"The Man" - Stan Musial - 1920-2013
Will Rossmiller
wross460@uwsp.edu - twitter @willrossmiller

“Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.”

This quote, from former MLB commissioner Ford Frick, is engraved on the bottom of the Stan Musial statue outside of the left-field entrance to Busch Stadium. Truer words have never been spoken.

Last Saturday, Stanley “Stan” Frank Musial passed away at the age of 92. Musial, a Hall of Famer, is viewed as the greatest to ever wear a St. Louis Cardinals uniform.

Based on numbers and accolades alone, Stan “The Man” is one of the greatest to ever pick up a baseball bat.

In his 22-year career with the Cardinals, Musial totaled 3,630 hits—still fourth of all time—475 home runs and appeared in a record twenty-four all-star games.

Musial was the first National League player to win three MVP awards, finishing 2nd four times and gathering seven batting titles.

A master of consistency, Musial ended his career with the same number of hits at home, 1,815, as he had in away games. Musial never struck out more than 40 times in a season until he was 41 years old.

Dodger’s announcer Vin Scully once said about Musial, “How good was Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away.”

Stan Musial died on January 19th, 2013.
Photo courtesy of Bowman Gum.

Accolades and statistics are great, but what really set Musial apart from other professional athletes was that his character and integrity outshined his gift of hitting a baseball.

At Musial’s funeral, this past Saturday, Bob Costas gave a touching eulogy on his experiences with Musial. Costas recalled having a conversation with Yankees legend, Mickey Mantle.

“Stan was a better player than me because he's a better man than me,” Mantle said.

In a sports world where cheating and lying is the norm, Musial was truly void of any controversy in his playing career and after retirement.

“Forget about baseball, he was just a solid human being,” said Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Musial married his high school sweetheart, Lil, and stayed married for more than 70 years until Lil’s death this past May.

During the prime of his playing career, Musial decided to assist his country by joining the United States Navy, serving for one year and missing the 1945 season.

Musial’s kindness showed through when signing autographs. He would sign every single ball, photo or piece of paper until each person received an autograph.

His smile brightened up the whole room, and the harmonica he played from time to time put smiles on the faces of all those around him.

The matrimony between the city of St. Louis and Musial was a match made in baseball heaven. In a city where fans love their baseball players more than some family members, Musial loved the fans to an equal extent.

With its tribute to Musial, Sports Illustrated had a quote that didn’t have an origin, but its message is the best way to sum up the bond between St. Louis and Musial: "It seemed that Musial hadn't simply come to St. Louis, but that Rockwell had painted him there.”

Rockwell is the famous painter who portrayed the classic American lifestyle in his art.

The quote is basically saying that Stan Musial is as synonymous with St. Louis as America is with apple pie.

Musial’s passing was so sad for friends because he wasn’t just a role model for baseball players; he was an example of how to be an outstanding individual.

He was, in every sense of the saying, the man.