Story of the Week
He holds the modern National League record for most years (17) and consecutive years (16) hitting .300 or better. He was the league MVP three times during his career. On March 14, I wrote that Ted Williams is arguably the greatest hitter in baseball history. The subject of this week’s article is arguably a close second. His name is Stan Musial.
In the bottom of the 12th. inning of the 1955 All-Star Game, ‘Yogi’ Berra complained, "My feet are killing me." Stan Musial told Berra, "Relax. I’ll have you home soon." He hit a home run on the next pitch to win the game.
Musial’s magic lit up 24 All-Star Games, and he holds the record for most All-Star home runs (6), extra-base hits (8), and total bases (40). During the regular season, Stan won seven batting titles, and had a lifetime average of .331, with 475 home runs and 1,951 RBI’s.
Musial’s bat and glove helped the Cardinals reign over the National League in the early-1940’s. During that decade, they won four pennants and three World Series.
Stan actually started his career as a pitcher. In 1940, he was 18-5 in the Florida State League when he injured his throwing arm, his left arm. His hitting got him to the "Show" in 1941.
In 22 seasons as a Cardinal, he led the league in runs scored five times, and led the major leagues in total bases six times. At his retirement, after the 1963 season, he held major league records for most extra-base hits and total bases, and National League records for runs, hits, doubles, and RBI’s.
Musial had an unorthodox stance, and very quick wrists. He also attributes his success to his consciously memorizing the speed at which every pitcher threw his fastball, curve and slider. He said he would pick up the speed of the ball in the first thirty feet of its flight, and he knew how it would move once it arrived at the plate.
I lived in St. Louis the first 13 years of my life. I still remember the thrill of getting to Cardinals games early to watch Stan take batting practice at old Sportsman’s Park. He, with that coiled stance and great bat-speed, hit many balls against the Pavillion screen in right field, or simply on the roof of that structure. And the ball wasted absolutely no time getting there.
The Cardinals honored Stan with a statue outside Busch Memorial Stadium in 1968. And major league baseball honored Musial with induction into the Hall of Fame in 1969. Oh, the records he would set today hitting the juiced-up baseballs thrown by the watered-down pitchers known as major-leaguers.
Last Week’s Trivia
His given name was Bobby Moore. You know him by another name. Who is he? He’s Ahmad Rashad. He went from an All-Pro wide receiver to a top-rated sports announcer.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who are the only three players in NBA history to average 20 points and 20 rebounds per game for an entire season? One of them is a given. See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.