseball Life.” Champaign, Sports Publishing, 1998.
(3) Buck, Jack.. “That’s a Winner.” Chicago, Sagamore Publishing, 1997.

 
paboehmke@yahoo.com
Twenty years ago Stan Musial was inducted into the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame. Although Stan played his entire career for the St. Louis Cardinals, it was the fans at Ebbets Field who dubbed him ‘The Man.’ Musial’s hitting prowess in Brooklyn became legendary and even the most hard core of Dodger fans came to admire the good natured slugger. The late great Hall of Fame sportswriter Bob Broeg told of how one day at Ebbets Field the Brooklyn fans began to bemoan their fate by murmuring ‘here comes that man again,’ eventually ‘that man’ became ‘The Man’ and one of baseballs most famous monikers was born.
 
In 1952 Ty Cobb wrote a controversial article entitled ‘They Don’t Play Baseball Anymore,’ in which be blasted the current generation of players as unworthy “to be mentioned in the same breath as the old time greats“. However, the cantankerous Cobb also wrote:
 
…No man has ever been a perfect ballplayer. Stan Musial, however, is the closest thing to being perfect in the game today. I’ve seen greater hitters and greater runners and greater fielders, but he puts them all together like no one else…He’s certainly one of the greatest players of all time. In my book he’s a better player than Joe DiMaggio was in his prime. Stan Musial will score from first on a single…He’ll go after a ball, even in an exhibition game, diving for a shoestring catch, as if the World Series depended on it. He’s my kind of ball player. (1)
 
Stan Musial’s career stats represent only one aspect of the St. Louis icon’s life. No scandal has ever been attached to “The Man,’ he married his high-school sweetheart Lillian Labash 71 years ago and Stan and Lil remain happily married today. Stan’s longtime teammate and fellow member of the Hall of Fame, Red Schoendienst wrote:
 
Stan is such a personal guy. A lot of times he and I would go visit kids in hospitals whenever we were on the road in Philadelphia , Pittsburgh or someplace. He didn’t want publicity for it and he didn’t do it to seek recognition or humanitarian awards, he just did it because he thought it was the right thing to do and he enjoyed making other people happy and maybe giving them a small ray of sunshine to brighten up their lives. That was the kind of guy he was as a player, and he is still that kind of guy today. (2)
 
With his harmonica and a bevy of magic tricks at the ready, Stan can brighten up any room and lift anyone’s spirits. Perhaps no other athlete has touched as many lives with such a positive affirmation of life as ‘The Man.’ Fellow St. Louis icon and Hall of Fame broadcaster, the late great Jack Buck summed up Stan:
 
Musial and I have become the best of friends. I knew how great a ballplayer he was, and it was a treat to meet him. He’s the sort of person that when you hear so much about him, you think to yourself, “he can’t be that good.” Then when you first meet him, you think it may be an act. After you get to know him, you realize it’s not an act at all-he really is that sincere and that nice. He is kind to everyone he meets. (3)
 
At the base of Stan’s statue outside of Bush Stadium is inscribed this quote by Ford Frick, “Here stands baseball’s warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.” Happy birthday Stan! Happy anniversary Stan and Lillian!

Rick Moran adds:

I have never seen the kind of relationship between Musial and the people of St. Louis anywhere else. Chicago has a similar relationship with Ernie Banks, the ex-Cub Hall of Famer, but perhaps because St. Louis is a much smaller town, the universal affection directed toward Stan Musial - the hero worship, the love shown by children whose parents weren't even born when he played - goes far beyond the game of baseball and makes Musial into something of a civic saint.

 
(1) Cobb, Ty. “They Don’t Play Baseball Anymore.” Life Magazine; March 17, 1952.
(2) Schoendienst, Red. “Red, A Baseball Life.” Champaign, Sports Publishing, 1998.
(3) Buck, Jack.. “That’s a Winner.” Chicago, Sagamore Publishing, 1997.

 
paboehmke@yahoo.com

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