by William Szczepanek
Stan “The Man” Musial was a holdout from signing with Topps and didn’t have a regular Topps baseball card until 1959. As a kid it made you wonder why you never saw a Musial card. You would keep hoping that he would appear on the next checklist, but year after year he was missing. He did appear on the All Star cards at the end of 1958.
Stan Musial is one of the greatest players of all time and has held numerous records. His achievements in Wrigley Field are numerous. He attained his 3000th hit at Wrigley on May 13, 1958. He is the only player to achieve his 3,000th hit as a pinch hitter. Cardinal manager Freddie Hutchinson decided to rest Musial in the final game of the series against the Cubs so he could record his milestone in front of the hometown St. Louis fans. But, Musial pinch hit for Sam Jones in the sixth inning with the Cardinals down 3 to 1. Musial slashed a double to right center that started a Cardinal rally to beat the Cubs.
Cubs fans also showed their respect for him in many ways as he quietly destroyed the Chicago team. I remember a game, I’m guessing sometime around 1960, when the Cardinals and Musial were playing the Cubs. The Cardinals were winning handily when Musial approached the plate in the late innings. The Cubs pitcher, now in trouble again, hit Musial with the pitch. Normally, this would not result in any fan reaction. In this instance Musial was applauded and the Cubs pitcher was booed off the mound.
A statue of Musial was erected outside of Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, MO in 1968, and was dedicated after a 6-5 Sunday afternoon loss to the Cubs on August 4, 1968. I happened to be present at the game to watch Musial be honored. It was a little strange to watch Musial Pose in right field, because I remember him mostly as a first baseman. I was also pleased that the Cubs were able to win in 13 innings on a single by Lee Elia, even though Bob Gibson started for the Cards, which usually meant the Cubs had no chance.
Stan “The Man” got his nickname from Brooklyn fans who lamented his coming to the batter’s box with a sigh, “Here comes the man again.” Over the years the name was more synonymous with “gentleman” than any macho appellation. He was quiet and reserved and was true to Teddy Roosevelt’s slogan, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Musial’s big stick accounted for 3,630 hits, a .331 batting average, being in the top ten for MVP 14 times, winning the title in 1943, 1946 and 1948. He was an All Star for all but his rookie season in his 22 year career. He hit only .315 his rookie year.
Two Baseballs in One Game
Another strange occurrence involving Musial and the Cubs occurred on June 30, 1959 in the weirdest play I have ever seen. Bob Anderson was on the mound for the Cubs with “Stan the Man” at the plate wiggling his derriere as he did before every pitch. Musial checks his swing. The pitch goes to the backstop. Cubs catcher Sammy Taylor thinks it is a foul and doesn’t go after it. Musial starts to first base on what he thought was ball four.
The Cubs used ball boys to fetch balls that were tipped to the backstop or which landed in a large net and then rolled back down to the field. The ball boy picked up the ball and gives it to Pat Pieper*, the Cubs field announcer.
The home plate umpire, Vic Delmore, gives another ball to Taylor, the catcher, who gives it to Anderson, the pitcher. In the meantime third baseman, Alvin Dark, gets the original ball from Pat Pieper, the announcer. Musial now breaks for second base thinking that it was a wild pitch and no one can find the ball. Ernie Banks runs from shortstop to cover second as both Dark and Anderson throw to try to gun down Musial. Banks catches the ball from Dark and tags Musial as the ball from Anderson sails over his head and into center field. Musial seeing the ball fly into center now heads for third. Centerfielder Bobby Thompson tries to get Musial at third and throws the ball into the Cubs dugout.
More confusion ensures. Umpire Delmore calls Musial out at second and Umpire Al Barlick says that Musial should be safe at first. The home plate Umpires ruling holds and Musial is called out at second. The Cardinals protest, but since they won the game 4 to 1, it didn’t matter.
I wonder if the ball boy and the announcer got assists on the play.
You can check out Stan Musial's stats at Baseball-Reference.com.
* Pat Pieper announced lineups and lineup changes from a microphone on the field. I have heard from my father that he used a megaphone in the early days of baseball and switched to the P.A. system in 1932. He announced for the Cubs from 1916 to 1974 and was imitated by all Chicago kids during their sandlot games. His trademark phrase at the beginning of each game was, "Attention! Attention, please! Have your pencils and scorecards ready, and I will give you the correct lineups for today's game."