Stan Musial: An American Life

Stan Musial: An American Life

by George Vecsey


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345517067
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/10/2011
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.52(h) x 1.43(d)

About the Author

George Vecsey, a sports columnist for The New York Times, has written about such events as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics but considers baseball, the sport he’s covered since 1960, his favorite game. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Baseball: A History of America’s Favorite Game and Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter (with Loretta Lynn), which was made into an Academy Award–winning film. He has also served as a national and religion reporter for The New York Times, interviewing the Dalai Lama, Tony Blair, Billy Graham, and a host of other noteworthy figures. He lives in New York with his wife, Marianne, an artist.

Read an Excerpt



Bud selig could see it coming. He did not know exactly which great player was going to be overlooked by the capricious impulses of baseball fans, but he was certain it was going to be somebody he loved.

The commissioner had brought this agony on himself by approving a commercial gimmick he suspected might backfire. A credit card company, a major sponsor, would arrange for fans to select the top twenty-five players of the twentieth century, using computerized punch cards. The winners would be announced during the World Series of 1999.

The drawback, and Selig knew it right away, was that this election could produce an injustice for some great players who had concluded their careers before the current generation of fans, before cable television began displaying endless loops of home runs by sluggers who were mysteriously growing burlier by the hour.

In addition to being the commissioner, with all the crass business decisions that post entails, Selig is a legitimate fan who grew up in Milwaukee, whose mother took him to Chicago and New York, giving him a lifelong appreciation for the game.

Knowing, just knowing, that some great players would be left out by mathematical inevitability, Selig did the prudent, fretting, consensual, quintessential Bud Selig thing: he arranged for an oversight committee that would add five players, making it a top-thirty team. He just knew.

Selig’s premonition came true when voting closed on September 10, 1999. Pete Rose, who had been banned from baseball after blatantly denying he had gambled on games, was among the top nine outfielders on the all-century team; Stan Musial, with his perfect image, who ranked among the top ten hitters who ever played, was mired at eleventh. Stan the Man, an also-ran.

“Ughhhh,” Selig groaned, a decade later, from deep in his innards. “How could they vote Pete Rose on that team before the great Stan Musial? You look at Musial’s stats, oh, oh, I can’t emphasize enough to you my regard for him, not only as a player, but when I got to know him in later years, when he came to Cooperstown. I can’t begin to tell you what a wonderful human being he is.”

His voice rising to an aggrieved squeal, Selig continued: “Did he deserve to be there? Are you kidding me? That to me was the biggest shock of the whole thing. I felt an incredible sadness. I said, ‘This is impossible.’

“I love Stan Musial,” Selig added. “He was just awesome. I watched him eleven, twelve times a year. I saw him in Ebbets Field, where they called him Stan the Man, because that’s what he was.”

“I’m seventy-four years old and I still say, in a kidlike way, wow!” Selig said, gaining steam. “And if you were trying to win a game in the eighth or ninth inning, you didn’t want to see him up. In old Sportsman’s Park, with that screen, he would pepper it. He was the man in every way.”

It would have been easy enough for voters to look up Musial’s statistics. Even in 1999, everybody had access to instant electronic information. And this is what Stan Musial accomplished: twenty-two seasons, a career batting average of .331, with 725 doubles, 177 triples, 1,951 runs batted in. Three times the National League’s Most Valuable Player. Seven batting championships. He led the league in total bases and slugging percentage six times each, and he led the league in doubles eight times and triples five times.

Musial also hit 475 home runs and struck out only 696 times in his entire career, twenty-two seasons—an astounding ratio in contrast to the chemically enhanced worthies of recent vintage, who strike out 696 times per season, or so it seems.

Oh, yes, and Musial was also the most beloved great player of his time, was never thrown out of a game—and yet the fans of the Internet age, with all that information available to them, did not see fit to include him among the top twenty-five.

