Stan Musial was a first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was nicknamed “Stan the Man”, but do you know who nicknamed him that? You might be surprised to learn about that. Stan also had Polish heritage, and he had a bit of an unusual batting stance. Stan Musial played his entire 22-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, and he is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most consistent hitters in the history of Major League Baseball. Insofar as how he got his nickname, read on for that and many other unique facts about this amazing player:
1. The “Stan the Man” Nickname Came from a Surprising Place
Let’s get the most pressing question out of the way first. Stan Musial got this most well-known nickname from an opposing team and not from his Cardinals teammates. In the early years of his career, Musial was the bane of the existence for the Brooklyn Dodgers and by 1946 they had started calling him “Stan the Man.” Simply put, the name stuck after it also showed up in a local newspaper article. “Stan the Man” was so good at his craft that he was even elected to the Dodger Hall of Fame even though he never played for the team.
2. Musial had a habit of referring to himself in the third person.
It was a very rare occurrence for Stan Musial to refer to himself as “I.” He was usually say something to the effect of, “When Stanley does this” or “Stanley likes to do this” instead.
3. He began his career as a pitching prospect.
He was drafted into the St. Louis minor league system and he originally started as a pitcher. Unfortunately, he wasn’t that good as a pitcher, and he had poor accuracy. He walked about as many people as innings he pitched in! However, he ended up having an injury while diving for a pop-up and he never quite threw the same after that. Considering that he was well-known for being a hitting pitcher, after his injury he was converted to an outfield position, and the rest is history.
4. He was a World War II Navy Veteran.
Stan Musial played for the Cardinals from 1941 to 1944 and from 1946 to 1963. He had to skip a year in his baseball playing career because he was drafted for the war effort in 1945. Musial mostly worked as entertainment, playing baseball for the other veterans and important soldiers such as generals. After he discovered that the soldiers like the home run balls, he changed his stance so that he would hit more home runs. Interestingly enough, his power numbers did indeed go up when he returned to the Cardinals.
5. He made a guest appearance on the Hee Haw television show in 1985.
Roy Clark and Buck Owens were delighted to have Stan Musial on their show, Hee Haw, and it turned out that Mr. Musial was every bit as good at playing the harmonica as he was at playing baseball. Musial was on one of the March 1985 episodes, and he guest-starred with the Statler Brothers.
6. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in February 2011.
Musial was not only a baseball Hall-of-Famer, but he joined yet another elite list when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for all of his accomplishments both on and off the field. Musial not only appeared in 24 all-star games, but he was well aware of his Polish heritage, serving as an unofficial emissary to the country for many years. “This is the greatest honor I will ever receive,” Musial reportedly said after the ceremony.
7. In 1999, he did not make the cut for the Top 25 Players of the 20th Century designation.
Of course, after this list came out, MLB commissioner Bud Selig did receive some blowback from lifelong fans. Not only was Stan Musial left out of the original Top 25, but so was Warren Spahn, Christy Matthewson, Honus Wagner, and Lefty Grove. Selig decided to amend the list to include 30 players instead and Musial was included in this edited list.
8. Besides playing for the Cardinals, he also was their general manager for a brief time.
For just one year, Stan Musial was also the general manager for the St. Louis Cardinals. It was 1967, and the team would go on to win the World Series that year. Musial stepped down because he had several other things on his plate, including an immensely popular restaurant and many other businesses to look after.
9. He campaigned for John F. Kennedy
Stan and a group of celebrities were heavily invested in campaigning for John F. Kennedy’s run for President of the United States in 199. They kept up a harried pace, with each day giving speeches in a different town. President Kennedy was so grateful for Stan’s support that he later invited him to the White House in 1962.
10. Stan and Tales of the South Pacific author James Michener ended up becoming fast friends.
After both Musial and Michener campaigned for Kennedy, they ended up hitting it off and becoming really good friends. Other acquaintances would describe them as “drinking buddies”, with Musial’s drink of choice being beer and Michener’s option being bourbon.
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