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Book Review: Stan The Man

Posted on January 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
As I've often noted, as a blogger I'm often gifted with baseball books by the publishers.  It's a wonderful perk of the gig and I really enjoy reading all of these tomes.  

The problem is, they tend to pile up after I've read them if I don't get them reviewed quickly enough.  Right now there are 6-8 books just waiting for me to write a little bit about them.  However, given recent events, it seemed the right time to dig one of those out and talk about it a bit.  That book would be Stan The Man: The Life and Times of Stan Musial by Wayne Stewart.

Most people know that there was a recent bio of Musial written by George Vecsey, but Stewart's writeup of The Man seems to have been a bit overlooked, though it came out in 2010.  Stewart has an interesting focus for his biography, since he also hails from Donora, Pennsylvania.  While Stewart doesn't make a big deal of this in the book--I'm honestly not sure I knew about it until I read the book flap or the "about the author" in the back--you can easily see that the focus is about how Donora shaped Stan and how people there remembered him.

I don't think that Stewart got a chance to talk to Stan or anyone in the immediate family.  Musial's comments and quotes seem to come from newspaper accounts or other media outlets as well as some of the stories and quotes from players that played with him.  However, while Stewart did interview some of the players that were Musial's contemporaries, what sets this biography apart is the Donora connection.

Stewart talks to a lot of people who knew Stan and the Musial family throughout most of his life, even after he took off for St. Louis.  Beyond recording the events of Stan's career, which he does very thoroughly, he talks about Stan's visits to Donora and the esteem he was held back in his hometown.

Of course, as the Bible says, a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown.  Stewart records indirect grumbling from townspeople who thought Musial could have done more back in his old stomping grounds.  Granted, these complaints are relayed through people that basically can't believe that others are griping, meaning they are a small minority, but it just goes to show that even The Man couldn't please everyone all the time.

There's a section of pictures in the middle of the book, as is pretty standard in a book like this.  Most are well-known, but there are some from Stan's high school days on the basketball team and some from the locals of Musial around town.  There are some wonderful pictures of Stan and his wife Lil in there as well.

Right now, the book is out of stock at Amazon, though the Kindle version is available.  It's well worth picking up and getting a bit of a different look at the St. Louis icon.  If you pair this with the Vecsey book you'll get a very complete picture of the player and the person we called Stan The Man.

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