“He has not gotten the recognition he deserves,” Selig said. “He is truly one of the great hitters. And believe me, I have great admiration for Ted Williams, but if you look at the stats, Stan Musial is right there. As far as I’m concerned, he’s got to be on the all-time team. He’s that great.”

In the top twenty-five, the fans included not only Rose but four players active in 1999—Cal Ripken Jr., Ken Griffey Jr., Roger Clemens, and Mark McGwire.

Knowing what they know now—McGwire’s extremely belated admission that he indeed used steroids that were illegal under the law of the land, though he still maintained he used them only for physical healing and never to gain extra power—fans of today might not vote for him.

But in 1999, given the choice, the fans voted for Bluto and stiffed Popeye the Sailor Man.

On further review, fans might not vote for the two Juniors a decade down the line, while Clemens’s seedy image and rumors of his using illegal body-enhancing chemicals probably would keep him out of the top twenty-five just on general principle. But that was the way things looked to fans with a punch-out computer card in the summer of 1999, listening to the incessant now-now-now babble of the tube and the blare of the public-address system.

Fortunately, Bud Selig’s oversight committee kicked in—the same panel that had come up with the original computer-card list of one hundred: Paul Beeston and Richard Levin from Major League Baseball, Gene Orza from the Players Association, Bob Costas and Jaime Jarrin, two experienced broadcasters, and four respected writers, Jerome Holtzman, Larry Whiteside, John Thorn, and Claire Smith. They did their work via conference call.

“The first thing we said was, ‘We start here, we start with Musial,’ ” recalled Costas, the baseball buff who had lived much of his adult life in St. Louis. Costas loved Musial. Everybody in St. Louis loved Musial. Now it was time for Costas to do the right thing.

“We had to scurry to improvise a nudnik-cancelling measure,” Thorn recalled. As Orza remembered it, the committee first added Musial and Christy Mathewson, then swiftly went to Warren Spahn, Honus Wagner, and Lefty Grove.

Even at that, to Selig’s chagrin, Frank Robinson, one of the great clutch hitters of all time, was left off the top thirty, along with Roberto Clemente, the great right fielder who died in a humanitarian airlift mission. The top-thirty team did not include a single Latino star or Negro League star, not Satchel Paige, not Josh Gibson, which rendered the venture still something of a gimmick.

When you think about it, all lists are gimmicks. Top ten movies. Top hundred books. Five worst presidents. I once wrote a column saying I could pick a team of players who are not in the Hall of Fame and on any given day “my guys”—just off the top of my head, Roger Maris, Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Ron Santo, Maury Wills, Thurman Munson, Dick Allen, Jack Morris, Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Lee Smith (sure, I’d take Pete Rose the ballplayer on that team; I covered him from the day he was nicknamed Charlie Hustle, and I believe he was clean as a player)—could give the Cooperstown guys a heckuva game. Somebody is always left off every list.

“It broke my heart to leave them off,” Costas said of players like Robinson and Clemente. And he added, “There would have been hell to pay if Musial had been left off.”

other tomfoolery was taking place in the closing months of 1999. People were obsessing that the world was going to fly out of orbit as computers spun from one digital millennium to another. People were hoarding gold bullion and plastic jugs of water and tins of tuna fish in their basements, getting weird over all kinds of apocalyptic nonsense. Maybe that explains why fans voted for Pete Rose over Stan Musial.

Through it all, Stan the Man remained Stan the Mensch—a Yiddish word for a human being, someone of high integrity, a major compliment where I come from. He handled the oversight with the same grace he had shown throughout his public life.

In July of that year, Musial was content to be a side man in the band of superstars that traveled to Boston for the All-Star Game. Ancient Fenway Park was one site of the ineffective World Series mano a mano between Musial and Ted Williams back in 1946, when both of them were young. Now Williams was partially blind because of a stroke, unable to walk without a cane, no longer the postadolescent who could be goaded into a fury. The Kid was now the patron of the Jimmy Fund charity and a sage of hitting, probably the last .400 hitter ever, a charismatic storyteller, a beloved elder, dying in front of our eyes.

