Not a good weekend for baseball legends and pillars of the better baseballing community. After the patron saint of the morning link dump and unwitting sabrmetrician Earl Weaver passed away on Saturday, the game lost one of its greatest players and men with the passing of Stan Musial at the age of 92.
Stan Musial was one of the best players in the history of the game. Full stop. As many of the loving tributes written for the man over the past few days denote, Stan Musial was also a great man. Married to his wife for 72 years (!), Musial made friends and admirers at every turn. Non more notable than some of his peers during the early days of integration.
Jay Jaffe points out some of the more staggering feats accomplished on the field of play during Musial’s 22 year carer for Sports Illustrated. The numbers indeed inspire awe. Fourth on the all time hit list, second all time for total bases, third all time for doubles and extra base hits, 13th all time for walks, seven batting titles, six times leading the league in OBP and seven times posting the best OPS, the list goes on and on.
More than baseball, Musial is a legend in St. Louis. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes “[t]here has never been a more perfect union, a relationship between an athlete and a town, than Stan Musial and St. Louis.” Miklasz goes on to relay impressive stories of Musial overwhelming humanity, from supporting black teammates at the All Star game when no one else would to the tender love between he and his wife after more than 70 years together.
Joe Posnanski provides standard issue Joe Poz excellence when he writes a few thousand words on Musial, recalling his life and times and occasionally poking tiny holes in the deep Musial mythology – not that anything rotten lurks beneath the surface, but any story told for three generations tends to see its rough edges worn down.
Posnanski does pass along the best Musial story. An anecdotal quote attributed to the great Preacher Roe, who faced Musial as a member of the Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers. When asked how best to pitch to Musial, Roe simply replied “throw four wide ones and try to pick him off first.” Awesome.
The White House took time out of its busy Death Star debunking schedule to issue a statement on Musial’s passing. President Barack Obama awarded Musial with the Medal of Freedom – the highest honor bestowed upon civilians.
Big League Stew shares some terrific photos from Musial’s life and and career while David Schoenfield wonders if Musial wasn’t the greatest left fielder in the history of the game. Viva El Birdos discusses what it means to be a Cards fan who never saw Musial play, about his ability to melt the defenses of even the most ardent cynics.
There is so much to say about a man who lived a wonderful 92 years. There are soft-focus features and fawning tributes in every corner of the baseball world today. Rare is the case when, like in the instance of Stan Musial, are they both sincere and deserved. A celebration of a tremendous athlete who touched many lives, no need to over-complicate the matter. By all accounts, Stan Musial never did.
And the rest
Old Time Family Baseball held their annual blogathon this weekend to raise money for Doctors Without Borders. Some of the best contributions come from the usual suspects – Grant Brisbee’s love letter, Jeff Sullivan on chemistry, and Riley Breckenridge scouting Little Leaguers. It’s a great project, go check it out. [Old Time Family Baseball]