Stan Musial

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Stan "the Man" Musial was a professional baseball player who spent all of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, playing in 24 All-Star games during his 22-year career. He was one of the greatest hitters ever, rivaling and even surpassing Ted Williams and Babe Ruth according to some analysts. Musial had an unusual batting style that resembled a corkscrew as he unwound to hit the ball. He could hit to any field, and had better speed running the bases than Williams or Ruth had. Musial had many extraordinary seasons.[1]

Ty Cobb, the top vote-getter among the initial inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame, said about Stan Musial:[2]

No man has ever been a perfect ballplayer. Stan Musial, however, is the closest to being perfect in the game today.... He plays as hard when his club is away out in front of a game as he does when they're just a run or two behind.

He would supposedly gauge the speed of the ball thrown by the pitcher in its first 30 feet, and based on his memorization of the different speeds used by that pitcher Musial could predict whether the ball was a fastball, curve or slider. Then he could estimate how the ball would move as it approached the plate.

A devout Catholic, Musial was married for 72 years.[3]

The nickname "the Man" was given to Musial by Brooklyn fans, illustrating how much Musial was liked by many fans far from St. Louis. Musial was a big reason that the Cardinals attained a national following, despite being a small-market team.

A shoulder injury cut short Musial's pitching career, but the misfortune turned out to be an enormous benefit to him and to the baseball world.

Hitting style

Unlike Williams, Musial often hit to the opposite field. Indeed, he said that the first four to five years, he "didn't pull the ball." Musial explained further:[4]

My theory was relax, concentrate and don't hit the ball to center field. After about five years, I started pulling the ball. The toughest thing about hitting is trying to pull that outside pitch. That's where everybody makes outs now, trying to pull that pitch. After five years, I got more confidence. I was hitting .350 or whatever and started pulling the ball and hitting it out, so pulling the ball is a tough thing to do.

References

  1. http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/stan-musial-s-career-through-the-years/article_0965847f-f3f8-593c-95bb-c698fad6c25e.html
  2. Life Magazine, 1952, quoted in http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1493164-making-a-case-for-stan-musial-as-the-greatest-hitter-in-baseball-history
  3. http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20130119/SPORTS/130119692?Title=Stan-Musial-who-had-major-Daytona-Beach-connections-dead-at-92
  4. http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2009-07-10/talking-hitting-stan-musial-and-tony-gwynn

See also