Sunday, September 6, 2020

#250 Stan Musial

Stan Musial  St. Louis Cardinals

Career: Stan Musial, Hall of Famer and St. Louis institution. Hell, in many ways Stan Musial IS St. Louis.

I'll list his career accomplishments but a couple of things that jump out at me when I look at his stat page: 1) he was either an All-Star or received MVP votes in every full season he played, and 2) he hit .315 in 1942 at the age of 20 and hit .330 in 1962 at the age of 41! And yes, he played damn near every day in that '62 season.

Notable Achievements

  • 20-time NL All-Star (1943, 1944 & 1946-1963)
  • 3-time NL MVP (1943, 1946 & 1948)
  • 7-time NL Batting Average Leader (1943, 1946, 1948, 1950-1952 & 1957)
  • 6-time NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1943, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1953 & 1957)
  • 6-time NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1943, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1950 & 1952)
  • 7-time NL OPS Leader (1943, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952 & 1957)
  • NL At Bats Leader (1946)
  • 5-time NL Runs Scored Leader (1946, 1948, 1951, 1952 & 1954)
  • 6-time NL Hits Leader (1943, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1949 & 1952)
  • 6-time NL Total Bases Leader (1943, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1951 & 1952)
  • NL Singles Leader (1946)
  • 8-time NL Doubles Leader (1943, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1949 & 1952-1954)
  • 5-time NL Triples Leader (1943, 1946, 1948, 1949 & 1951)
  • 2-time NL RBI Leader (1948 & 1956)
  • NL Bases on Balls Leader (1953)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 10 (1948-1957)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 6 (1948, 1949, 1951 & 1953-1955)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 10 (1946, 1948-1951 & 1953-1957)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 11 (1943, 1944 & 1946-1954)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 6 (1943, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1951 & 1953)
  • Won three World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals (1942, 1944 & 1946)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1969 His page there

In 1960: Musial hit .275, sixty below his career average but twenty points better than he hit the previous year. His 387 plate appearances were the lowest of his career, and age had sapped some of his power as he totaled 17 homers. But anyone who thought he was done was mistaken.

He was an All-Star, and while he wasn't in the starting lineup for either game, he got a pinch-hitting shot in both. The results? A single in the Jully 11 game, and a homer in the on on the 13th.

Off The Charts: Stan's brother, Ed Musial, played four seasons of minor league ball between 1946 and 1950. He was, at least for part of that, in the Cubs' chain.

Some quotes from the Donora Pa. native's BullPen Wiki page at Baseball-Reference:

"I could always hit. It's not something I ever had to think too much about. A lot of guys are very scientific about it. It just seemed to come naturally, even when I was growing up." - Musial
"How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away." - Vin Scully
"Here stands baseball's happy warrior; here stands baseball's perfect knight." - Ford Frick dedicating the Stan Musial statue outside Busch Stadium

The Card: This combo (orange/green/yellow/white/black) seems to work well with some photos and not with others. It's standard for the Tigers and shows up 18 times in the set.

I like the cartoon here. It references The Man's seven batting crowns.

The photo, though, is a bit of a mystery. That's Seals Stadium in San Francisco, one of the more common photo locales for NLers in the '60 Topps set. That nails down the years of the pic to 1958 or 1959. What is strange is that there looks to be some sort of patch(?) on Musial's left sleeve.

St. Louis hadn't worn the 'script-front/bird sleeve patch' jerseys since the one year run in 1956. From the Hall of Fame's Uniform database:

Their 1958 and 1959 look was this:

So what's that on Stan's sleeve? That same Hall site has a listing of all memorial sleeve patches. Nothing noted for the Cards in that timeframe.

Looking closer at that section of the cards shows that there is something red on his sleeve. And that is the head of a 'Bird on a Bat' on his chest. (Hard to see on the card in hand).

So, I don't know what to think. Stray ink blob? Bloodstain? The card isn't obviously airbrushed or otherwise altered so that possibility is pretty remote. Plus, Topps did plenty of  'editing' on the b&w 'action' pics but next to nothing on the color, main photos. I don't know the answer and nobody else cares so it'll remain one of life's little mysteries.

Also noteworthy is that Seasons Highlights section that contains, not just big game production, but some super career milestones for Musial...400 dingers, 3200 hits, and the then-record 652 doubles. He finished with 725, 21 behind Pete Rose for the NL lead, and third all-time behind Rose and Tris Speaker's 792.


  1. I say it's part of the Cardinal head on the sleeve. I sometimes spot discrepancies in the Hall of Fame database. Not saying that's what's happening here but it's the most likely thing in my view.

    Also I love that quote from Musial. You don't hear talented people all that much talk about their ability by saying "I've just got it." But that's what it is, isn't it? Yeah, hard work and all that, but some people, in whatever their pursuit, simply were born with it.

    1. re: the sleeve....possibly the database is wrong. But I've never seen any photo of the Cards that shows anything on the sleeve on the jerseys with the Birds on a Bat front. Believe me, I dug and dug when I was doing this post.

  2. Wish I had the opportunity to watch guys like him and Williams hit... since they are often the guys Gwynn is compared to. The main difference is that Musial and Williams hit the long ball too.

  3. It looks to me like the start of his long sleeve red undershirt, taking over shere thecshort sleeve jersey ends.