So what if hes a Cardinal

He is THE Cardinal.

Stan Musial turned 90 on Sunday.  This column at STLToday counts off: 90 things to love about The Man

Here are a few.

17 ? While Ted Williams and other esteemed hitters of the day pontificated about their approach to hitting, Musial kept it refreshingly simple. “You wait for a strike, then you knock the tar out of it,” Musial said

42 ? Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine was once so frustrated by his inability to get The Man out that he wrote a song called “The Stan Musial Blues.” Erskine was asked how to pitch to Musial: “I’ve had pretty good success with Stan by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third,” he said.

48 ? Pitcher Don Newcombe: “I could have rolled the ball up there to Musial, and he would have pulled out a golf club and hit it out.”

52 ? In 1999, Musial was given the Cavalier Cross of the Order of Merit, the highest honor that the Polish government bestows upon a civilian. Musial is immensely proud of that honor. Accordingly, Musial is worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that a civilian can receive from the President of the United States. Congratulations on your latest, and most prestigious, award, Stan.

57 ? The Man is so cool, that Pope John Paul II had Stan and Lil travel to the Vatican in Rome to be his guests at dinner. And Musial was among the primary reasons why John Paul II visited St. Louis in January 1999.

62 ? Musial played in 2,907 regular-season and 23 postseason major-league games and was never ejected from a game by an umpire.

68 ? Ty Cobb on Musial: “No man has ever been a perfect ballplayer. Stan Musial, however, is the closest to being perfect in the game today. I’ve seen greater hitters and greater runners and greater fielders, but he puts them all together like no one else … in my book, he’s a better player than Joe DiMaggio was in his prime.”

74 ? Musial played a positive role in baseball’s integration. He’s never been given enough credit for that. Musial was openly supportive of African American players at a time when they encountered imposing ugliness and hostility from other players, coaches, managers and fans. The immortal Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color line said that “Musial always treated me with courtesy.” This was nothing new to Musial. As a young player in Donora, he’d had African-American teammates and friends, including Buddy Griffey (Ken Griffey Jr.’s grandfather) and always backed them.

75 ? African American pitcher Joe Black told a story of being racially taunted by players in the St. Louis dugout during a Cardinals-Dodgers game. Musial, batting at the time, kicked the dirt as if to convey his disappointment. After the game, Musial sought out the young Joe Black and told him, “I’m sorry that happened. But don’t you worry about it. You’re a great pitcher. You will win a lot of games.” Black never forgot that.

76 ? Willie Mays has praised Musial through the years for extending his friendship to African American players during those tense days. Here’s a story from Mays, who told it to Kansas City Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews: “All-Star Game, late Fifties. There were seven black players on the National League All-Stars. We were in the back of the clubhouse playing poker and none of the white guys had come back or said, ‘Hi,’ or ‘How’s it going?’ or ‘How you guys doing?’ or ‘Welcome to the All-Star Game.’ Nothing. We’re playing poker and all of a sudden I look up and here comes Stan toward us. He grabs a chair, sits down and starts playing poker with us. And Stan didn’t know how to play poker! But that was his way of welcoming us, of feeling a part of it, making us feel a part of it. I never forgot that. We never forgot that.”

You are going to want to go read it all.

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