Stan Musial 1959 #150
by William Szczepanek
This 1959 card of Stan Musial is the first of his regular baseball cards produced by Topps. It is one of our showcase cards because it was Musial's first. Afterward, this showcase card was selected as a Hall of Fame card by the fans. It is unfortunate that such a great player would only have 4 Topps regular season cards associated with him, but Stan was elusive and couldn't be signed by Sy Berger of Topps in those early years of 1952-1957. As a kid it was puzzling. I would continually look at the checklists to see when Stan would show up and it didn't happen until the Topps All Star set late in 1958.
While Ted Williams hit .406 and Joe DiMaggio tore up the AL with a 56 game hitting streak Stan quietly hit .426 as a rookie in 47 at bats in 1941. For the rest of his career this man, "Stan the Man", would quietly, politely and gentlemanly go about his business for 22 seasons. A record 24 time All Star Stan (tied with Willie Mays) would be a 3 time MVP in 1943, 1946 and 1948. Four times he would come in second in the voting and 15 times he would be in the top ten for MVP. He is surpassed in MVP voting only by Barry Bonds. He has won 7 NL batting titles. He is 4th in career hits with 3,640 behind Rose, Cobb and Aaron and 2nd in total bases to Henry Aaron with 6,134 and 3rd in doubles behind Tris Speaker and Pete Rose with 725. He led the league in triples 5 times.
In 1948 Stan missed the league lead the in homers by one home run. He had one home run that was washed out in a rainout. If that homer had counted he would have won the Triple Crown that year and would have been the only player in modern baseball history to also have led the league in runs, hits, doubles, triples, and slugging percentage. He finished the season with a .376 batting average and .705 slugging percentage.
Musial was the first to earn $100,00 in NL history in 1958. On July 8, Musial at age 41 became the oldest player ever to hit three home runs in one game. Out of his corkscrew stance he sliced and smashed hits to all fields. While hitting for a lifetime average of .331 he also hit 475 home runs without ever leading the league in this category. The Society for American Baseball Research, SABR, ranks Stan as the 5th greatest player of all time.
Off the field Musial was an unbelievable gentleman. Commissioner Ford Frick called him "baseball's perfect warrior, baseball's perfect knight." In 1969, Musial was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility with a 93.2% of the votes. On February 16, 2011, at 90 years of age, Stan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House. You don't hear of too many Stanleys anymore. We could sure use more Stans like Stan "The Man" Musial right now.
by Ogden Nash
The business life of Mr. Musial
Source: Life (September 5, 1955)