During the All-Star jamboree, the great players of past and present swarmed around Williams, giving him his due. This was his moment. The old storms were over, and the fans went crazy in their adoration for him; he had long since learned to accept this love. Henry Aaron and Junior Griffey helped him stand to throw out the first pitch, a haunting reminder for everybody hurtling toward old age and infirmity. Musial did not need the spotlight. In Ted’s town, Musial was content to be the nice old guy playing “The Wabash Cannonball” on his harmonica.

musial’s modest pose in 1999 raises the question: why did he not strike a chord with the voters in that poll? Some players grow in stature over time, the way Williams did, while others dwindle, as Musial seems to have done with the general public. We all know that new trumps old just about every time, but was some other factor working in the general overlooking of Stan Musial?

The answer may have been that, in the celebrity-driven sizzle of the turn of the century, Musial was just not sexy enough. Once upon a time he had been sort of the American ideal, at least the white mainstream version of it, the Life cover boy. Friends and strangers semi-adopted him as the smiling brother, the amiable cousin, the father figure of his time, while Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, his counterparts, became known for their broken marriages, their moods, their absences.

Almost as if by will, DiMaggio and Williams became distant towering legends, the stormy Himalayas, whereas Stan the Man endured as the weathered old Appalachians, like the coal-laden hill behind his boyhood home in Donora, Pennsylvania.

DiMaggio would be remembered for the rose on Marilyn Monroe’s grave.

Williams would be remembered for crash-landing his burning jet on an airfield in South Korea.

But Musial, a diligent businessman with a successful marriage, would be the nice old guy who mimicked his own batting stance in public. Was this a flaw on Musial’s part—or ours?

Today, in Musial’s chosen home of St. Louis, with its fine neighborhoods and hospitals and universities and industry, people refer to Musial as being forgotten or overlooked by coastal America.

“St. Louis thinks of itself as the best baseball town and resents both coasts,” says Rick Wilber, a writer and journalism professor who grew up in the area and whose father, Del Wilber, was a friend and teammate of Musial’s.

It is not hard to pick up on a form of blue-state/red-state resentment toward the two coasts. The issue surfaces on nearly a generational basis, going back to Musial’s arrival late in 1941, when his predecessors, the Gashouse Gang, were regarded as Huns and Vandals let loose in the big eastern cities. The terrific Cardinal teams of the 1980s were easily annoyed by swarms of chattering New York media plus the celebrity of the underachieving Mets players. And the flyover-neglect theory continues into the age of Albert Pujols.

Ladies and gentlemen, on the right side of our airplane, you will see the famed St. Louis Gateway Arch alongside the Mississippi River. And ladies and gentlemen, a few blocks inland you may glimpse a large statue of Stan Musial, a local baseball player who used to be a big deal.

The statue is just about the only lingering controversy in the generally tranquil public life of Stan Musial. Ever since it was unveiled in August 1968, Musial disliked it because it was too bulky and did not capture his coiled stance. Of course, the statue has been a landmark ever since, along with the Arch and the psychic presence of the man himself. As controversies go, the statue issue is pretty tame, as befitting the accepting mid-America region where it is based.

St. Louis is the Mound City, nicknamed for Native American burial mounds in the region, whereas New York is the Media Capital of the World and California is the Dream Capital of the World. New York is where Ruth and DiMaggio and Robinson and Mantle and Mays all gained sporting immortality, and the brainy harbor city of Boston is where Williams gained his twitchy fame, if not always adoration.

“May I tell you this?” said Marty Marion, known as Mr. Shortstop when the Cardinals won four pennants in the forties. Marion observed Musial as a weak-armed minor-league pitcher in spring training of 1941 and a few months later encountered him as the kid from nowhere who hit .426 in the last two weeks of a failed pennant drive—one of the most incredible leaps any player has ever made in one season.

“We always say, in baseball, if you play in New York, you get twice as much publicity, you become more popular,” Marion said in 2000.

