Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial dies at age 92

By R.b. Fallstrom

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Jan. 20 2013 1:30 p.m. MST

Like DiMaggio and Williams, Musial embodied a time when the greats stayed with one team. He joined the Cardinals during the last remnants of the Gas House Gang and stayed in St. Louis until Gibson and Curt Flood ushered in a new era of greatness.

"Sad to hear about Stan the Man, it's an honor to wear the same uniform," current Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday tweeted.

The only year Musial missed with the Cardinals was 1945, when he was in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was based in Pearl Harbor, assigned to a unit that helped with ship repair.

Before and after his military service, he was a star hitter.

"St. Louis has been lucky to have a player like Stan Musial. He will always be Mr. Baseball," Hall of Fame Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog said. "It's a very big loss. You can go around the world and you'll never find a better human being than Stan Musial."

Musial was the NL MVP in 1943, 1946 and 1948, and was runner-up four other years. He enjoyed a career remarkably free of slumps, controversies or rivalries.

"Stan was a favorite in Cooperstown, from his harmonica rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' during Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, to the reverence he commanded among other Hall of Fame members and all fans of the game. More than just a baseball hero, Stan was an American icon and we will very much miss him in Cooperstown," Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.

The Cardinals were dominant early in Musial's career. They beat DiMaggio and the Yankees in the 1942 World Series, lost to the Yankees the next year and defeated the St. Louis Browns in 1944. In 1946, the Cardinals beat Williams and the visiting Red Sox in Game 7 at Sportsman's Park.

Musial, mostly a left fielder then, starred with Terry Moore in center and Slaughter, another future Hall of Famer, in right, making up one of baseball's greatest outfields. Later on, Musial would switch between the outfield and first base.

Musial never played on another pennant winner after 1946. Yet even after the likes of Mays, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron came to the majors, Musial remained among baseball's best.

The original Musial statue outside the new Busch Stadium is a popular meeting place before games and carries this inscription: "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight."

"Everybody's a Musial fan," Herzog once said.

Musial gave the press little to write about beyond his grace and greatness on the field. He didn't date movie stars, spike opponents or chew out reporters or umpires.

In 1958, he reached the 3,000-hit level and became the NL's first $100,000-a-year player. Years earlier, he had turned down a huge offer to join the short-lived Mexican League. He never showed resentment over the multimillion dollar salaries of modern players. He thought they had more fun in his days.

"I enjoyed coming to the ballpark every day and I think we enjoyed the game," Musial said in a 1991 Associated Press interview. "We had a lot of train travel, so we had more time together. We socialized quite a bit and we'd go out after ballgames."

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969, his first year of eligibility.

"It was, you know, a dream come true," Musial once said. "I always wanted to be a ballplayer."

After retiring as a player, Musial served for years in the Cardinals' front office, including as general manager in 1967, when the Cardinals won the World Series.

In the 1970s, he occasionally played in Old-Timers' Day games and could still line the ball to the wall. He was a fixture for decades at the Cooperstown induction ceremonies and also was a member of the Hall's Veterans Committee. Often, after the Vets panel had voted, he'd pull out a harmonica conveniently located in his jacket pocket and lead the other members in a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

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