The history of baseball is filled with legendary figures from Cobb, Ruth, DiMaggio and Williams to Aaron, Mays, Clemente and Griffey. One baseball legend who transcended generations was the great Stan “The Man” Musial, who passed away Saturday at the age of 92.
Musial made his debut during the magical 1941 season, which seems fitting for a player who would become an all-time great.
In the months before Pearl Harbor and America’s entrance into World War II, the country was fixated on baseball and captivated by a pair of stars who were doing magical things with a bat.
Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees parlayed a record 56-game hitting streak into the MVP season. Ted Williams “The Splendid Splinter” ran away with baseball’s batting crown with a .406 average. No one could have predicted that more than 70 years later both records would remain unmatched across the annals of baseball.
Musial’s major league debut came in the second game of a doubleheader on September 17, 1941. He got two hits as the Cardinals defeated the Boston Braves 3-2.
That debut occurred barely a year after it was feared Musial’s career might be over before it started. Originally signed from his hometown of Denora, Pennsylvania as a pitcher and outfielder, Musial was playing for Daytona in the Florida State League when he jammed his left shoulder diving for a ball and was no longer able to pitch. However, little more than a year later he was thrust into a playoff race as a late-season call-up of the Cardinals.
When Musial made his debut, the Cardinals were on their way to an impressive 97-56 record, but were a game behind the first place Brooklyn Dodgers. They were 7-5 in the final 12 games, with Musial playing in all 12, and ended the season 2.5 games behind the Dodgers and their 100-54 record. Read the rest of this entry →