Stan Musial, who died yesterday at 92, wasn't a larger than life character like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, or Mickey Mantle, or a dominant personality like his St. Louis Cardinals teammate Bob Gibson. He was, like Harmon Killebrew, famous simply for being very good at his game. "Very good" is an understatement; he was one of the best of his era, which extended from eight years before I was born until my senior year of high school. A friend of mine said losing him was "a total crusher." There's "nobody left from those golden baseball days of the 40s and 50s but Ralph Kiner." My friend says he now feels "like some kind've World War I vet wearing his medals and ribbons telling some group of semi interested kids about the Battle of the Somme...life in the trenches and such."
Earl Weaver, who also died yesterday, at 82, never played in the majors. He came to fame as manager of the Baltimore Orioles, serving as their skipper for seventeen years, during which the Birds won four American League pennants and one World Series (they lost a series to my Mets, before they were my Mets, in 1969). Unlike me, he wasn't fond of "little ball"; the business of advancing runners with bunts, sacrifice flies, and stolen bases. He loved the long ball, especially with two or more runners on base, as well as pitching and defense. My favorite Weaver quote is his advice to a player about to go to bat in a close game with one out and a runner on first: "If you even think you might hit into a double play, have the good sense to strike out."
Stan Musial photo: npr.org
Earl Weaver photo: usatoday.com