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Musial was gentleman killer

Stan Musial's career statistics

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Stan was the man in St. Louis
By Nick Acocella
Special to

Signature Games
May 2, 1954 - Stan Musial was certainly the Man against the New York Giants today in St. Louis. When the day was over, he had become the first player to hit five home runs in a doubleheader.

After drawing a walk in the first inning, the Cardinals rightfielder hit a solo homer onto the roof of the rightfield pavilion of Busch Stadium (formerly known as Sportsman's Park) in the third off lefthander Johnny Antonelli. In the fifth he homered again off Antonelli to the same spot, this time with a man on. Then, after singling in the sixth, his ripped a three-run homer onto the roof, off Jim Hearn in the eighth inning, to break a 6-6 tie and lead St. Louis to a 10-6 victory.

In the nightcap, he walked and flied out before belting two homers off knuckleball pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, both onto the rightfield roof. His drive in the fifth was a two-run shot and in the seventh nobody was on base. In the ninth of the Cardinals' 9-7 defeat, Musial popped up.

Besides his five homers, Musial finished the day with nine runs batted in and 21 total bases.

Musial's record of five homers in a doubleheader was tied by San Diego's Nate Colbert in 1972.

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Musial played high school baseball in Donora, Pa., with Ken Griffey Sr.'s father.

  • A sign of Musial's greatness came in a doubleheader against the Cubs as a rookie in 1941. In the first game, he made two great catches, threw a runner out at home, collected two singles and a double, stole a base, and scored the winning run; in the nightcap, he had two more eye-catching defensive plays and two more singles. Cubs manager Jimmie Wilson observed, "Nobody can be that good."

  • In 1946, Musial -- after three of his teammates signed with the Mexican League -- rejected a lucrative offer from the newly formed circuit.

  • His .376 average in 1948 was the National League's highest since Pittsburgh's Arky Vaughan batted .385 in 1935.

  • Musial (1948) and Joe Medwick (1937) were the only players in the 20th century to lead the NL in as many as eight major hitting categories.

  • The respect accorded Musial was so great that, when Cincinnati fans stuffed the ballot boxes in 1957 to elect Reds players at seven positions, even the Reds faithful conceded that first base belonged to Musial.

  • In 1960, when manager Solly Hemus benched a slumping Musial for a month, St. Louis beat writers roasted Hemus.

  • On Sept. 10, 1963, Musial celebrated the birth of his first grandchild by hitting a home run that night.

  • When Musial retired after the 1963 season, he held 17 major league records, 24 NL marks and nine All-Star highs.

  • The model of consistency, Musial had a career average of at least .323 in every month of the season.

  • Although he never considered himself a power hitter, Musial reached double figures in homers in all 21 of his full seasons - and never struck out more than 46 times in one year.

  • Musial's 6,134 lifetime total bases are topped only by Hank Aaron's 6,856.

  • Musial played 1,898 games in the outfield and 1,016 at first base.

  • In four World Series, he batted .256 (22-for-86) with only one homer and eight runs batted in.

  • Musial, Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth are the only players to lead his league in extra-base hits seven times.

  • Musial enjoyed a postgame cigar and beer, but, in deference to younger fans, he refused to be photographed drinking or smoking.

  • Musial was The Sporting News' Player of the Year in 1946 and 1951. He was also Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in 1957. And The Sporting News picked him as Sportsman of the Decade for 1946-55.

  • After Musial hustled all the way to second base after a passed ball on a strikeout, Cincinnati manager Bucky Walters said, "That guy Musial is so good that even when he fans you're lucky to hold him to two bases."

  • Yogi Berra once interrupted an American League pre-All-Star Game planning session with this assessment: "You guys are trying to stop Musial in 15 minutes when the National League ain't stopped him in 15 years."

  • Former catcher Joe Garagiola's observation on Musial: "Stan comes sauntering up to the plate and asks me how my family's making out. Before I can answer him, he's on third base."

  • Even President John Kennedy had a famous Musial crack: In 1962, when Kennedy was 45 and Musial 41, he told the player, "A couple of years ago they told me I was too young to be President and you were too old to be playing baseball. But we fooled them."

  • At Musial's retirement dinner Pirates announcer Bob Prince cracked, "It's ridiculous that we are gathered here tonight to honor a man who made more than 7,000 outs."

  • Musial is the only major league general manager to win a pennant in his only year in the job, 1967 with the Cardinals.

  • Musial was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, in 1969.

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