Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stan the Man Turns 89 Today

Today, Stan Musial is 89 years old.

Stan the Man was truly one of a kind. He had the kind of career that most ballplayers can only dream of. He played 22 seasons of professional baseball — FDR was in the White House when Musial's career began and JFK was in the White House when his career ended. He played in more than 3,000 games, hit 475 home runs and had a batting average of .331.

It's been nearly half a century since Stan played for the Cardinals, but they still love him in St. Louis. There's a statue that stood outside the old Busch Memorial Stadium — and now, I think, stands in front of the new Busch Stadium — of Stan in his batting stance.

My best friend and I once posed in front of that statue. If you look to the right, you can see what we looked like about 20 years ago!

Musial was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969, the first year he was eligible. Last summer, Musial gave the ball to Barack Obama to make the ceremonial first pitch at the All–Star Game at the new Busch Stadium. Musial seemed to be healthy, but he remained seated in the golf cart in which he was riding through the pregame festivities. The Cardinals' fans didn't seem to mind. They cheered for him as if he had just hit a game–winning home run

I agree with veteran sportswriter Jayson Stark, who wrote of Musial, "I can't think of any all–time great in any sport who gets left out of more who's–the–greatest conversations than Stan Musial."

He played in the same era as some of baseball's most elite talents — Ted Williams, JoeDiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays — and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with any of them.

Anyway, today is his day.

Happy birthday, Stan.

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