According to baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby, the passing of Stan Musial has made Henry Aaron the best living Major League Baseball hitter.
For those of us who feel that Stan the Man was overlooked by the national media while it focused on major market stars, that's a remarkable sentiment.
Why? Well, first, Henry Aaron is one of the best hitters in the history of the game. He hit more home runs than any other person not fueled by performance enhancing drugs. He was a consistent producer for 23 seasons and remains the all-time leader in runs batted in and total bases. Although he played in a southern city, Atlanta is a large market in the eastern time zone. Plus Aaron's pursuit of Babe Ruth's all-time home run record was a major story that captured the nation's attention. So I'm somewhat surprised to see that the consensus of living Hall of Famers when polled in 2002 recalled Stan over Hammerin' Hank.
The fact that Musial outranked Mays while he was alive is an amazing accomplishment.
Second, Willie Mays is still alive.
Whenever I have discussed the issue of who was the greatest player in the history of the game with people, the only name that comes up as a threat to Babe Ruth for the title is Mays. Mays started his career in New York and then played the bulk of it in San Francisco. It's hard to get much more exposure than that.
So, while I still think the evidence indicates that Stan was overlooked in many ways, at least the people whose opinion carries the most weight -- the truly great players who understand baseball better than anyone else -- seem to have recognized that he was one of the very best players in history. Certainly in the top 10 to have ever played the game.
Here's the link to the Ringolsby post: