Hall of Fame baseball player Stan Musial, who used an unorthodox batting style to become one of the sport’s greatest hitters in 22 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, died on Saturday at age 92, his former team said in a statement.
Musial, adored by fans for his humility and easy-going manner as much as his baseball skill, died at his home in Ladue, Missouri, surrounded by his family, the team said.
“We have lost the most beloved member of the Cardinals family,” William DeWitt Jr., chairman of the Cardinals, said in a statement. “Stan Musial was the greatest player in Cardinals history and one of the best players in the history of baseball.”
Once a pitcher in the minor leagues, Musial became one of baseball’s greatest all-around players and was named to the All-Century team in 1999. He reached the majors in 1941, and by the time he retired in 1963 had won three Most Valuable Player awards and been on three World Series championship teams.
Musial finished his career with a .331 batting average. He totaled 3,630 hits, 475 home runs and 1,951 RBIs in 3,026 regular-season games. He played in 24 All-Star games and was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, in 1969.
Opposing pitcher Preacher Roe of the Brooklyn Dodgers, when asked how to pitch Musial said, “I throw him four wide ones and try to pick him off first base.” Another Dodger pitcher, Carl Erskine, said, “I’ve had pretty good success with Stan by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third.”
Musial was born Nov. 21, 1920, in the coal-mining town of Donora, Pa. He began playing semi-pro baseball by age 15 and was also a top high school basketball player.
Musial signed a professional baseball contract in 1938. He had to give up being a pitcher due to a shoulder injury. Concentrating on playing the outfield and hitting, he developed a corkscrew swing — coiled with his back almost facing the pitcher as he peeked around his shoulder — that became one of the most unique swings in major league baseball.
He also played a role in the integration of baseball by openly supporting Jackie Robinson when he broke the racial line in 1947 with the Dodgers.
Musial’s death came on the same day as that of Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, who led the Baltimore Orioles to four American League titles and a World Series championship. Weaver was 82.