“Stan the Man” Musial is honored this week, along with Pearl Harbor Day on December 7th, as we remember the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. An additional 1,178 people were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships; the USS Arizona and the USS Utah. Musial rose to the call of duty and served in the United States Navy, postponing an already successful baseball career.
After signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1938, he began his baseball career as a pitcher for Williamson. He switched to the outfield due to a shoulder injury while playing for Daytona Beach. He moved through the Cardinal minor league system quickly, before an end of season call-up, hitting .426.
Noted for his unique batting stance, he became one of the best hitters in the National League and helped the Cardinals to capture the World Series Championship in 1942.
Between the 1943 and 1944 seasons he supported the war effort and traveled with the USO Sponsored Group to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands to entertain troops and boost morale by playing baseball.
After his enlistment in 1945, he was assigned to Bainbridge Naval Training Center in Maryland and played baseball with other MLB players stationed there. There, he became more of a power hitter by altering his batting stance in order to hit more home runs to impress and entertain troops.
Musial was then sent to Hawaii after being assigned to Special Services. He was put on a ship launch unit and was responsible for launching battle-damaged ships and ferrying personnel back to port. He also continued to play baseball for a ship repair team to help relieve the stress of wartime.
In 1945, Musial was granted emergency leave to return home because of his ailing father. Once his father had recovered, he was assigned duty in Philadelphia. He was discharged in 1946 and returned to the Cardinals.
He retired in 1963 after a long and successful playing career. Musial garnered 17 Major League records, 29 National League records, and 9 All-Star game records. During his first year of eligibility in 1969, Musial was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He also received the Medal of Freedom Award in 2011 from President Obama. It is the highest civilian award that can be bestowed on a person by the United States government. Stan will also be remembered for the sweet sound of his harmonica playing.
The Foundation recognizes Musial for his service in the United States Navy, his contribution to his ship launch unit, and for his love of country. His legacy lives on through his military efforts and his baseball successes.