"Here stands baseball's perfect warrior, here stands baseball's perfect knight". These are the words inscribed on the monument dedicated to Stanley Frank Musial by the people of St. Louis. It may seem strange at first to describe a baseball player as a warrior or knight; however, if we think of baseball players in a "jousting" context, we might appreciate the inscription.
Webster's dictionary defines "joust" as a personal combat or competition. That is exactly what happens every time a batter faces a pitcher. Standing approximately 19 meters apart, each faces the other, each is armed, each is dangerous. The pitcher's weapon is a very hard ball which he throws at the batter with every ounce of his energy. The ball reaches speeds of up to 165 kilometers per hour. The batter's weapon, a solid bat, is used in attempting to hit the ball should it enter the strike zone (an area over the home plate between the batter's knees and his armpits). The key phrase "in attempting" is used because one of the most difficult sport-related tasks is to hit a baseball. The eye-hand coordination and concentration necessary to accomplish this is awesome, given the velocity at which the ball is pitched or delivered. Very few are capable of accomplishing this ... let alone accomplishing it consistently. Stan "the Man" is one who has excelled in the combat against pitchers.
Stan Musial played with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941 until 1963. During this period, he took part in 3,026 games, was at bat 10,972 times and made contact with the ball 3,630 times. He scored 1,949 runs and batted in 1,951. His life time batting average is .331. Stan led the National League 'in total bases' for 6 years and high batting average for the same period. He held 7 National League Batting Titles and was voted 'Most Valuable Player' in 1943, 1946 and 1948. In 1954, Stan Musial was the first player to hit 5 home runs in a doubleheader against the New York Giants.
When Stan Musial retired, he held 17 major league titles, 29 National League and 9 All-Star Game records. He was proudly elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1969. His hometown of St. Louis erected a statue of him, its most famous baseball player, at Busch Stadium in 1968. Sports magazines such as Sporting ews elected Stan the best Major League tayer of the Year twice, in 1946 and in 951, and this same magazine honored im as "Player of the Decade" for his achievements between 1956 and 1964. Interesting notes on Stan's batting career:
* His 3,OOOth hit (something very few players accomplish) was off Chicago Cubs pitcher Moe Drabowsky, who was born in Poland. * When Stan broke the batting record of 3,430 hits it was another Pole who was pitching, Dodger Ron Perranoski.
Howard J. Lamade Stadium
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME
In the US, one song is sung at the beginning of every organized sporting event. Be it a football, basketball or baseball game, the Star Spangled Banner is sung proudly by all in attendance including the players. At the end of America's National Anthem in a baseball stadium the umpire shouts "Play ball!" to officially declare the start of the game. After the 7th inning of the game, when the offensive players exchange places with the defensive players, the fans all stand and "stretch themselves" after sitting for some hours on hard benches. It is during this slight intermission, known as the "7th inning stretch", that traditionally another song known by every child and adult throughout the land is sung...
Take me out to the ballgame
Take me out to the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks,
I don't care if I never get back.
For its root root root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame
For it's one, two, three strikes you're out At the old ballgame.
No other sport boasts a song of its own!