“It’s just a known fact that everybody who plays in New York gets all the credit for being the best players or best whatever. Do you believe that? Well, I tell you, it’s a fact. If Stan Musial played in New York City and was a member of the Giants or the Dodgers, he’d have gotten more publicity than he’s gotten so far.”

In that same end-of-millennium rush to quantify, ESPN came up with a series listing the top one hundred North American athletes of the twentieth century (Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and so on). Stan Musial finished sixty-first. Marion insisted that if Musial had played in New York, he would have been among the top twenty-five.

Musial did not complain publicly, but when ESPN began accumulating interviews with famous athletes, Musial would not cooperate, an act of quiet pique. He had his pride, and he had a long memory, as people would discover over the years. Musial let his friends do the speaking for him, and they did. Asked about Joe DiMaggio, Marion said, “I didn’t see him make all these fantastic catches,” meaning the regular season over the years. “I’ve seen guys catch as many things as he catches, but he wasn’t the hitter that Stan was. Joe wasn’t.”

Marion added: “If Joe DiMaggio had of played in St. Louis and Stan Musial had of played with the Yankees, you’d see the difference in their ratings. I’m telling you. It’s a fact. Either you can believe me or not. That’s how ballplayers think.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Morning in Florida 3

1 The Do-Over 5

2 Lucky Stanley 14

3 The Old Master 16

4 Stanley Hits 23

5 The Stance 26

6 A Hand on the Shoulder 33

7 Lukasz and Mary 35

8 Invitation to Lunch 44

9 How Donora Got Its Name 47

10 Mentors 57

11 Lil 67

12 Takeoff 75

13 Pennant Race 84

14 Meet Me at the Fair 89

15 The Mahatma of the Midwest 95

16 Old Navy Buddies 108

17 The War 110

18 Checks All Over the Bed 120

19 Jubilee 126

20 A Visitor on the Train 133

21 BestSeries Ever 135

22 Boat-Rocker 143

23 Stanley the Scout 148

24 The Strike That Never Happened 150

25 Stanley and the Kid 165

26 The BigThreee 167

27 Bad Air 178

28 Family Life 182

29 Day Off in Chicago 198

30 Prime Time 200

31 Stanley Gives an Interview 211

32 Temper, Temper 213

33 And Some Bad Times 216

34 On the Hustings 233

35 Better Pants 241

36 When the Times Changed 243

37 Old Folks 252

38 Fender Bender 261

39 Retirement 262

40 Stanley Runs the Team 271

41 Hometown 282

42 Stanley Goes to a Reunion 289

43 The Polish Connection 290

44 The Face in the Crowd 307

45 Stanley's Statues 310

46 More Funerals 314

47 Upstaged Again 330

Epilogue: Here He Comes Now 336

Acknowledgments 338

Notes 343

Bibliography 371

Index 377

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Big hitter Vecsey scores with [this] tribute.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“[George] Vecsey’s exhaustively researched book, Stan Musial: An American Life, winningly captures the essence of this son of the Depression; it is also filled with yearning for an earlier, perhaps better, time in sports: before steroids and showboating athletes, when the boys of summer traveled to games by train and the World Series ended in mid-October.”—Associated Press
 “Vecsey brings a fans’ reverence and a skilled journalist’s love of incisive research to this book, and the result is a sumptuous trip through a mid-20th century when baseball really was the National Pastime.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Baseball fans get their fix of one of the game’s brightest stars when they read George Vecsey’s new book.”—USA Today
“Fastidiously researched . . . a rich glimpse behind the cheerful facade.”—Sports Illustrated
“A biography of a worthy subject by a worthy author.”—Los Angeles Times
“Plenty of fascinating Musialiana.”—The Wall Street Journal

