When baseball fans voted on the top 25 players of the 20th century in 1999, Stan Musial didn’t make the cut. This glaring omission - later rectified by a panel of experts - aised an important question: How could a first-ballot Hall of Famer, widely considered one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, still rank as the most underrated athlete of all time?
In Stan Musial, veteran sports journalist George Vecsey finally gives this 20-time All-Star and St. Louis Cardinals icon the kind of prestigious biographical treatment previously afforded to his more celebrated contemporaries Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. More than just a chronological recounting of the events of Musial’s life, this is the definitive portrait of one of the game’s best-loved but most unappreciated legends, told through the remembrances of those who played beside, worked with, and covered “Stan the Man” over the course of his nearly seventy years in the national spotlight.
Stan Musial never married a starlet. He didn’t die young, live too hard, or squander his talent. There were no legendary displays of temper or moodiness. He was merely the most consistent superstar of his era, a scarily gifted batsman who compiled 3,630 career hits (1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road), won three World Series titles, and retired in 1963 in possession of seventeen major-league records. Away from the diamond, he proved a savvy businessman and a model of humility and graciousness toward his many fans in St. Louis and around the world. From Keith Hernandez’s boyhood memories of Musial leaving tickets for him when the Cardinals were in San Francisco to the little-known story of Musial’s friendship with novelist James Michener - and their mutual association with Pope John Paul II - Vecsey weaves an intimate oral history around one of the great gentlemen of baseball’s Greatest Generation.
There may never be another Stan the Man, a fact that future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols - reluctantly nicknamed “El Hombre” in Musial’s honor - is quick to acknowledge. But thanks to this long-overdue reappraisal, even those who took his greatness for granted will learn to appreciate him all over again.
“Although Stan Musial is universally regarded as one of baseball's greatest players, he is nevertheless underrated. He played far from the national media spotlight, in America's best baseball city, St. Louis. (One reason it is the best: Musial played there.) And his amazing consistency - he got 1,815 hits on the road and 1,815 at home - made him unspectacularly spectacular. Happily, and at long last, George Vecsey has taken Musial's measure in this delightful biography of a man and a baseball era.” (George Will)
“A fascinating and profound look at the most underrated great player of all time, and one of the true gentlemen of the game, Stan Musial. No one researches a book like George Vecsey. I learned something on every page.”(Tim Kurkjian, Senior Writer for ESPN the Magazine and analyst for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter)
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Vecsey is great... narrator, not so much
I knew very little about Stan Musial before reading this book and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him through Vecsey's writing. Details that may have seemed mundane early in the book, created "ah, that's why he wrote about that moments" later on.
Stan the Man!
I've listened to a couple other books that Brick was OK with. Apparently biographies are not his strong suit as he over dramatizes the reading to the point that I had to set down my iPod and walk away. Listening to this book you would think Bricks, breathy, emotionally laden description of the best cuts of meat in Stanley's restaurant was akin to the death of a Pope! I will think twice before ever getting a book read by this narrator.
- Daniel Stromme
- Michael A. Fox