OUR STORY TAKES US BACK TO ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI ON THIS DATE IN 1958. Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals became the highest paid player in National League history. Stan “The Man” gratefully stroked his signature across a contract worth $100,000. Musial was being richly rewarded for winning his seventh batting title in 1957 with a .357 average. He drove in more than 100 runs for the tenth time in his career. The Associated Press reported that only Ted Williams of the American League’s Boston Red Sox probably makes more at an estimated $125,000.
The Cardinals made it clear they wanted Stan to stick around. According to the Associated Press the 37-year old former outfielder who now plays first base, told reporters, ”Baseball has rewarded me richly, and the Cardinals have always treated me more than fairly, this year in particular. I would have settled for less.”
Musial went on to hit .337 in 1958. He would play six more seasons, finishing with a lifetime .331 average. He was not considered a home run hitter, but hit over 30 six times and finished with 475 for his career.
Stan Musial was named to 24 all-star teams (there were two all-star games some years back then). The man richly rewarded with the biggest contract in National League history, was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
Associated Press, January 30, 1958
AUGUST 3, 1959 | LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA • The Major League Baseball all-star game was such a hit since it was introduced in Chicago in 1933, many people thought, ‘Let’s play two all-star games.’ For four seasons that’s what was done.
A second MLB all-star game was played on this date in 1959. Dual classics were the norm for four seasons – 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962. The American League won this contest in front of 55,105 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum, avenging a National League victory on July 7th at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The LA Coliseum (predominantly a football .dium) was the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who came to the west coast in 1958, while Dodger Stadium was being built.
The pitchers of record for this second mid-summer classic were the starters. Jerry Walker of the Baltimore Orioles won it for the American League. Dodger Don Drysdale, pitching in front of his hometown fans, was the loser for the National League.
Jerry Walker was a 20-year old rising star with an 8-4 record at the time of the second all-star game. He never became the kind of star this all-star game foreshadowed. Walker never won more than eight games in any season and finished his eight year major league career with a record of 34 and 44.
Getting back to the August, 1959 all-star game, the highlights were LA Dodgers the introductions of superstars Stan Musial and Ted Williams who were both reaching the ends of their careers. Both would end up in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
The Associated Press, August 4, 1959, Los Angeles, CA
1959 All-star games
OTHER STUFF – An excellent series of articles on Midwest Ballparks in Chicago Magazine by Jeff Ruby: “Playing the Fields”
1958 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Stan Musial got his 3,000th hit on this date in 1958, a double off the Chicago Cubs‘ Moe Drabowky at Wrigley Field. At the time only seven players in history had reached 3,000 hits; Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Eddie Collins, Cap Anson, Paul Waner and Nap Lajoie, quite a list.
Stanley Frank Musial ended up with 3,630 hits in a career that spanned 22 years. As of this writing, he is fourth on the all-time career hits list. Only Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose have more.
Musial was born in Donora, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh on November 21, 1920. He played mostly outfield, but also over a thousand games at first base.
He was a great hitter with amazing consistency. Musial had a lifetime batting average of .331. He hit .336 at home and .336 on the road. Musial was National League Most Valuable Player three times; 1943, 1946 and 1948.
Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine once said, “I’ve had pretty good success with Stan by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third.”
Musial spent his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals.
3,000 hits club