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Stan Musial 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
jlhilljr on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I read this book during the summer of 2011, while baseball season was in full swing. Though I live in St. Louis, I am not a native St. Louisian nor a Cardinals fan. However, this book brought Stan Musial to life for me. The stories (of varying chapter lengths) are paced and spun well. Though a bit romantic in tone, Vecsey does not completely gloss over some of the pricklier parts of Stan's life and I appreciate this. While I enjoyed the book immensely, the fairly didactic tone of in the beginning chapter risks alienating younger generation readers like myself. I'm more than an avid fan of baseball, history and today, and I nearly put the book down too early. I'm glad I did not.
dds1981 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I really wanted to like this book better. I'm not sure if it's Vecsey's writing style, a natural consequence of an almost oral history approach, if it's a pre-publication draft that hopefully got significant editing before the final release, or some combination of the three. But it was tougher to stay engaged in this book than I thought it would have been.I loved reading about Stan Musial when I was a kid and his hard work ethic and humility shown through vividly here. His early live in Donora near Pittsburgh was well described and his relationship with his parents. And the vast difference in how ball players were treated and the $$$ they made in Musial's day compared to the modern era is stark.However, the book was episodic and tremendously choppy. Anecdotes strung together within chapters didn't always seem connected and the chronology of events was often confusing. A story that would start in the 1960s would have a side reference to something that happened in 1974 and then wrap up in the 1960s again. It doesn't always have to be purely chronological, but the jumping from thought to thought to thought was distracting and required re-reading of passages to make sure I was clear what was going on.
Mantra on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I was just getting into baseball as Stan Musial's career was winding down.I was also a Mickey Mantle and Yankees fan, and, of course, back then it was much more difficult to get information, especially living in Oklahoma, so my knowledgeof Stan Musial came mostly from Hall of Fame discussions, baseball cards and reading books about baseball history.I really knew very little about "Stan the Man" until I read this book. Mr. Vecsey paints a wonderful picture of Musial. He highlights what agreat baseball player he was, he was truly one of the great three of his time - Musial,Williams and Dimaggio. He also shows many sides to Musial that the casual fan probably is not aware of; I certainly wasn't. He was a very humble man, probably as much untouchedby the celebrity of his greatness as any ballplayer was. He had a wonderful sense of humorand loved to tell jokes and stories and pull out his harmonica and play.He campaigned for John F. Kennedy and was close friends with James Michener. He alsohelped out with the Poland baseball program. At age 74, suffering from prostate cancer, he got out of bed and travelled to attend Mickey Mantle's funeral. He was truly a great player and human being. This is a very good read and wonderfully informative.
jamespurcell on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A good book about a good man and a great ball player. One of the big three major league hitters, with Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams that were dominant in the pre and post WW2 era. Mediocre nonentities now earn more in a year than these men earned in their entire careers. Musial was from an area in PA that-produced Joe Montana and the Griffey family among others; moved to St Louis and stayed there for his entire career.
snash on LibraryThing 5 months ago
My sense is that the book did the best it could with a difficult subject. I think it gave a good and true picture of the man and the times. The problem was that Stan Musial was a public man with very little private man available. I would guess his private self wasn't even available to himself. Vecsey tried very hard to find more depth to him but could only get tiny glimpses. That said, his grace, congeniality, and humor came through clearly. A man of another era.
lindapanzo on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I've read more than 250 baseball books/baseball histories and this is one of the better ones. That said, it's very good, not great. The author clearly did his research and interviewed many, many people, from Stan's daughter to current and former players to a man whose father ran a kids' baseball league to which Stan donated money, to try to get a sense for Stan the Man. I wish he'd organized his writing better, making his fascinating tidbits more fluid. Each chapter is quite compartmentalized.I also wish he had done more with what Stan himself thought. Towards the end, the author explains why he didn't interview Musial but I felt like he could've used more contemporary quotes or something. The book would've benefitted from an appendix with Musial's statistics, too.That said, the author relates a number of interesting stories showing