As a youngster I loved baseball and like all boys who followed baseball, I had my favorite players. My favorites were Mickey Mantle and two guys that few people followed. They were Joe Adcock, the Milwaukee Braves big first baseman, and Rocky Colavito, a power-hitting outfielder for the Tigers and Indians.
In those days there was only one game per week on TV and that was a Saturday afternoon broadcast with Dizzy Dean and Buddy Blatner calling the action. Pee Wee Reese later replaced Blatner but ole Diz was there for many years.
I never missed that Saturday Game-of-the-Week and that’s basically how I kept up with the players. My only other method was to scour the box scores in the Atlanta Journal everyday. And then in 1957 came baseball cards. That was my first year of collecting cards and I didn’t get to buy too many.
For the reasons listed above, I never knew too much about Stan Musial as a boy. Oh, I knew that he was a good player for the Cardinals, but I never knew just how great he was. He wasn’t on TV that much and he wasn’t on baseball cards for many years.
Musial wasn’t on baseball cards from 1955-58. Players had personal contracts with Topps to print their cards and Musial would not sign a contract until 1958. He appeared on cards from then until he retired. I still have those cards.
Stan Musial died last Saturday at the age of 92. He was one of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball. He also may be the most underrated and unappreciated player in baseball history.
Just look at Musial’s career numbers. He played from 1941 through 1963, a total of 23 seasons, all for the St. Louis Cardinals. His largest salary was only $100,000. He led the Cardinals to three World Championships, was the National League Most Valuable Player three times, and appeared in 24 All-Star games.
Musial led the National League in hitting seven times and finished with a career .331 batting average. He hit over .300 each season for the first 17 years of his career and amazingly hit .330 with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs at the age of 41. He hit over .340 seven times in his career and had over 200 hits in five seasons.
One amazing stat in Musial’s career is that he had 3,630 career hits, 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road. What a great hitter!
He didn’t play in New York or Boston, so he didn’t get the attention or acclaim that players in those venues got. Just look at his career though and you will hopefully see that Stan “The Man” Musial is one of the five or six greatest players in baseball history.
He ranks right there with Ruth, Gehrig, Williams, etc. but he didn’t get the attention. In my opinion he is the greatest hitter in National League history. Yep, better than Aaron!We lost a great one when he passed away.
On the same day we lost another Hall of Famer when former Baltimore Oriole manager Earl Weaver passed away. Weaver was a fiesty skipper who was renowned for his bouts with umpires and his love of the three-run home run. His arguments with umpires are legendary and his antics are almost hysterical. They probably overshadow just how great a manager he was.
Weaver, who was 82, led the Orioles to four pennants and the 1970 World Series championship. He fashioned five 100-win seasons and is the all-time American League leader in ejections. He was kicked out of 94 regular season games. He was thrown out of both games of a double-header three times and was ejected from a game before it ever started on two occasions.
One interesting thing about Weaver is that managed two minor league teams in Georgia. He managed in Fitzgerald in 1957 and in Dublin in 1958, both in the old Georgia-Florida League.
As more and more of our old-time greats pass away it brings to my attention how great many of these players were. These guys loved the game, didn’t just play for the money, and stayed on one team for many years.
Musial and Weaver were great ambassadors for baseball. They will be missed.