Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Donora, Washington County
Stan "the Man" Musial grew up in Donora and played his entire Hall of Fame career for baseball's St. Louis Cardinals.
Awards: Baseball Hall of Fame
Stan Musial was born in Donora, Pennsylvania to Lukasz and Mary Musial. While growing up, Musial excelled in athletics and was determined to become a professional baseball player. He went on to become one of the greats in baseball history playing his whole career for the St. Louis Cardinals. Musial was not only a great baseball player. He was a great representative of the game and a role model for thousands. He avoided controversy and was a gentlemen both on and off the field. His life and career contradicted the notion that good guys finish last.
Stan Musial, often called Stan "the Man," was born in Donora, Pennsylvania on November 21, 1920. Musial was the second child and first son of six children born to working class immigrants. His father, Lukasz Musial, was a Polish immigrant born in Warsaw and his mother, Mary Lancos, was the daughter of immigrants from Czechoslovakia. His father hated working in the mines of western Pennsylvania and was determined that his children would never have to endure such miserable conditions to make a living.
The name Stanislaus was Anglicized into Stanley when Musial started school. It became apparent early on that Musial was an exceptional athlete. He played both basketball and baseball at Donora High School. Musial's basketball skills seemed to promise a college scholarship, but he had his heart set on baseball.
In 1937, at the age of 16, Musial was offered his first professional baseball contract. Musial's father immediately rejected the offer, wanting him to finish high school and attend college. Musial was so distraught about his father's decision that his mother had to intervene in order to get his father's approval. Musial signed with the St. Louis Cardinals organization, much to the dismay of his fellow Donorans who wanted him to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On November 21, 1939, Musial married his high school sweetheart, Lillian Labash, who was pregnant at the time with the first of their four children. The course of Musial's career also changed during this time period. In August 1940, Musial was in the outfield when he tripped and fell heavily onto the point of his left shoulder. During that time, he was primarily a pitcher, but his Daytona Beach team had him playing centerfield so they could have the benefit of his bat on days that he wasn't pitching. Even though his throwing arm was still weak, his batting and base running skills got the attention of the Cardinal scouts. In one season, Musial had gone from being a dead-armed pitcher with a Class D team to the outfielder of one of the top major league teams of the day.
Beginning as a $65-a-month Class D pitcher in his teens, Musial came to the major leagues in 1941 at the age of 20. He played 22 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals before retiring in 1963 and was inducted into baseball's exclusive Hall of Fame in 1969. He won seven National League hitting championships, hitting over.300 his first 16 seasons in the major leagues and ending up with a career average of.331. He was selected National League Player of the Year three times and The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year twice. Sports Illustrated named Musial its Sportsman of the Year in 1957 and The Sporting News honored him as Player of the Decade 1946-1956. Musial held major league records for most extra-base hits and total bases. Musial's biggest day at bat came during a doubleheader at Busch Stadium in May 1954 when he became the first baseball player in history to hit five home runs in one day.
Musial also respected the baseball public. He was liked and respected by teammates, opponents, and umpires. Musial was a positive influence on teammates and treated everyone equally, regardless of skin color or years of Major League experience. He made himself accessible to sportswriters and graciously signed autographs for fans.
After he retired in 1963, Musial became a Cardinal Vice President, and published his memoirs the next year. He served as the general manager in 1967 when he guided his team to a World Series championship. He was appointed by President Johnson to head the U.S. Council on Physical Fitness. In 1968, the Cardinals honored Musial with a statue outside Busch Memorial Stadium, and he has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Musial was also involved with different business ventures, including restaurants, bowling alleys, and hotels. He overcame nervousness in public speaking to become an outgoing, popular speaker.
In later life, Musial devoted much of his time to charities. He has worked for the Easter Seal Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association and a number of hospitals. For 20 years, he worked with St. Louis' Crippled Children. There are also scholarships in his name at St. Louis University, where a ball field is named in his honor. If he had anything to do over, Musial said he would have gone to college. "I had a basketball scholarship offer, but I chose baseball because I always loved baseball. Of course, it worked out very well. But I tell these young people to really get an education. It's very valuable these days. It's very important."
Stan The Man Musial died on January 19, 2013, at the age of 92 in Ladue, Missouri.
The Man's Own Story as Told to Bob Broeg. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1964.
From Stash to Stan the Man. Columbia, MO: U of Missouri P, 2001.
Broeg, Bob. The Man's Own Story as Told to Bob Broeg. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1964.
Lansche, Jerry. The Man Stan; Then and No. New York: Bethany Press, 1977.