Cathedral in the clouds

Stanisław Franciszek Musial was born in Donora, Pa., in 1920, the fifth child of six.

He eventually played for his local high school team (DHS) and shortly afterward was signed (as a pitcher) by the Cardinals, who soon recognized another "Babe" type hitter but with a coiled snake stance and converted him into an outfielder.

By the time Stan retired after the 1963 season, he had set or tied over 50 records, some NL, some MLB, some All-star. And he still owns some of them!

Tidbits is what I do - Stan still holds the record for lifetime All-star homers with six. He became MLB's first ever player to hit five homers in a doubleheader in 1954, and as my father told me, it was a birthday present for me (it happened on my 4th birthday). It has only been duplicated once, since that time! (Nate Colbert in 1972).

A totally genuine and modest monument of a player, Stan even took issue when in 1952, Ty Cobb told Life magazine that Stan was better than Joe DiMaggio in his prime! Stan flatly said Ty exaggerated.

In 1955, after Cincinnati fans stuffed the ballot box to start Ted Kluzewski (an excellent all-star) over him at first base in the All-star game, Stan kept the high road, saying nothing negative about it. But when he got into the game as a 4th inning pinch hitter, he played the rest of the game which went to the twelfth inning and - you guessed it - he won the game with a walk-off homer!

At age 41 in 1962, Stan became the oldest player ever to hit three homers in one game - and he did it vs the Mets at the old Polo grounds (on July 8).

Needless to say but Stan was a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

And consistency - yes, older guaranteed first ballot HoFers often got voted to the All-star games as a "thank you" for a great career - but there are three HoFers with 24 All-star games each on their resume' and they are named Mays, Aaron and Musial. Next is all the way back at 18.

Most people remember the 1999 "love in" for Ted Williams at the Fenway Park ASG in 1999, and similarly in 2007 with Willie in San Francisco - but in 2009 in St. Louis (and I went ballistic about this), there was no similar such fanfare in St. Louis for Stan the Man (whose nickname was given to him by the Brooklyn Dodger fans!). Instead, we got President Obama throwing out the first ball!

Stan took it like, well, a man! But the President (got my tweet?) and in a ceremony on February 15, 2011, he awarded Stan Musial the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor there is! And he was effusive in his praise for Stan the ballplayer, Stan the role Model, and of course, Stan the Man!

And now, as if we needed a double dose of sadness, comes the same 24 hour period where we lost Earl Weaver, sadly, on a cruise associated with the Orioles team - an Oriole to the end!

Earl was small guy in stature who made up for it with guile and bluster, especially against umpires, especially also against Ron Luciano (author of the Umpire Strikes Back), who predeceased him.

Earl was worried that Ron would be at St. Peter's gate, telling him that up in Heaven, ALL calls are final! So he prepared his "where's my pitchfork" speech (did he read Milton?) - but he calmed down with the thought: All umpires go to hell, especially if they listened to his advice to them!

Earl invented the phrases: "momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher" and "winning comes from pitching and three run homers".

In an earlier tidbit article, I recounted the day when Earl had been tossed from 1969 WS game 4, that the Mets won on a bogus non-call when JC Martin was HIT with a throw to first in fair territory (an automatic out in the regular season). And sadly, no call had ever been reversed in WS history. Now we have replay, but that call was judgement (as was Jeter's kid assisted homer vs the Orioles in the 1996 playoffs).

I can't say that I loved, or even liked Earl - but damn! He was one of the best managers of my era.

I certainly respect a formidable enemy.

I hope that BronxGoblin can print my computer file to show today's youth what Stan looked like in his playing days.

ESPN already has their Stan Musial obit/memorial out and it's currently available on U-tube: Click Here


MATSUIFAN INC. 2007