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Stan Musial - Meteoric Rise

league national cardinals leads

In 1941, Musial turned around his lagging career, rising from the low minors to the major leagues during the course of a single remarkable season. To start the year, the Cardinals promoted him one level to a Class C farm team in Springfield, Missouri. There, in eighty-seven games, he hit twenty-six home runs and batted .379. That earned him a midseason promotion to Rochester, New York, a Class B Cardinals farm club, where he hit.326 in fifty-four games. In September, Musial was called up to the Cardinals and was an immediate sensation, getting six hits in a doubleheader and batting .426 in his twelve-game stint. His standout performance earned him the starting left field job for the 1942 season.

The 1942 Cardinals had a team of young, inexperienced players like Musial. They were a loose, carefree bunch, including many young men with rural backgrounds, all corralled by Rickey's sterling scouting network. "They horsed around more [than older players], cut up with hillbilly songs and musical instruments," recalled Musial in his autobiography, Stan Musial: "The Man's" Own Story. "I never had the courage to try my harmonica outside my hotel room, but I could make my share of noise with the slide whistle and coat hanger. I always thought it helped to laugh it up before a game, not to become too tense." The Cardinals laughed their way through the National League, surprising everyone by winning 106 games, including forty-three of their final fifty-two. In the World Series, the New York Yankees were heavy favorites, but the Cardinals rolled by them in five games, though Musial hit only .222.


1920 Born December 20 in Donora, Pennsylvania
1937 Hones opposite-field stroke playing in park with short left field fence
1938 Begins professional career as pitcher for Class D Williamson
1939 Career saved when he is moved to outfield to replace injured player
1941 Makes Major League debut for St. Louis
1942 Leads Cardinals to World Series victory over New York Yankees
1945 Serves in U.S. Navy as ship repairman at Pearl Harbor
1946 Returns to lead league in hitting and take Cardinals to World Series
1948 Leads National League in nine offensive categories
1949 Opens popular St. Louis restaurant
1958 Has last of sixteen consecutive .300 seasons
1962 At age forty-one, plays left field and hits .330
1963 Retires as an active player and gets two hits in final game
1967 Serves as general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals

Awards and Accomplishments

1942-44, 1946 Plays in World Series
1943-44, 1946-63 National League All-Star
1943, 1946, 1948, 1950-52, 1957 Leads National League in batting average
1943, 1946, 1948 National League Most Valuable Player
1943, 1948, 1951, 1957 The Sporting News National League Player of the Year
1943-44, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952, Leads National League in slugging percentage
1943-44, 1946, 1948-49, 1952 Leads National League in hits
1943-44, 1946, 1948-49, 1952-53 Leads National League in doubles
1943-44, 1948-49, 1953, 1957 Leads National League in on-base percentage
1943, 1946, 1948-49, 1951 Leads National League in triples
1946 Leads National League in at-bats
1946, 1948, 1951-52, 1954 Leads National League in runs
1946, 1951, 1957 The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year
1948, 1956 Leads National League in runs batted in
1953 Leads National League in walks
1954 On June 2, becomes first major leaguer to hit five home runs in a doubleheader
1964 Named director of the National Council on Physical Fitness
1969 Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame
1972 Poland's Merited Champions Medal
2000 Named to Major League Baseball's All-Century team

Led by Musial's hitting, the Cardinals won the National League pennant again in 1943, and Musial hit.357 to win the first of his seven league batting championships.

Stan Musial, swinging bat

He also led the league in slugging percentage (.562), on-base percentage (.425), hits (220), doubles (48), and triples (20), and was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the National League. In the World Series, however, the Yankees turned the tables and beat St. Louis. The following year, Musial hit .347 and led the league in on-base and slugging percentages, hits (197), and doubles (51). The Cardinals won their third straight league pennant and lost the World Series to the St. Louis Browns, with Musial hitting .304 in the series.

In 1945 Musial was drafted and joined the Navy but he was saved from combat duty. He served as a mechanic on a ship repair unit at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and played baseball every afternoon to entertain other servicemen and women. The Cardinals missed Musial during the 1945 season and finished in second place.

With World War II over, Musial returned in 1946 and led the Cardinals to yet another pennant. St. Louis had finished first in each of Musial's first four full seasons, but they would never do so again throughout his long career. He again led the league in batting with a .365 average, and also topped the league in slugging, hits (228), runs (124), doubles (50), and triples (20). He was again named the league's MVP. Musial, who was a competent but not spectacular outfielder, was shifted from left field to first base, and played most of his games at his new position. In the World Series, the Cardinals faced the Boston Red Sox, and the matchup featured a showdown between each league's best hitter—Musial and Boston's Ted Williams. Neither slugger hit much in the series (Williams batted .200 and Musial .222) but the Cardinals won the series in seven games. It would be Musial's last appearance in a World Series.

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