Monday, November 22, 2010

A Tribute to "The Man"

These days you don't hear much about one of the greatest hitters of all time, Stan Musial. Yesterday was his 90th birthday and the St. Louis Post Dispatch assembled this terrific list of 90 things to love about The Man. A sampling:

3 • A lovely man, with lovely symmetry. Musial stroked two hits in his first game in the majors Sept. 17, 1941. He ended his career with two hits in his final game Sept. 29, 1963, in St. Louis. And with those last two hits, Musial finished with 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 on the road. As the writer George Will once wrote, "baseball's rich in wonderful statistics, but it's hard to find one more beautiful than Stan Musial's hitting record. He didn't care where he was, he just hit."

11 • Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax: "In my rookie year, I got my first chance to face Stan Musial. I also gave up my first home run. The two events are not unrelated."

17 • While Ted Williams and other esteemed hitters of the day pontificated about their approach to hitting, Musial kept it refreshingly simple. "You wait for a strike, then you knock the tar out of it," Musial said.

41 • When Albert Pujols made his major-league debut on April 5, 2001 at Coors Field in Colorado, Musial unexpectedly showed up and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. It was almost as if he knew he had to be there to symbolically transfer his greatness to the young Pujols.

48 • Pitcher Don Newcombe: "I could have rolled the ball up there to Musial, and he would have pulled out a golf club and hit it out."

50 • Musial may have invented - or at least first popularized - the so-called "fist bump." Stan came up with it as an option to shaking hands. Musial was convinced that he was catching too many colds by picking up germs while shaking thousands of hands each year, so he adopted the fist bump as a friendly alternative.

82 • Joe Garagiola: "He could have hit .300 with a fountain pen."

89 • Bob Costas: "All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being."

Hat tip: Powerline

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