Whether in or out of uniform, Stan was the Man in St. Louis.
Baseball wept yesterday with the passing of two of its greatest personalities. The fiery Earl Weaver who led the Orioles to four American League pennants and a World Series Championship in 1970, passed on Friday at age 82. As nightfall approached on Saturday, we received news of the passing of St.Louis Cardinals great Stan Musial who was 92.
Earl Weaver wanted to be remembered as the “world’s sorest loser”. Instead, he became a living legend in Baltimore, mentioned with the likes of Johnny Unitas and now Ray Lewis. From 1969 to 1971, Weaver led the Orioles to three consecutive American League pennants and a World Championship,powered by one of the great pitching staffs of all time. The Orioles won two American League East titles and finished second three times over eight seasons before winning another AL pennant in 1979. The Orioles were defeated by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1979 World Series. Weaver was fired by the Orioles after the 1982 season. The following year, Baltimore would defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in five games to win the 1983 World Series.
Weaver steered away from small ball, he endorsed his own philosophy of “pitching, defense, and the three-run homer.” Yet he is best remembered for his confrontations with umpires which were intense, yet comical. There was one instance where Weaver was ejected for tearing up a rule book in front of an umpire.
In 17 seasons, Weaver compiled a record of 1480-1060 (.583). He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
It’s no secret of the love affair between St. Louis and their beloved Stan “The Man” Musial. It was the perfect marriage between athlete and city. Musial played his 22 professional seasons in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform. Musial made the most of his career becoming an All-Star in 20 of 22 seasons. He was a three-time MVP (1943, 1946 and 1948) and won three World Series championships with the Cardinals (1942, 1944 and 1946). Musial served one year of military duty in 1945.
Musial built one of baseball’s great statistical resumes in an era that included; Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and others. Musial batted .331 with 3,630 hits, an amazing 725 doubles, 475 home runs and 1,951 RBIs. At the time of his retirement, Musial held or shared 17 major league records, 29 NL records and 9 All-Star records. Among those records were MLB career leader in extra-base hits (1,377), NL career leader in hits (3,630), doubles (725) and RBIs (1,951).
If Musial had not served in the military during the 1945 season, it’s possible he would have hit 500 home runs and maybe played long enough to threaten Ty Cobb’s all-time hit record.
Baseball like no other sport idolizes its heroes. With the shutout of Hall of Famers in the 2013 class, the sport is looking for figures like Musial and Weaver to bring a measure of respect back to the game our fathers and grandfathers loved.