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Major League Baseball Loses Legends of Earl Weaver and Stan Musial

January 19th, 2013 at 9:44 PM
By Cody Fields

Major League Baseball lost two of its legends when two Hall of Famers - former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver and former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Stan Musial – passed away Saturday.

Weaver died due to a heart attack Saturday morning on an Orioles fantasy cruise in the Caribbean, orioles.com reports. He was 82.

Musial, meanwhile, died while surrounded family at his home outside of St. Louis. He was 92.

Musial played all 22 seasons of his big league career with the Cardinals. Splitting time between all three outfield positions and first base, he established himself between 1941-1963 as one of the greatest left-handed hitters of all time. His lifetime average stands at .331 with 475 homers, all while never striking out more than 46 times in a season. He led the National League in hitting eight times, slugging six times, on-base percentage six times, won three MVPs, three World Series and was a 24-time All-Star. (There were two All-Star games per year during some of his playing days).

Stan "The Man," as he would come to be called, displayed an iconic, uncoiling swing and even missed the 1945 season while serving in the military in World War II. His service time led to President Barack Obama awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969 with 93 percent of the vote.

Perhaps the most telling stat of Musial's personality was his home/road split. For his career, Musial recorded 1,815 hits at home. On the road, he had 1,815 hits.

But even as gaudy as his achievements were, Musial was known for his modesty, humility and a soft smile. Bob Costas remembered him in ESPN's SportsCentury series as told by cardinals.com.

"He didn't hit a homer in his last at-bat; he hit a single. He didn't hit in 56 straight games. He married his high school sweetheart and stayed married to her, never married a Marilyn Monroe. He didn't play with the sheer joy and style that goes alongside Willie Mays' name. … All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being."

Weaver, on the other hand, was the polar opposite of Musial. At 5-foot-7 on a good day, the undersized Weaver languished in the minor leagues for 14 seasons as a second baseman and never even sniffed a cup of coffee with a Major League club. But in 1968, the Orioles gave him a shot at managing, and Weaver took what had been a mediocre team to a second place finish in his first year.

The 1969 season marked Weaver's first full managerial year, and he took the Orioles to the World Series, the first of their four American League pennants under his leadership. A 39-year-old Weaver would help the Orioles win the 1970 World Series the following year. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.

Weaver's 1,480 wins are the most in Oriole history. He won six division championships, 100 games three seasons in a row and was ejected from an American League record 94 games. He held the Major League record for ejections until former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox broke it with 132.

And those ejections and tirades live on in baseball lore. Weaver was (in)famous for getting under an umpire's skin to rally his team. No one could turn his cap backwards and get in an umpire's face who was at least a head taller than Weaver. He was known to walk halfway to the dugout, turn around and come back just in an attempt to get the final word.

He would smoke in the dugout, which would induce heart-stopping shock these days, but even got to calling relief pitcher Don Stanhouse "Fullpack," saying that he would smoke a full pack of cigarettes every time Stanhouse took the mound.

Weaver was notorious for knowing his pitcher-batter matchups and his philosophy of "pitching, defense and the three-run homer." He hated to bunt, because he felt like it wasted one of his team's 27 outs.

One of Weaver's most known one-liners came after he declined an invitation from Pat Kelley to go to a Sunday chapel service. Kelley asked him, "Don't you want to walk with the Lord?" Weaver replied, "I'd rather walk with the bases loaded." In fairness, Weaver did take the time to thank God during his Hall of Fame induction speech.

Funeral plans for both Musial and Weaver have yet to be announced.

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball Hall of Fame, Earl Weaver, MLB, St. Louis Cardinals, Stan Musial

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