Musial's decency and baseball prowess. As a Polish American, Musial was one of my baseball heroes, even though he retired from the Cardinals when I was just a few years old and I was thrilled to learn so much about him, from his childhood in a working class town of Donora, PA to his post-baseball career.Lots of interesting information. Who knew that Musial campaigned for JFK in 1960, along with author James Michener (who became a good friend) and Angie Dickinson? I sure didn't. Later, Musial travelled to Poland with Michener and met the man who would later become Pope John Paul II.The author calls Musial the most underrated ballplayer ever. For some reason, of the Big Three (Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Musial), the other two became more glorified and larger than life as time passed. The harmonica-playing Musial, a typical guy next door, became less glorified as time passed.Musial was a decent man, a much-loved man and this book shows why.As Commissioner Ford Frick said of him "Here lies baseball's perfect warrior. Here lies baseball's perfect knight."Despite its flaws, for someone who's interested in baseball and willing to take the time to get into this book, I'd definitely recommend it.
corgiiman on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A good read that is well researched. Even though I didnt like the flow off the books tempo, the information was very interesting. It gave me an insight to the man who I have always heard about but alas never got to see play.
bane47 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book is an excellent look at one of the more underrated players of the WWII era of baseball. It is a fairly comprehensive biography of Stan Musial with an equal mix of stories about his life on and off the baseball diamond. I have two minor complaints about the book. There are a number of very small chapters in the book that relate some small story that does not otherwise fit in the narrative that could be trimmed. Also, the author denigrates the modern era of baseball unnecessarily in his praise of Musial and his contemporaries. Overall, I learned a lot about a player and era of baseball that I was not very familiar with, and would recommend this book to any fan of the history of baseball.
5hrdrive on LibraryThing 5 months ago
NOTE: This review is of an "uncorrected proof" copy.This book asks the very appropriate question, "Why isn't Stan Musial remembered as readily as some of the other all-time great ballplayers?" After reading the book, I have the answer.Although he was a terrific all-around player, a great teammate, a fantastic hitter, and a three-time World Champion, Stan the Man was , frankly a little dull. He didn't play in New York, he didn't marry and divorce starlets, he didn't spit on his fans or cuss out reporters. He didn't take a controversial stand on race or politics or war or any other issue. He never demanded a trade or insist on a huge salary increase. He didn't embarrass himself, really in any way. He was just a pleasant, caring man who for twenty-plus years played the game as it was meant to be played. For that reason, we tend to forget him as we tend to forget Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, and Frank Robinson.For the very same reason, the book is a little hard to get through. For about three hundred pages it's various people from Stan's baseball career and family saying nothing but nice things about him. This is all great, I wish someone could write a book like that about me, but it doesn't exactly make for a real page-turner.In the end it's like this; Stan Musial, exceptional ballplayer, terrific family man, compassionate human being, uninteresting subject for a biography.
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I have been an avid baseball fan since I was a child and Stan ¿The Man¿ Musial was one of my early heroes of the game. In later years I was disappointed that Musial never seemed to get the acclimation I felt he deserved so I was delighted when this new ¿biography¿ was announced with the promise of rectifying that problem. Vecsey obviously felt the same way about Musial as I did and I applaud his attempt to bring him once again to the attention of baseball fans. Unfortunately the author had to work under the handicap of not being able to interview Musial because he now has Alzheimer¿s disease and there are virtually no primary sources to give him new information about the person that Stan was aside from his prowess as a player. Vecsey, himself, suggests that one of the reasons that Musial has been largely forgotten is because he never made headline news for anything except baseball. He married his high school sweetheart, lived a quiet life and was never involved in a scandal either within baseball or outside of it. He was a generous and kind man and beloved by his colleagues and the fans. The book contains interesting details about the history of the period and about baseball during the mid-20th Century. However, for this reader there was not enough information about The Man outside of his baseball career.
fdholt on LibraryThing 5 months ago
