Hall of Famer Stan Musial dies

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Stan Musial, one of the greatest players in baseball history, died Saturday evening. He was 92.

A three-time National League MVP and seven-time NL batting champion, Musial played his entire 22-year major league career (1941-63) for the St. Louis Cardinals. Nicknamed "Stan the Man," Musial was a 24-time All-Star selection and was a first ballot Hall of Fame selection in 1969.

"We have lost the most beloved member of the Cardinals family," Cardinals chairman William DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. "Stan Musial was the greatest player in Cardinals history and one of the best players in the history of baseball. The entire Cardinals organization extends its sincere condolences to Stan's family, including his children Richard, Gerry, Janet and Jean, as well as his eleven grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren."

The Cardinals said Musial died at his home in Ladue in St. Louis County and he was surrounded by his family. Musial was under hospice care and had reportedly been battling Alzheimer's disease.

The first player in Cardinals history to have his uniform number retired, the left-handed batting Musial played all three outfield positions and at first base during his illustrious career.

A bronze statue of Musial stands outside Busch Stadium and sits on Musial Plaza along Stan Musial Drive, today one of the favorite gathering places for fans of the Cardinals.

A member of three World Series teams with the Cardinals (1942, 1944, 1946, Musial was able to play in 24 All-Star contests because Major League Baseball held two of the games each season from 1959-62.

"It is a very sad day for me. I knew Stan very well. He used to take care of me at All-Star games, 24 of them," Hall of Famer Willie Mays said in a statement. "He was a true gentleman who understood the race thing and did all he could. Again, a true gentleman on and off the field - I never heard anybody say a bad word about him, ever."

Musial finished his career with a .331 batting average, and when he retired Musial was the NL's all-time career record holder in games (3,026), runs scored (1,949), hits (3,630), doubles (725) and runs batted in (1,951). He had 475 home runs and drove in 1,951 runs. He walked 1,599 times and was set down by strikes 696 times.

Born in Donora, Pennsylvania, Musial was signed by the Cardinals as a pitcher in 1938 but he converted to an outfielder prior to his MLB debut in 1941. He missed the 1945 season to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. In 1948, Musial came one home run shy of winning the Triple Crown.

"Stan was a favorite in Cooperstown, from his harmonica rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' during Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, to the reverence he commanded among other Hall of Fame members and all fans of the game. More than just a baseball hero, Stan was an American icon and we will very much miss him in Cooperstown," Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum said in a statement.

After retiring, he was named a vice president of the Cardinals and he served in that role for more than 25 years. He was moved to general manager of the team in 1967, the year the Cardinals beat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.

Musial received plenty of accolades off the field. In 2010 he was named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and received the medal from President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony in 2011. The medal is considered the highest civilian honor bestowed by the U.S. government.

Lillian Musial, his wife of more than 70 years, passed away in May 2012.