Hall of Fame
outfielder Stan Musial played in the major leagues from 1941 to 1963. In 1992,
Stan talked with Jim about his peek-a-boo batting stance and negotiating
contracts with the Cardinals' owner.
Stan Musial didn't need a batting coach - or an agent
In his early days, long before he retired from 22 seasons of major league
ball in 1963, Stan Musial was a slender sort with his own batting
stance, one that was described as a guilty kid peeking around a corner. No one
taught it to him, unlike today, when batting coaches often put their imprint on
a prospect. According to Musial, batting stance and approach should be dictated
by a hitters' style and desires, not by a hitting coach.
"When I came along, I was just
trying to cut down the strike zone, so I hunched down a lot and just tried to
punch the ball to left field. I wanted to control the plate. It's not so much
the stance, so far as the hitter goes, it's coming out of that stance and
getting a good swing."
A little lousy pitching didn't hurt a fellow, either.
With today's middle-inning relief specialists and late-inning closers,
Musial indicated it might be a little tougher to hit against teams with a
couple of good starters and a solid bullpen.
Starters soaked up most of the innings when Musial played, and not every
club had a deep, talented pitching staff despite the fact there were fewer
teams and baseball had less difficulty attracting young, talented athletes.
But if a man was in a little slump, the schedule might accommodate him and
resolve the slide. Musial recalls a hitter could sometimes hope to climb out of
a nosedive at the plate by playing the right team.
"I liked going to Boston: Good lobsters and a weak pitching
Had an agent, but not for game
On the business side of the game, Musial said he was ahead of his time. He
had an agent as far back as the 1940s. But the man was not hired to negotiate
Musial's salary. Musial was widely regarded as an easy-going person and someone
who found most salary offers to his liking.
"The agent handled endorsements for me and Ted Williams and Sam Snead.
We'd pick up an extra twenty-five to thirty thousand a year from these
Musial saw no need for help with the simple process of negotiating his
"It seems like everyone is in a business manner today. Too serious. We
relaxed and had fun. The means of travel was slower and we spent a lot of time
together on trains. I always got along fine in salary discussions with the
"In 1957 they asked me what I wanted and I told them that Ralph
Kiner was the highest paid guy in the league at $90,000, so I wanted
$91,000. But Gussie Busch wanted me to be the first $100,000-a-year player, so
they gave me that."
Today, someone like Chicago Cubs' second baseman Ryne Sandberg makes
$7 million annually and some old-time baseball players, and current fans, think
these salaries are outrageous. Musial thinks that might not be too far out of
line. He bases this on a recent conversation with California Angels' owner
Gene Autry, who told Musial -- a career .331 hitter -- that if Stan the
Man were playing today he would be making a million dollars a month.
Well, spring training covers March. The regular season comprises six months
and creeps into October, fairly deep into October if a team gets to the World
Series. That's more than seven months.
At a million per month, that would put Musial's salary today in the
neighborhood of $7 million a year. There's little doubt at least one team owner
would offer Stan Musial a contract like that today.