Musial turned 90 on Sunday

what don't you know about him?

November 22, 2010

Great player, better guy

Peter Schmuck

Baltimore Sun

There is a lot people don't know about Stan "The Man" Musial because he spent his entire amazing career out of the national media spotlight. He was the most prolific hitter of his era in the National League, he was a champion of racial justice in baseball and he played for the St. Louis Cardinals, which meant he was never going to have the same big-city appeal as Mickey Mantle or some of the other greats from the middle of the 20th Century.

Didn't matter. Baseball fans knew he was one of the truly elite, and anyone who came in contact with him knew he was one of the all-time nice guys in professional sports.

I'm too young to remember him as a player, unless you're talking about him as baseball's resident harmonica virtuoso. He used to pull his harmonica out at every Hall of Fame induction ceremony and serenade the multitude. How could you not love a guy like that?

pschmuck@tribune.com

'The Man' for the ages

Keith Groller

Morning Call

Until looking closer at Stan Musial's life, I never knew why there were so many Cardinals fans, especially here in eastern Pennsylvania, the heart of Phillies and Yankees country.

But when you look at Musial's life and see that he once requested a pay cut — from $100,000 to $75,000 — after a mediocre season and he played an entire season while suffering from tonsillitis and appendicitis and hit .312, you see why the adulation spread thousands of miles from St. Louis.

Musial's numbers speak for themselves. Even the ever-crusty Ty Cobb praised him as one of the game's all-time best.

But the deeper you look at Musial's grace and elegance as a person, you realize "The Man" belongs in a bigger Hall of Fame than the one in Cooperstown.

kgroller@tribune.com

His call to arms

Mike DiGiovanna

Los Angeles Times

I would like to know more about the 1945 season Musial missed to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. I've always been fascinated by players such as Ted Williams and Bob Feller who chose or were forced to give up prime years of their playing careers to serve in the armed forces. For some reason, I just can't envision young stars such as Giants catcher Buster Posey or Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw giving up baseball to join the Marines and serve in Afghanistan.

I also would like to know more about the circumstances surrounding Musial's 1944 season, when he hit .347 to lead the Cardinals to the World Series championship. Musial underwent a physical examination in prelude to possible service before the season, and it appears he played the whole year with the possibility of being called away by the Navy at any time.

mdigiovanna@tribune.com

Ever the entertainer

Dave van Dyck

Chicago Tribune

If there was any mystery about Stan Musial, it's how he became such a good harmonica player. Yes, Stan Musial played the harmonica — and did it very well. In fact, he kept his teammates entertained in the clubhouse and on trips.

But thinking about Stan "The Man" and his happy harmonica only makes you wonder what happened to the enjoyable days of the '40s, '50s and '60s. Can you imagine Barry Bonds blowing ditties for his teammates? Musial and Ernie Banks — and most of their generation — were happier sorts. And they were just as good as, if not better than, anyone playing today.

Musial's great contribution to playing longevity was to lay on the clubhouse floor and put his legs up in the air, letting blood flow toward the heart again. It allowed him to make 24 All-Star Game appearances — and maybe even make happy tunes.

dvandyck@tribune.com

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