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Posted by Jan - 22 - 2013 0 Comment

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I would be telling my three readers (found out someone new is following these posts) who my favorite baseball player was and I also said you wouldn’t be surprised.  But since then, two baseball icons have taken their last at bats.  So to those who are not as crazy about baseball as me, let me enlighten you about these two men, Stan Musial and Earl Weaver.

stan the man

Stan “the man” Musial passed away the other day, and for those who knew baseball, we have lost one of the best.  He was a St. Louis Cardinal his whole major league baseball career. He had one of the sweetest swings I ever saw, and played the game with youthful enthusiasm.  Stan the Man won seven National League batting titles, was a three-time MVP and helped the Cardinals capture three World Series championships in the 1940s. I never saw him play in person, let alone in his prime.  I saw him during the end of his career and only on occasions. “Back in the day”…baseball was not on 24/7. Got to see maybe one game a week and usually my Tribe was not on. That is when I got my glimpse of Stan the Man.  He had power and could go to any field. Nothing fancy, but all professionalism.  He ALWAYS had a smile on his face. And this was when most ball players made no money; had no endorsement deals; and worked full-time jobs in the off season. But he LOVED playing the game! And it showed.  Maybe that is what stood out for me. He had the passion of the game I tried to play, but couldn’t. His passion proved to me, I could have the same passion, but in other ways. Coaching my son and other father’s sons, teach them the game, the history of it; to honor it and respect it. But above all, enjoy every moment of it! Take some time and view Stan’s stats and there are two that stand one. One, he has the same number of hits at home as he had on the road. 1815! Consistency will take one far, and far he went.  The other is 71.  Won’t find it in his baseball stats, since this is the number of years he was married to his beloved wife. Again, consistency! But above all, commitment. Put those two together and you get an exemplary ballplayer and human being.

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EarlWeaver1

Within hours of Stan Musial’s death, we learned of another, Earl Weaver. Earl was someone who people came to a game to see. Not because he could dominate from the mound; or take your pitcher deep in the top of the ninth! No Earl was not one to make the impression between the lines, he made his mark “outside the lines”, as a manager of some of the best teams in baseballo. Earl was the manager of the Baltimore Orioles from 1968 to the mid 1980’s.  He took the O’s to the World Series four times, winning the whole enchilada in 1970. Although he NEVER played an inning in the “bigs” he knew baseball. Yeah it helped to have such players as Brooks and Frank Robinson; Boog Powell; Jim Palmer; Cal Ripken to name a few, but he had to manage them. And manage he did.

He believed in “pitching, defense and the 3-run homer”. He knew the game and no one could say he didn’t and that included umpires.  He would challenge them and in one of the classic manager rants of all time, he THREW THEM OUT!

Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver

Another time, after disputing a call at 2nd, Earl rushed the field and argued the call. Although he went to far, in the ump’s minds and was tossed, he still had to prove his point. Into the dugout he marched, only to return with the rule book in hand.  When he then tried to point out the error of the call of the umps and they would not listen, he proceeded to ripe the book apart, tossing the pages all over the field.  (Imagine doing that to your boss who says you’re wrong!)  Earl knew the game and would not let a mistake go unchallenged. Earl also knew baseball was entertainment and would treat those in the stands to it, even if you were viewing him as the opponent. Compared to some modern day managers who stand stoically in the dugout, arms crossed, glaring emotionless to the playing field, Earl brought something to the game, even though he did not play it.

These two vastly different players and personalities made baseball what it was, and to me, still is. A game that required passion; enjoyment; desire; and respect. Each did that in their own ways and that is what makes them members of the Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

And as a one-time owner of the Indians used to sing, “Thanks for the memories…!”

@jnmentor – Twitter

Categories: Cleveland Indians, General

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