Stan Musial: 1920-2013

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Baseball’s perfect knight is no longer with us.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals great Stan Musial died in St. Louis at 5:45 p.m. local time on Saturday evening. Goold says Musial was “surrounded by family” when he passed.

“Stan the Man” — a picture of poise, grace and consistency — tallied 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 on the road over the course of his 22-year major league career. The lifetime Cardinal won three World Series titles, three National League MVPs and was a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

He has a statue outside Busch Stadium and his No. 6 was retired by the Cardinals in 1963 — the same year that he stopped playing. He was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest honor that the United States government can bestow on a civilian — at the White House in February 2011.

Musial was 92.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.