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Monday, January 21, 2013

Stan Musial: An Irreplaceable Icon and the Story of His Missing Baseball Cards


by +Dean Hanley
We were sad to hear about the passing of Stan Musial on Jan. 19, 2013 -- not just because of his performance on the baseball field but also because of the low key way he conducted his life. The New York Times put it best in its eulogy on “Stan the Man” with this headline: “The Star Who Stood Out by Not Standing Out.” 

Musial finished his career with 3630 hits, and he had exactly 1815 hits at home and 1815 hits on the road, which proves his overall clutch performance. And Musial’s last hit in 1963 went by a rookie second baseman named Pete Rose, who eventually broke Musial’s National League hits record and then went on to break Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record.
Click here to see this 1953 Stan Musial
Bowman baseball card.
Baseball card collectors also know another unique fact about Musial. From 1954 through 1957, there were no Stan Musial baseball cards available because he would not sign a contract with Topps. Musial previously had a contract with Bowman and there were Musial cards available before 1954.

There is a famous story about the owner of the St. Louis Cardinals, Gussie Busch, approaching Sy Berger from Topps for a contribution to a charity, which finally resulted in Musial’s cards becoming available again. Berger said he would make the donation if Busch could get Musial to sign a contract with Topps. So in the last baseball card series of 1958, a special Stan Musial All Star card became available. 

Click here to the 1958 Stan Musial Topps
All Star card
And in 1959, Musial’s card became available in the Topps set.

Click here to see the 1959 Stan Musial Topps
baseball card available at  Dean's Cards.
Musial was 43 years old when he played his last game for the Cardinals. He became a beloved fixture in the St. Louis community, often showing up at events to play his harmonica. He also learned a trick from his pal, John Wayne, about dealing with the constant autograph seekers. Wayne told Musial how he carried around autographed photos of himself to pass out to those who asked for an autograph – so Musial started doing the same thing!
Click here to see the last baseball card
issued during Stan Musial's active playing  career: the 1963 Topps Stan Musial card
With Stan Musial's passing, baseball has lost one of its true icons from the game’s glory days.