Stan Musial’s baseball career was filled with success and affability. Although he was one of the MLB greats throughout the span of his 22-year career, Musial was always a very approachable and down to earth guy. Bill Littlefield talks to George Vecsey about his book Stan Musial: An American Life .
Bill’s Thoughts on Stan Musial: An American Life
George Vecsey’s excellent biography of Stan Musial gives one of baseball’s most accomplished players the book he deserves.
During his 22-year career (1941-1963) with the St. Louis Cardinals, Musial compiled a .331 batting average, won three Most Valuable Player Awards, and never got a mid-summer break, since he was always on the All-Star team. Beyond that, he was, according to Vecsey, “a benignly positive presence” in baseball and beyond.
The biography is full of stories of Musial’s generosity and his cheerful accessibility. He was a supportive teammate, and though he wasn’t a firebrand for equal rights when Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers in 1947, he was a pragmatist with no tolerance for the ignorant racism that infected some of the other Cardinals.
According to Vecsey’s account, Musial had grown up playing basketball with black teammates, and he saw no reason why Major League Baseball shouldn’t employ Robinson and those black players who followed him. When some of his less enlightened teammates gave black players on the opposing team a hard time, Musial was the guy who’d approach the black players to apologize for the insults and encourage them in their work.
At several points during the biography, Vecsey refers to the argument that Stan Musial’s achievements have not been adequately celebrated because he played in St. Louis rather than in New York or Boston. But the author is, after all, a New Yorker, and he also points out that it was the fans in Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field who were responsible for Musial’s nickname, “Stan the Man.”