Cooperstown Connection: For Stan Musial, Character is Far More Important than the Game of Baseball
By Editorial Staff
During his legendary 22-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941 to 1963, Stan Musial accumulated a .331 batting average, 3,630 hits, 475 home runs, 1,951 RBI’s, three MVP awards, 24 All-Star selections, and three World Series Championships. Stan “The Man” also won seven batting titles and fell just one home run shy of winning baseball’s Triple Crown in 1948. With this being said it is easy to see why Musial was a first ballot Hall of Famer in 1969 and selected for the MLB All-Century Team in 1999.
While Musial’s incredible talent proved to be one of a kind, his flawless character and admirable selflessness was what truly set him apart from the other legends of his time such as Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. […]
Stan was always willing to do anything for the betterment of the team and he would always put team success before his individual success as a player. This quality is seldom seen in today’s professional athletes because they let money and fame get to their head, which is simply disappointing and inexcusable.
Musial showed his commitment to the team right from the start when he severely injured his throwing arm during his pitching days as a young prospect for the Cards. When many thought that his career was over, Stan was still able to hit just fine and he soon realized that his arm would eventually improve to the point where he could at least play the outfield.
When he returned from World War II service in the Navy and the Cardinals asked him to play 1st base for a new starter who wasn’t meeting expectations, Musial accepted his new role with open arms and great confidence. Over time, he found himself playing every outfield position along with first base and never once did he let this affect his performance offensively. Musial’s team oriented attitude brought great flexibility to the Cardinals roster and built solid chemistry among his teammates.
For many players (former and current), baseball is all about the money, but for Stan, it was so much more. At the end of his rookie year, he had just $5 in his bank account. Can you imagine an athlete at any level in any sport with only $5 in their bank account in today’s world? That just sounds ridiculous.
For his first few seasons in the big leagues, Musial received an annual salary of $13,500, which, even back then, was not a lot of money at all. He quickly got an offer for a huge raise if he would just go to play in the American League, but he resisted the temptation. Soon after he became the first player in the National League to earn $100,000, he was handed a signed check by the Cardinals owner and told to fill in the amount he desired. What did Musial do? He wrote the same exact salary that he had made the year before.
Stan “The Man” was also known for sticking around for up to an hour after the game to sign autographs for the fans, even in the unbearable summer heat. He knew how crucial the fans were to the game of baseball, so he chose to repay them for their constant support whenever possible.
It didn’t matter whether it was behind closed doors or in the open spotlight; Musial consistently set a good example for everyone who looked up to him as a role model. The fact that he was never thrown out by an umpire during his 3,026 games in Major League Baseball is a testament to the kind of player he was. Throughout his career, Musial took part in many charity events across the country to give back to the community as well.
Stan “The Man” Musial set the standard for how athletes should conduct themselves both on and off the field. At a time when baseball is having major image issues due to ongoing steroid allegations, it seems that there will never be anyone quite like Stan Musial in the future. With the Hall of Fame inductions this weekend, it is important to recognize and honor all that Stan “The Man” has done for the game. There has never been, and perhaps never will be, an athlete with the remarkable combination of pure ability and unprecedented character like Stan “The Man” Musial.