Two baseball icons passed away on Saturday - Stan "The Man" Musial and Earl Weaver. Musial was an amazing baseball player with a special, humble demeanor, and if you haven't read it yet, I'd highly recommend this piece by Joe Posnanski
from a couple years ago (warning: it's a bit long). Here's a few excerpts that tell some Musial stories:
It was April 18, 1954, in Chicago. The Cardinals trailed 3--0 in the seventh, and lefty Paul Minner was on the mound. There was a man on first, one out, when Musial smacked a double down the rightfield line. Or, anyway, the Cardinals thought it was a double. Wally Moon, the man on first, ran around the bases to score. Musial stood happily at second. The Cardinals' bench cheered. And apparently nobody noticed that first base umpire Lee Ballanfant had called the ball foul.
No footage of the play remains, of course, so we only get what we can read in the newspaper reports: Apparently the ball was definitively fair. Cardinals players came racing out of the dugout to go after Ballanfant, starting with shortstop Solly Hemus. Donatelli, the crew chief, who was behind home plate (and who apparently realized that Ballanfant had blown the call), threw Hemus out of the game. Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky was right behind. Donatelli threw him out of the game too. Peanuts Lowrey rushed out, and Donatelli was telling him to get back or he would get tossed too. And it was about then that Musial, who apparently was not entirely sure why there was so much commotion, wandered over to Donatelli.
"What happened, Augie?" Musial asked. "It didn't count, huh?" Donatelli nodded and said the ball had been called foul.
"Well," Musial said, "there's nothing you can do about it."
And without saying another word, Musial stepped back into the batter's box and doubled to the same spot in right field. This time it was called fair. The Cardinals rallied and won the game.
In 1958 he became the first player in National League history to make $100,000 in a year. The next year he had his worst season—he hit only .255 and missed 40 games with nagging injuries. He went to Cardinals management and insisted they cut his salary by the maximum 20% (which the Cardinals did). Years later, when asked about that move, Musial said simply, "There wasn't anything noble about it. I had a lousy year. I didn't deserve the money."
"Don't worry, Stan," that someone from the Cardinals dugout had yelled. "With that dark background on the mound, you shouldn't haven't any problem hitting the ball." Musial did not show any reaction at all. He never did when he hit. He simply spat on the ground and got into his famous peekaboo batting stance—the one that Hall of Fame pitcher Ted Lyons said "looked like a small boy looking around a corner to see if the cops are coming"—and he flied out. It was after the game, when Black was in the clubhouse, that he looked up and saw Stan Musial. "I'm sorry that happened," Black remembered Musial whispering. "But don't you worry about it. You're a great pitcher. You will win a lot of games."
Another Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, Joe Black, told me a story once. We were sitting next to each other on a plane when, without provocation, he simply started telling the story, one he has told many times. He was pitching against the St. Louis Cardinals—this was 1952, his rookie year, his best year. Black had come out of the Negro leagues, and he was young, and he pitched fearlessly. He thought this happened the first time he faced the Cardinals; Black pitched three scoreless innings that day. But he wasn't entirely sure that was the day. What he remembered clearly, though, was the voice booming from the Cardinals' dugout while he was pitching to Musial.
Earl Weaver was one of the winningest managers in the game, with his O's teams of the late-60's/early-70's in particular being very special. He also employed some excellent in-game strategies; as Jonah Keri put it so eloquently, "watch him manage a game and you were seeing Moneyball in action, decades before Moneyball came to be." Oh, there's also this (warning: NSFW)...
...and this (absolutely NSFW)...
RIP Stan The Man and Earl Weaver.
Edited by nmigliore, 21 January 2013 - 11:46 PM.