“If I had to choose between the two of them, I’d take Musial in left field, Musial on the base paths, Musial in the clubhouse, and Williams only with the wood in his hand. And Stan Musial could hit a little, too.”

Bill James 1985

When you follow media as much as I do you realize learn how much conventional is shaped by the media being East & West Coast centered.  For example a long time it was Axiomatic that Ted Williams was the greatest left fielder there was and to suggest otherwise, particularly if you were a Boston fan was blasphemy.  Bill James statement in 1985 in his Historical Baseball abstract that while Williams was the greatest hitter of all time that Stan Musial was the greatest left fielder of all time directly contradicted that conventional wisdom.  I wrote about this while he was alive  and touched on it when he died but I didn’t adequately illustrate the point.

It seems to me that while Williams star hasn’t faded in death (although David Oritz has proved conclusively that he rather than Williams is the Red Sox batter you want up with a playoff or a World Series game on the line)  Musial’s has, so to illustrate my point and describe just how good and how respected Stan Musial let me tell you about a man named George Crowe

George Crowe came up with the Boston Braves in 1952 backing up Earl Torgeson and then Joe Adcock until 1955 when Adcock’s broken arm game him the starting job for half a year.

In 1956 he was dealt to the Cincinnati Redlegs where he would back up Ted Kluszewski, but in 1957 injury would again give him a starting job and he would make the most of it having his finest season ever leading the Reds in homers with 32 home runs and RBI with 92 despite being 6th in games & plate appearances and at 36 the oldest starter on the team by more than 7 years but the 2nd oldest player on the roster.

All this meant his prospect for making the All Star team for the first time were excellent, particularly when the Cincinnati Enquirer pre-printed All Star ballots in their Sunday paper resulting in more than half the fan ballots coming from the city effectively stuffing the ballot.

The result 7 of the  Cincinnati Redlegs were voted in as Starters for the All Star game,

George Crowe was not among them.  Stan Musial was voted the Starting First Baseman for the National League.

That’s how good Stan Musial was and that how respected he was by the fans around the league & in Cincinnati, even with a stuffed ballot facing a guy having the best year of his entire Major league career you still couldn’t vote him off the All Star Team.

As for George Crowe, he would play one more year in Cincy before being traded to St. Louis and backing up Musial at first until then end of his career in 1961.  He would never approach the production he had in 1957 but ironically thanks to the Ballot shenanigans he would finally make the All Star Team thanks to commissioner Ford Frick swift action concerning the ballot stuffing.  Hank Aaron & Willie Mays were added to the team 1957 team and until the fans got the ballot back in 1970 managers, coaches and players and managers picked the All Star teams and in 1958 those players picked Crowe as the only position player from the Cincinnati backing up starting first baseman Stan Musial.

He did not play.

 

The Greatest Left fielder in the History of baseball, Stan Musial died yesterday at the age of 92.

That many of you might not have heard of him is understandable.  He didn’t play in NY or Boston, he didn’t have feuds with the press, he didn’t have headlines with starlets nor was known for carousing.  He married in 1940 and stayed married 72 years until his wife death last may.

What he did was play and play hard in a career that started when he was signed in 1938 and ended with his retirement in 1963. He made a good living off of baseball saved his money, went into business and made more of it.

He was voted into the Hall of Fame in the first year he was eligible appearing on 93.2 percent of the ballots proving that at least 6.8% of the HOF voters in 1969 were out of their minds.

I wrote about him last February saying this:

For reasons I still can’t understand Stan Musial somehow doesn’t seem to get the respect among the greats of Baseball.

You don’t hear people speaking about his greatness outside of St. Louis. They don’t talk about his longevity, his hitting, his work ethic and the killer numbers he put up year after year.

Looking closer at America today I think I understand now

Stan the Man Musial was a shining example of hard word, decency, honesty and how to live a life well.

Which explains more than anything else, why he was not and could not be celebrated in the America of 2013. Musial was a walking talking indictment of Modern America just by being himself.

For reasons I still can’t understand Stan Musial somehow doesn’t seem to get the respect among the greats of Baseball.

You don’t hear people speaking about his greatness outside of St. Louis. They don’t talk about his longevity, his hitting, his work ethic and the killer numbers he put up year after year.

(This might be sacrilege for a person in Massachusetts, but Stan Musial was superior to Ted Williams in every aspect of the game except pure hitting and Musial as noted by Bill James, “could hit a little too”)

I think the lack of respect speaks very poorly about baseball in general so I was delighted to see this story about Albert Pujois:

ALBERT PUJOLS is the man for realizing he’s not The Man.

According to Pujols, that designation is reserved for Stan “The Man” Musial, who crafted a Hall of Fame career in 22 years with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Which is why Pujols wants his current team, the Angels, to take down billboards in and around the Los Angeles area that refer to him as “El Hombre,” Spanish for “The Man.”

I was indifferent to Pujols before, not anymore. This was a class act.

Oh and if you aren’t familiar with Musial’s stats, they’re here and they’re incredible.