Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

January 24, 2013

Hall remembers two of their own

Staff Report
Cooperstown Crier

---- — The plaques of two baseball hall of famers have been adorned with flowers at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and museum.

The number of living members has dropped from 62 to 60. Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver died at age 82 on Friday and Hall of Fame outfielder Stan Musial died at age 92 on Saturday.

Weaver, who was ejected from more ballgames than any other manager in American League history, died while on a Caribbean cruise. The skipper of the Baltimore Orioles for 17 seasons was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. He led the team to a World Series title in 1970 and three other American League pennants in 1969, 1971 and 1979.

He recorded a 1,480-1,060 record (.583 winning percentage) as a major league manager. At the time of his election in 1996, he was the 13th major league manager in history elected to the baseball shrine.

According to Chairwoman of the Hall of Fame Jane Forbes Clark, Weaver was one of the most colorful personalities and fearless leaders the game has ever known.

“He managed with intensity, flair and an acerbic wit that made him a legend in Baltimore and among baseball fans everywhere. He will be deeply missed in Cooperstown. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Marianna, and the entire Weaver family,” she said in a media release.

Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said in the release: “When you discuss our game’s motivational masters, Earl is a part of that conversation. He was a proven leader in the dugout and loved being a Hall of Famer. Though small in stature, he was a giant as a manager, especially among Oriole fans, who lovingly referred to him as ‘The Earl of Baltimore.’”

Weaver has been known to say the job of arguing with the umpire belongs to the manager because it won’t hurt the team if he gets thrown out of the game. He once said, “Bad ballplayers make good managers, not the other way around. All I can do is help them be as good as they are.”

Hall of Famer Dave Windield said in the Hall of Fame release that he will always remember “The Earl of Baltimore” by his challenges to the umpires, his willing his Orioles teams to challenge for league championships, for their defense and then getting the three-run homer, the cigarette smoking at the end of the dugout and most of all his “happy experiences” at the Hall of Fame weekends. He described Weaver as “a gruff old school manager that spoke his mind.”

In the Hall of Fame release, Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said Weaver was a fun guy and a pretty shrewd manager.

“He always said what he thought and try to beat you any way he could. Earl was great for Baltimore, for sure. He was great for baseball,” Berra added.

Almost a century after his retirement, Musial remains the face of the Cardinals’ franchise he helped turn into a dynasty.

A three-time MVP and seven-time national League batting champion, “Stan the Man” as many referred to him, helped the St. Louise Cardinals win three World Series in the 1940s. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1969 on his first appearance on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot. He received 93.2 percent of the vote, and between 1937 and 1969, only two players (Bob Feller and Ted Williams) received a higher percentage of the BBWAA vote.

According to Clark, Musial is a “favorite in Cooperstown, from his harmonica rendition of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ during Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, to the reverence he commanded among other Hall of Fame members and all fans of the game.”

“More than just a baseball hero, Stan was an American icon and we will very much miss him in Cooperstown,” she said.

Musial began his pro baseball career as a left-handed pitcher in 1938 after signing with the Cardinals. In 1940, Musial was 18-5 with Daytona Beach. But while playing the outfield because there was a shortage of players, Musial permanently damaged his left shoulder while diving for a ball.

Dickie Kerr, Musial’s manager, suggested that Musial turn to hitting. The next year he hit so well he received the call-up with St. Louis.

The Cardinals won the World Series in 1942 even though Musial was hitting under .320 as the team’s everyday left fielder. The next season turned around for him however. Musial won his first of three National League Most Valuable Player awards for leading the Cardinals back to the World Series, where they were defeated by the Yankees.

Musial and the Cardinals captured the World Series again in 1944, and after taking 1945 off to serve in the Navy, Musial won his second MVP in 1946 while leading St. Louis to its third World Series title in five seasons.

Despite his odd batting stance, Musial had his greatest offensive season in 1948, hitting a career-high .376 while missing the Triple Crown by just one home run. He won his third and final MVP that year.

The next season, Musial finished second in the MVP voting for the first of three straight seasons and played in his sixth All-Star Game. Over the final 14 years of his career, Musial would play in 18 more All-Star Games (two per season from 1959-62). His 24 All-Star Game selections are more than anyone except Hank Aaron.

Musial hit a batting slump in 1959 when he hit a career-low .255 and asked the Cardinals to slash his salary. He was able to bounce back, and over the next few years made a run at the National League batting title in 1962. The 41-year-old had to settle on third place with a .330 average, but finished his career with seven National League batting championships.

Musial retired after the 1963 season with a .331 batting average. At the time, he held the National League record for hits with 3,630. His hit count still ranks fourth all-time, his 6,134 total bases still rank second, his 725 doubles third and his 1,951 RBIs are sixth.

His 895 consecutive games played from 1952-57 rank eighth on the all-time list, and Musial was the first player to appear in at least 1,000 games at two different positions (outfielder and first base).

In 2010 Musial was named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, receiving the medal from President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony in 2011.

Idelson said Musial will be remembered in baseball annals as one of the pillars of the game, with his many successes on the diamond, the passion with which he played, and his engaging personality.

“He utilized his trademark corkscrew swing to perfection, torching National League pitching to the tune of seven batting titles and gaudy career numbers. He played so well when the Cardinals visited Ebbets Field, Brooklyn fans dubbed him ‘The Man’, and he was, in every sense. The mold broke with Stan. There will never be another like him,” he said.

The Cardinals announced Musial’s death in a news release and said he died at his home in Ladue, a St. Louis suburb, surrounded by family.