People talk quite a bit about their favorite Stan Musial stories. And, while there are a million tales about his exploits on the field, mine has nothing to do about home runs, base hits or great plays on defense.
My favorite story has to do with Musial being offered a contract to leave the Cardinals to jump to the upstart Mexican major league. Stan the Man made $13,500 with St. Louis in 1946, an era in which MLB players had only year-to-year contracts. But, eager to lure major league stars south of the border, Mexican League organizers offered him a guaranteed $175,000 over five years.
That would have offered a great deal of security in 1946 to a young guy with a family to support. But Musial, unlike Cardinals Max Lanier and Fred Martin as well as 10 other MLB players, refused to take the lucrative pay day.
Why? Stan said if he went back on his word, which he gave when he signed his name to a contract to play for the Cardinals, he wouldn't be able to look his son in the eye.
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They just don't make guys like that anymore.
There are a lot of other great stories to share about Stan's character, too.
In 1952 Hall of Famer Ty Cobb said in a story in Life Magazine that Musial was one of only two current MLB players -- along with Phil Rizzuto from the Yankees -- who were good enough to play in Cobb's day. High praise from one of baseball's toughest critics. Cobb added that Musial was a much better player than Joe DiMaggio in his prime.
Musial said with humility that, while he didn't want to question the word of a great player like Cobb, he didn't think he was as good as DiMaggio.
Finally, Musial was such a great ballplayer and great guy that in the 1960s Chicago fans were polled about who their favorite sports figure was. And they chose Musial, a guy who played for their arch rivals.
Sure, Stan won MVP awards, batting titles, World Series rings and every other accolade a baseball player can get. But the best thing about him is that he was someone truly WORTH rooting for.
Stan, you are terribly missed. We'll never be the same without you. But Cardinals fans wouldn't be who they are today without you.
God speed, Stan the Man.