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Stan Musial remembered for hitting prowess and ebullient personality (+video)

Stan Musial, the longtime St. Louis Cardinals baseball Hall of Famer, passed away Saturday at age 92. Stan Musial had a lifetime batting average of .331, including 3,630 hits, 475 home runs and 1,951 runs-batted-in.

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Minus a temper like Reggie Jackson, a poker face like Joe DiMaggio and a whacky streak like Dizzy Dean, I can’t remember anybody ever saying anything bad about Hall of Famer Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals. His death on Saturday unlocked a lifetime of memories for baseball fans everywhere.

The way the left-handed Musial crouched at the plate, according to his rivals, made it appear that Stan was hitting at the pitcher from around corners. The mental book he had on opposing pitchers allowed him to wait on a pitch until it was almost in the catcher’s mitt.

Here was a man with such an acute sense of timing that he could either pull the ball to right field or go the other way with almost as much power. Overall he led St. Louis to three World Series championships.

Actually Stan, because of his odd stance at the plate, should have been a sucker for a breaking ball. Instead he compiled a lifetime batting average of .331, including 3,630 hits, 475 home runs and 1,951 runs-batted-in. His 725 career doubles, in two fewer years in the big leagues, was one more than Ty Cobb.

Even in Brooklyn, where Musial’s power often took advantage of the short right field wall at Ebbets Field, fans not only appreciated his talents but applauded them. In fact, it was Brooklyn’s bleacher crowd, because of his consistency at the plate, who gave him the nickname “Stan the Man.”

In what should have made the Guinness Book of World Records years ago, Musial logged an incredible 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road!

Originally a pitcher, who several of his minor league managers often used in the outfield because of his bat, Musial almost never struck out. For example, back in 1943 in 617 at bats with the Cards, he struck out only 18 times. Years later, Musial would admit that he was more comfortable in the outfield (and later first base) than he was on the mound.

Even though he had a strong throwing arm, Musial starting out had trouble throwing strikes, particularly with runners on base. Later, a hard fall on his left shoulder while playing the outfield turned his rifle-like arm into a popgun.

It was only after months of rehabilitation that his throwing arm would regain its strength. In the meantime he was learning to play the outfield, including the big league way to throw to the cutoff man that would keep an opposing base runner from scoring.

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