Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Stanislaus Frank Musial (born November 21, 1920), nicknamed "Stan the Man", is a Polish-American former player in Major League Baseball who played 22 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941 to 1963.
Born in Donora, Pennsylvania, his father, Lukasz, was a Polish immigrant; his mother, Mary, was the daughter of Czech immigrants. Musial started his career as a pitcher but after a shoulder injury moved to the outfield permanently in 1940. On his 19th birthday, he married Lillian Labash, who was pregnant at the time with the first of their 4 children.
Musial played 1,890 games in the outfield and 1,016 games at first base, but was primarily known for his hitting. The left-hander led the National League in hitting seven times and in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and hits six times each. He won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1943, 1946, and 1948, and in 1957, received Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award. His 3,630 career hits ranks fourth all-time, behind Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, and Hank Aaron, and his .331 career batting average ranks 30th.
His hitting was also very consistent. He had exactly the same number of hits in home and away games, and batted .336 at home and .326 on the road. In day games, he batted .340 and batted .320 at night.
Musial once said, "I consciously memorized the speed at which every pitcher in the league threw his fastball, curve, and slider; then, I'd pick up the speed of the ball in the first thirty feet of its flight and knew how it would move once it had crossed the plate."
Former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Carl Erksine once humorously described his strategy of pitching to Musial: "I've had pretty good success with Stan by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third."
Like many American baseball players, Musial spent part of his career serving in World War II, missing the 1945 season to serve as a seaman first class in the United States Navy from January 1945 to March 1946.
At the time of his retirement in 1963, Musial held 17 major league, 29 National League, and 9 All-Star game records. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1969.
Musial played in 24 All-Star games and the Cardinals retired his uniform number 6 at the end of the 1963 season. A statue of Musial was erected outside of Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri in 1968. It is inscribed with a quote from former baseball commissioner Ford Frick: "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight."
At the 1962 All-Star Game, U.S. President John F. Kennedy said to Musial, "A couple of years ago they told me I was too young to be president and you were too old to be playing baseball. But we fooled them."
Sportscaster Bob Costas praised Musial at the expense of his contemporaries: "He didn't hit a homer in his last at-bat (like Ted Williams); he hit a single. He didn't hit in 56 straight games. He married his high school sweetheart and stayed married to her, never married a Marilyn Monroe (like Joe DiMaggio). He didn't play with the sheer joy and style that goes alongside Willie Mays' name. None of those easy things are there to associate with Stan Musial. All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being."
Sabermetrician Bill James made a similar comment: "[Musial] was never colorful, never much of an interview. He makes a better statue. What he was was a ballplayer. He didn't spit at fans, he didn't get into fights in nightclubs, he didn't marry anybody famous. He hustled. You look at his career totals of doubles and triples, and they'll remind you of something that was accepted while he was active, and has been largely forgotten since: Stan Musial was one player who always left the batter's box on a dead run."
Following his retirement Musial has been a successful businessman and restaurateur, and remains a popular fixture in the St. Louis area.
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