An already sad day for baseball just became a whole lot sadder with the news that former St. Louis Cardinals great and baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial has died at the age of 92.
A family spokesman announced Musial's passing, stating that the baseball legend died peacefully and of natural causes on Saturday at his St. Louis County home.
The St Louis Post-Dispatch added that Musial was under hospice care and that his health had deteriorated in recent days, prompting family members who did not live in the St. Louis area to gather by his side in his final days and hours.
In wake of the news, St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill Dewitt Jr. released a statement on behalf of his organization.
"We have lost the most beloved member of the Cardinals family. Stan Musial was the greatest player in Cardinals history and one of the best players in the history of baseball.
"The entire Cardinals organization extends its sincere condolences to Stan's family, including his children Richard, Gerry, Janet and Jean, as well as his eleven grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. We join fans everywhere in mourning the loss of our dear friend and reflect on how fortunate we all are to have known 'Stan the Man'."
Where does one start when talking about the incredible career Musial enjoyed? He collected 3,630 career hits, which ranks fourth on the all-time list and first for a player who spent his entire career with one team. And just to drive home how remarkably consistent Musial was throughout his entire career, he divided those hits evenly with 1,815 coming at home and the other 1,815 on the road.
If that's not the single coolest stat that has ever existed in baseball's grand history, I don't know what is.
He also hit 475 home runs and compiled a batting line of .331/.417/.559, which shows he wasn't just a one-dimensional hitter. In fact, he was, without question, a magician with the bat who rarely failed to make contact — he never struckout more than 46 times in a single season — and could tailor his approach to any situation and consistently produce results. It's because of those skills and his versatility that I will tell any time there's a debate about who the greatest all-around hitter in the game was, Musial has to be included, if not placed on top of the list.
Musial was a 24-time All-Star, which ties him with Willie Mays for the most selections in baseball history. He was also a seven-time batting champion, a three-time National League MVP (1943, 1946 and 1948) and a three-time World Series champion (1942, 1944 and 1946). And then in 1969, his incredible career was capped when he took his rightful place in the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
You'll be hard pressed to find a résumé more impressive than that in any line of work.
But it's not just the on-field greatness and accolades that stand out about Musial. His relationship and the love affair he shared with the city of St. Louis may run deeper than any other relationship between city and professional athlete that we’ve ever seen. St. Louis loved him for everything he stood for and everything he gave it on and off the field, and he loved it right back.
The fact that he lived in the St. Louis area right up until his dying day speaks to that fact, as does his beautiful statue that stands proudly outside of Busch Stadium.
Stan Musial was "The Man" in St. Louis, as his legendary nickname always suggested. And if you ask me, he'll always be "The Man" for as long as the game of baseball exists.
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