Here’s a continuation of some of the interesting material which I read about Stan Musial from the St. Louis Cardinals 2013 Yearbook and have been sharing through my blogs.
Of interest to Donora natives: In October of 1948, Musial announced plans to buy a home in the St. Louis area. He said he would then spend his offseasons there rather than in his hometown or in Florida. However, he never forgot or abandoned his Donora roots, coming back, for example, to many of his class reunions.
On August 21, 1949, Musial was honored in between games of a double header at Forbes Field. A group of 15 Donora business men arranged to get a new Cadillac for The Man.
July 1, 1951: Musial homered in the sixth inning versus the Pirates, helping the Cards force the game into extra innings. In the 12th, the Bucs, fearing and respecting Musial, gave him an intentional walk with two out and nobody on base–allowing the potential winning run to get on base rather than try to retire him. The move backfired when Stan stole second and scored on a double to win it.
Three years later on May 22nd another opposing manager tried some unusual strategy against Musial–in fact, The Sporting News stated the move was likely the first time any team employed the tactic. Cincinnati manager Birdie Tebbetts replaced his shortstop with an extra outfielder and stationed him in deep right-centerfield. This time the drama ended when Stan struck out.
On August 26, 1957, Musial made a trip to Washington, Pa. (during a Cardinals visit to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates) to see Donora’s team play in the PONY League tournament. His nephew, Elmer Hall, was the Donora catcher that day.
Early in 1960, The Sporting News named Musial and Ted Williams as the two best hitters of the previous 10-year period, just as they had been for the decade of the 1940s. In the Fifties Williams hit .336 on 1,068 hits; Musial hit .330 on 1,771 hits after hitting a lusty .346 in the Forties. He would finish his illustrious career with a .331 batting average, one of the highest in baseball history.
The Sporting News also reported Stan remained the NL’s highest paid player in ’60, and that his earnings now made him the first NL player to reach millionaire status based on his cumulative salaries. According to that publication and figures from baseball reference, counting his minor league earnings which began with a $227 Class D contract, Musial wound up earning $1,258,177 for his playing days.
In his next to last season, 1962, old records fell like coffee from an overfilled cup of java in an old man’s hand. Musial set the MLB mark for total bases and NL records for hits, ribbies, runs, and games played. He already owned NL records for doubles, total bases, and extra base hits.
That was also the season in which Musial stated that, as has been claimed about Williams, that he could “see the bat meet the ball” many times. He said his hitting strategy included setting “up a zone about eight or 10 feet in front of the plate, and that’s the area I concentrate on.” He added, “As soon as the ball enters that area, I can tell if it’s a fastball or curve, not by the rotation, but by the speed.”
On Memorial Day of 1963, Musial was involved in a highly unusual play. The game was tied in the last half of the ninth and there were Cardinals on every base with no outs. That’s when he lifted a pop fly not far from second base. The umpire ruled him out on the infield fly rule. However, when no Giants player caught the ball, Curt Flood tagged from third and scored the winning run, giving Musial an RBI, his 23rd of the month.