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The passing of a great Stan Musial

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Cardinals legend dies at age 92

Baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial passed away last week at the age of 92. He is one of the all-time greats, among the historic leaders in almost every statistical category. He won three National League MVP Awards and was elected to 24 All-Star teams, all with the St. Louis Cardinals over the course of a career that spanned over two decades from 1941 to 1963.

And he might be the most underrated great player in Major League Baseball history.

While the folks in St. Louis have always understood the greatness of 'Stan the Man,' he was a bit of an afterthought to baseball fans in the rest of the country. Despite his lengthy and brilliant career, Musial always seemed to take a backseat to other stars on the era. He was constantly being overshadowed by peers DiMaggio and Williams in the '40s, Mantle and Mays in the '50s.

This despite numbers that line up with the greatest to ever play the game. Musial's career batting average was .331 and hit 475 home runs. He also sits among the top 10 in most significant categories fourth in hits, third in doubles, ninth in runs scored, sixth in runs batted in. In fact, Musial put up one of the most impressive and fascinating statistics in MLB history. He had 3,630 hits over the course of his career 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road. The game had never seen that degree of across-the-board consistency before, nor has it been seen since.

You could easily make the argument that Musial was one of the 10 greatest hitters in the long and storied history of the game. Despite that, he often seemed to be on the outside looking in when it came to recognizing baseball's greats. The most egregious of these oversights probably took place in 1999, when MLB named its All-Century Team. When the fans selected the initial 25-man roster, Musial inexplicably missed the cut, finishing 11th among outfielders. Musial only made the team after being one of five players added by the league post-voting.

Musial's was not a flashy greatness. He didn't inspire the sort of breathless legend talk that some of his contemporaries did. All he did was hit the baseball as well as anyone who had ever played the game, all while being one of the good guys of the game. His love of baseball and unceasing work as an ambassador for the sport were enough for him.

At a time when the Hall of Fame ballot is populated by players who prompt questions about the integrity of the game, players like Stan Musial should be celebrated. He was the kind of man we desperately want our sporting heroes to be congenial, respectful and joyful. His love of the game was undeniable and unending, and his numbers bear him out as one of the greatest to ever take the field.

RIP, Stan the Man. The baseball world will be poorer for your absence.

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