Stanley Frank Musial, was also known as “Stan the Man,” was a legendary American baseball player. He spent 22 seasons in the MLB, primarily with the St Louis Cardinals, and holds numerous records, including for career hits and runs batted in. Musial was a seven-time batting champion, a three-time MVP, and a member of three World Series championship teams. He was welcomed into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 and shares the record for the most All-Star Games played with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
His Early Life
Born in Donora, Pennsylvania, Musial was the fifth of six children of Lukasz Musial and Mary Lancos. His father, a Polish immigrant, nicknamed him Stasiu. Musial grew up playing baseball with his brother and friends and was coached by neighbour Joe Barbao, a former minor league pitcher.
He joined the Donora Zincs semi-pro team at age 15, striking out 13 batters in his debut. Musial also played on the revived Donora High School baseball team where he was teammates with Buddy Griffey, father of MLB player Ken Griffey Sr.
Where It All Started In His Career
Starting as a pitcher, Musial switched to the outfield due to a sore arm and debuted in the MLB in 1941 for the St Louis Cardinals. Along with Terry Moore and Enos Slaughter, he formed a top-notch outfield combo and played a crucial role in the team’s 1942 World Series win. Musial’s career soared in 1943, as he won the NL MVP award at just 22 years old, leading the league in hits and batting average.
He enlisted in the Navy during WWII but returned in 1946 to win his second MVP award and help secure the Cardinals’ third championship in five years. Musial’s peak season was in 1948, with career-highs in batting average, hits, runs, and RBIs. Despite the Cardinals’ lackluster performance in the 1950s, Musial remained the kind of standout player that anyone looking for baseball or golf betting odds would keep an eye on, leading the league in various categories several times.
In September 1963, Musial was appointed vice president of the St Louis Cardinals, a position he held until the end of the 1966 season. From February 1964 to January 1967, he also served as President Lyndon B Johnson’s physical fitness adviser, a role he took on part-time to encourage better fitness among Americans.
Prior to the 1967 season, Musial became the Cardinals’ general manager overseeing their World Series win that year. He gained the loyalty of Cardinals players by making fair offers during contract negotiations and creating an in-stadium babysitting service for players’ wives to attend games.
After his longtime business partner, Biggie Garagnani, passed away in June 1967, Musial dedicated more time to managing his restaurant and other business interests. He realised that the desk job of a general manager was not his strength and decided to step down from the position before completing a full year.
In addition to his baseball career, Musial was well-known for playing the harmonica, including his rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” He frequently played at public events throughout the 1990s and recorded 18 songs with a harmonica-playing instruction booklet in 1994.