Sunday, January 20, 2013

Earl and Stan

Yesterday was a very sad day for MLB fans as Hall-of-Famers Earl Weaver and Stan Musial both passed away.  I realize that this has been covered fairly comprehensively by bloggers better than I already, but I wanted to make sure I also did something to honor two of baseball's greatest men and the impact they had on the game we all love.

2003 Topps Retired Signature Autographs #EW - Earl Weaver G - Courtesy of

Weaver was a manager who knew how to win, as his 1480-1060 record, including one World Series title in four appearances, would attest.  But just as importantly, he became a fan favorite thanks to his fiery temper, something you just don't see enough nowadays, especially with Bobby Cox no longer part of the game.  If you were watching the Orioles from the 60s into the 80s, this was a very common sight:
I guess 94 career ejections are enough to become part of your legacy.  But old Earl probably knew what he was doing--he'll also be remembered well as one of the game's greatest strategists.  Apparently he was the person who led the charge in terms of measuring pitching velocity with radar guns.  Just as significantly, he was one of the earlier managers to realize the usefulness of statistics in optimizing matchups, something some teams STILL struggle with today.

Weaver was a pioneer, a spitfire, a proven winner, and ultimately, a fan favorite and legend.  Major League Baseball and Orioles fans will miss him dearly.

While I don't have any significant items of Weaver in my collection, I do want to make sure people are aware of a pretty good book in which he features:  Jim Palmer's Together We Were Eleven Foot Nine.
It's definitely worth a read, so make sure to check it out if you get a chance.

Stan Musial, of course, is the other legend we lost yesterday, though his passing wasn't quite so unexpected as he'd been dealing with health issues for quite a while.  It was no less tragic for baseball fans, however, because he was possibly baseball's best living player, with Willie Mays as part of that conversation.  But more than Mays, and perhaps more than almost any other player, Stan was extremely well-liked by his peers and fans alike.  A supremely talented by humble and friendly player, Musial was notably never ejected from a single game in his career.
Much has been said about his conversion from pitcher to slugger, his military service and the seasons he missed in the prime of his career, and his transcendent statistics.  For some reason, he's still managed to remain fairly low-profile despite a legendary career and his welcoming personality.  If nothing else, hopefully his death brings his name back into consideration as one of the greatest the game has seen.

In my collecting experience, I've been a bit more fortunate when it came to "The Man," as you can see above.  I grabbed the Topps 3000th hit card at a show some time last year, then added the autograph, a coup as far as I was concerned, for just $30 in late October.  At an upcoming show I may do my collection a favor and see if I can score any more vintage gems of a guy who's criminally underrepresented in my PC, not to mention the discussions of baseball's greatest.
Like Weaver, I can also recommend a pretty good book about Musial:  George Vecsey's Stan Musial:  An American Life.  It's an outstanding biography that does a great job of documenting the amazing life of an unassuming kid from Donora, PA.

Those two greats will be missed by many, and that certainly includes myself.  Given that fans suffered those two significant losses in the same day, I hope the baseball gods give us a long reprieve so we can remember to enjoy those who are still with us.  RIP Earl and Stan.


  1. That is a sweet Musial autograph. They had become rough in the last few years.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, after reading about his declining health I was surprised he signed as much as he did, but that's the kind of guy he was, I guess.