Two legendary baseball hall of famers died within hours of one another on Saturday, which is one of the few things they had in common. Everyone *loved* Stan Musial and nobody particularly liked Earl Weaver but they were both brilliant baseball men.
St. Louis Cardinals icon Stan Musial was perhaps the greatest hitter of his day but was overshadowed by more colorful and surly players such as Ted Williams. Stan the Man was just too darn nice to be colorful BUT he was one of the few white players who went out of their way to be kind to the wave of African-American players who integrated the sport during the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Longtime Baltimore Oriole Manager Earl Weaver was a bantam rooster of a man: short, cocky, loud and argumentative. Weaver practiced the tenets of “moneyball” when Billy Beane was in grade school. He was thrown out of 97 games and was a notoriously heavy smoker who nicknamed one of his pitchers “Full Pack” because the dude drove him crazy by not throwing strikes, which, in turn, made him smoke like a fiendish chimney. Btw, the player’s name was Don Stanhouse whose non-Earl Weaver nickname was Stan the Man Unusual, which was-you guessed it-a play on Stan the Man Musial and a good one at that.
The other thing the two have in common is that Joe Posnanski wrote great tributes to Stan the Man *and*the Earl of Baltimore after they died. Joe took a lot of flak for his recent biography of Joe Paterno BUT he’s the best sports prose stylist this side of Roger Angell or the late Red Smith.