Stan Musial (1920 - 2013)
Stan Musial was a professional baseball player who played with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941 until 1963. Nicknamed “Stan the Man” because of the way he dominated the game, Musial was an outfielder, a first baseman, and a powerful hitter. In fact, he once held the National League record for the most hits in a single career. Musial was the first St. Louis Cardinal to have his official jersey number retired and is often referred to as “The Greatest Cardinal of them all.”
Early Years and Education
Lukasz Musial, a Polish immigrant, worked at the American Steel and Wire Company, loading bales of wire onto freight cars. During the Great Depression, he struggled to support his family. The family’s strained finances contributed to Lukasz’s battle with alcoholism. Mary Musial put in long hours as a domestic worker and the family often relied on donations from food pantries. Musial later remembered his mother making baseballs for him “out of a little bit of this and that.”
As a young adult, Stan worked various odd jobs to help support the family. He spent his free time playing baseball, his lifelong passion, and maintained a C average in school. He was the only member of his family to graduate from high school.
Musial dreamed of a future as a professional baseball player. He later said, “I wanted to be a big league ball player from the time I was eight years old.” At age 17, he signed a pitching contract with the St. Louis Cardinals for $65 a month and left for spring training.
Musial wrote in his autobiography, “What made me sign with the Cardinals? Because they used salesmanship, the personal touch. Where others wrote, they talked. Where others waited, they acted. That early bird that got the worm must have been a Redbird.”
After he retired, Musial professed, “If I had to do it all over again, I’d go to college before playing professional baseball…Although baseball treated me wonderfully, I missed something. Call it a feeling of inferiority, call it what you will, but I believe sincerely that it takes a man who doesn’t have one to appreciate the value of a college education.”