Monday, January 21, 2013

The Man who Invented the Fist-Bump

All of these bits of trivia regarding Stan the Man Musial are from a remarkable article from 2010, 90 Things to Love about the Man, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

  • Musial may have invented - or at least first popularized - the so-called "fist bump." Stan came up with it as an option to shaking hands. Musial was convinced that he was catching too many colds by picking up germs while shaking thousands of hands each year, so he adopted the fist bump as a friendly alternative.

  • No major-league player logged more seasons or had more hits with one franchise than Musial.

  • The Man was country before country was cool; he once put on some bib overalls to blow the harmonica on the television show "Hee Haw." In 1994 Musual recorded 18 songs that were included in a harmonica-playing instruction booklet.

  • Musial hit five home runs in a doubleheader against the New York Giants on May 2, 1954. Seated in the crowd that day was young St. Louisan Nate Colbert, who later became the only other MLB player to hit five homers in a doubleheader.

  • The Man once made a cameo acting appearance on the hit 1960s show, "That Girl," starring Marlo Thomas.  [MY NOTE:  I remember this.  The producers has built a replica set of Stan's restaurant Stan Musial & Biggie's in Hollywood, and when Stan arrived on set, he said, "I felt like I was back home!"]

  •  In 1999, Musial was given the Cavalier Cross of the Order of Merit, the highest honor that the Polish government bestows upon a civilian. Musial is immensely proud of that honor. Accordingly, Musial is worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that a civilian can receive from the President of the United States.

  • Musial was among the primary reasons why John Paul II visited St. Louis in January 1999.

  • In 1946, when he was making a Cardinals salary of $13,500, Musial turned down a $50,000 bonus and a five-year contract worth $125,000 to jump to the Mexican League.

  • Musial played in 2,907 regular-season and 23 postseason major-league games and was never ejected from a game by an umpire.

  • Musial worried about setting the right example for kids. Like many star players of his era, Musial signed an endorsement deal with a cigarette company. He later reconsidered and ended the lucrative arrangement because he felt it sent the wrong message to kids.

  • Willie Mays has praised Musial through the years for extending his friendship to African American players during those tense days. Here's a story from Mays, who told it to Kansas City Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews: "All-Star Game, late Fifties. There were seven black players on the National League All-Stars. We were in the back of the clubhouse playing poker and none of the white guys had come back or said, ‘Hi,' or ‘How's it going?' or ‘How you guys doing?' or ‘Welcome to the All-Star Game.' Nothing. We're playing poker and all of a sudden I look up and here comes Stan toward us. He grabs a chair, sits down and starts playing poker with us. And Stan didn't know how to play poker! But that was his way of welcoming us, of feeling a part of it, making us feel a part of it. I never forgot that. We never forgot that."

  • Joe Garagiola: "He could have hit .300 with a fountain pen."

  • In the late 1960s, Musial and other MLB greats visited U.S. troops in Vietnam. One wounded soldier looked up at Musial from his hospital bed and said, "You're the best." Musial's response: "No, you are."

  • Bob Costas: "All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being."  [We like to sound theological on this blog, so we call that "sanctity".]

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