When I was 16, my dad and I had the privilege of sitting next to Musial for a few innings at a Cardinals game. It was a very memorable day, we spent a lot of the time talking about baseball during World War II and the 1944 all-St. Louis World Series. Anyway, of the few celebrities I've met, he was by far the friendliest and easiest to talk to.
Here is a column from someone at ESPN about Musial, arguably the most underappreciated and underrated player in the game's history:
In his 2000 edition of Baseball Abstract, James put Musial behind Babe Ruth (1), who was followed in order by Honus Wagner, Willie Mays, Oscar Charleston, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Walter Johnson and Josh Gibson. Musial was next, directly ahead of such indubitable lights as Tris Speaker (11), Hank Aaron (12), Joe DiMaggio (13) and Lou Gehrig (14), with Mike Schmidt (21), Rogers Hornsby (22) and Frank Robinson (24) further back.
Musial retired at the end of the 1963 season, but nearly a half-century later, he still is second in total bases with 6,134, behind Aaron (6,856) and just ahead of Mays (6,066). No active ballplayer is even close, and Musial left the game well ahead of Cobb, Ruth, Pete Rose and Carl Yastrzemski.
In the realm of all-time leaders, Musial is fourth in hits with 3,630, sixth in RBIs with 1,951, ninth in runs scored with 1,949, third in extra-base hits with 1,377, third in doubles with 725 and tied for 19th (with Rabbit Maranville) in triples, although again, it is only fair to point out that 10 of those ahead of him in three-baggers began their careers when triples were as plentiful as buffalo, and no less endangered, in the years immediately following Custer's Last Stand.
His ratio of at-bats to strikeouts also is among the best in the history of the majors. Here is one you would not have guessed: Musial had 3,266 more at-bats than Williams but 13 fewer strikeouts (696 for Musial, 709 for Williams), and Williams owned a pair of the most famously discriminating batting eyes in the game. And while Musial ranks 28th in home runs, tied with Willie Stargell at 475, his true place in that pantheon is difficult to fathom in the wake of the recent orgies of chemical enhancement.
All that said, the combined weights of the Musial numbers bear James out, and they certainly give powerful affirmation to those many voices along the Mississippi Valley that have been crying for years that Stan was The Man. So it always has been something of a mystery why Musial -- as generous and decent a man off the field as he was brilliant and dependable on it -- has spent so many years sunk in the shadows of baseball history, a giant often either forgotten or dismissed whenever the sports-talk junkies summon the names of baseball's finest hitters and all-around players.
This unwarranted neglect has become manifest at the game's grassroots. When Sports Illustrated had fans pick a 20th century all-star team at the end of the millennium, they voted Musial 10th among outfielders. ESPN television failed to put him among the top 50 athletes of the 20th century. When MasterCard and professional baseball assembled their All-Century team in 1999, the voting masses virtually ignored Musial; ultimately, an "oversight committee" slipped him onto the roster.
1. He had 1815 career hits on the road and 1815 career hits at home.
2. He inspired more "...and as good as he was on the field, Musial was an even better man off it..." sentences from sportswriters than any other ballplayer.
"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone." --- Bart Giamatti, on baseball
Interesting follow-up....the Blue Jays dealt Michael Taylor to Oakland for Brett Wallace, who was the big centerpiece of the Matt Holliday trade last summer. Hopefully at least a couple of these prospects end up becoming good-to-very good (or great)