George Vecsey has written many books on baseball so it¿s no surprise that he decided to write about one of the most under-rated players in modern history. Stan Musial, over a period of 22 years, was a consistent ball player who helped the St. Louis Cardinals in many ways, on the field and off. His problem ¿ he wasn¿t controversial. He is still married to his wife of more than 60 years; he is friendly to fans, sports writers and other players; he didn¿t use illegal drugs when he played; he got along with the Cardinals management; he is a genuinely nice person. There are few negative comments in this book. Stan the Man was even liked in rival Brooklyn territory and is enshrined in the Dodgers Hall of Fame. So what can you write and make the book interesting to the reader. Well, lots of things.Born in the mill town of Donora, Pennsylvania, Musial excelled in sports and was signed by the Cardinals out of high school. After pitching in the minor leagues, he was switched to the outfield and was called up in the last weeks of the 1941 season. When he retired in 1963, he had a battling average of .331, playing outfield and first base. (He even pitched in one major league game.) He did not lose any time during the war years like his rivals Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.The most interesting sections dealt with Musial¿s kindness to younger and minority players, even players on opposing teams. When the Cardinals were ready to boycott games with Jackie Robinson¿s Dodgers, Musial was only interested in playing baseball. Needless to say the boycott never happened. Even the Cardinals later added minority players and Musial felt that they should be treated equally, staying at the same hotels and eating in the same facilities. When the spring training hotel had to be changed to a less than ideal location to accommodate all players, he and his family stayed there with the rest of the team. He may not have been the most outspoken player but he let his actions speak for him. Vecsey uses interviews with players, managers, sports writers and the Musial family as well as earlier published material to write the Musial story. Each chapter has endnotes and there is an excellent bibliography/discography. Although there are other Musial biographies and an autobiography published in 1964, this is the first one by a major author. To understand Musial, you need to read this book.
zimbawilson on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I really wanted to like this book. I thought this would be the long awaited definitive biography of the great Stan Musial who has been under praised in my opinion. Unfortunately this book did not live up to expectations. While Vecsey does cover his life throughly the book comes across as very uneven. Vecsey frequently wanders off into areas of little interest to even the biggest fan of Musial. Too much time spent on boring stories of Donora, PA and relatives that add little to understanding the life of "The Man". Perhaps because I had just finished The Last Boy by Jane Leavy which was terrific on so many levels, I was bound to be disappointed with another baseball bio. I really don't think that is the reason though as Vecsey doesn't write enough about baseball and tries too hard to get in his own personal opinions that rubs the reader wrong way eventually.
plumdog28 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is an uneven, ultimately disappointing book. While the author attempts to provide a understanding of Musial's Polish background, Donora, Penn., upbringing, and Catholic generosity, he does so by spending page after page talking about and relating the stories of people who had little or no direct personal contact with Musial. Moreover, the author's conversational style begins to grate on the reader as he continuously repeats the same light patter. At the end of the day, this book should have gone through a more thorough editing, cutting away much of the fluff that adds little to the story of Musial's life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Or you could ask them "what is two plus two and which way is the city of truth?" Then you could tell what city they were from, and use that to see where to go. Ex: "5, and left." You would know they always lie, so you would go right.
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The book was not esy read Stann Muial was MY fav player I had looked forward to reading the book Only to be disapponted with it Slow and showing npo warmth to Stan Th Man Sadly it was money not well spent
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stlfan6 More than 1 year ago
Great book, however it doesn't read like most biographies. This is basically a book tooting Stan Musial's greatness horn...a horn that needs to be tooted more often if you ask me. It is not a "he was born, he grew up, he made it to the MLB, he retired" type of biography, so if you're looking for a book with a lot of factual information, this isn't it. It is more like a compilation of stories from people who knew Stan the Man in addition to facts and information about his life. All in all though, a really good picture of the greatness of The Man!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Baseball became important to me in the early '60s as the career of Stan Musial was winding down. This bio does an excellent job of telling the story of the ballplayer and of the man. A real classy player and a classy person. This will renew interest in THE MAN who was so important to the game.......while he is still with us. Recommended reading for the true fan of the game.