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Stan Musial was as good as it gets, and he captured the Midwest's heart

New York gave us great teams and great legends. But New York never gave us a better ballplayer than Stan Musial. And no ballplayer ever meant more to a city than Stan the Man meant to St. Louis.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 20, 2013
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photo - In this May 22, 1946 file photo, St. Louis Cardinals' Stan Musial bats against the Philadelphia Phillies during a baseball game at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Pa. Musial, one of baseball's greatest hitters and a Hall of Famer with the Cardinals for more than two decades, died Saturday, Jan 19, 2013, the team announced. He was 92. (AP Photo/Warren M. Winterbottom, File)
In this May 22, 1946 file photo, St. Louis Cardinals' Stan Musial bats against the Philadelphia Phillies during a baseball game at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Pa. Musial, one of baseball's greatest hitters and a Hall of Famer with the Cardinals for more than two decades, died Saturday, Jan 19, 2013, the team announced. He was 92. (AP Photo/Warren M. Winterbottom, File)

Baseball historian Bill James has called Musial the most respected player of the postwar era. By the press, by the fans, by the fellow players. More respected than Mays or Mantle or Ted Williams or Pete Rose or anyone.

“What he was was a ballplayer,” James wrote. “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.”

On baseball's all-time extra-base hit list, Musial ranks third. Hank Aaron had 1,477, Barry Bonds had 1,440 and Musial had 1,377.

Fifteen years ago, I chatted with Ada's Harry Brecheen, the Cardinal pitching star of the 1946 World Series. Harry the Cat's favorite teammate was Musial.

“I saw every day how great he was,” Brecheen said. “He came out and played every day. Nowadays, there's so many pulled muscles, you don't know who's going to play.”

Musial's last season came 50 years ago. 1963. Time has faded Musial's glory, except for those of a certain age and in a certain part of this country.

But you still can go into barbershops throughout Missouri, or maybe even its surrounding states, and drop the names of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, and you better be prepared.

You're going to hear about Stan the Man.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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