As one of the most respected and beloved players in baseball history, Hall of Famer Stan Musial made a major impact not only on the Cardinals organization, but on the game as a whole.
So it's no surprise that remembrances poured in from around the game on Saturday night, after the St. Louis legend died at age 92, surrounded by family at his home in Ladue, Mo. "Stan the Man" played his entire 22-year career for the Cardinals, making a record 24 straight All-Star Games and holding 17 Major League records upon his retirement after the 1963 season.
"We have lost the most beloved member of the Cardinals family," Cardinals chairman William DeWitt Jr. said. "Stan Musial was the greatest player in Cardinals history and one of the best players in the history of baseball.
"The entire Cardinals organization extends its sincere condolences to Stan's family, including his children, Richard, Gerry, Janet and Jean, as well as his 11 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. We join fans everywhere in mourning the loss of our dear friend and reflect on how fortunate we all are to have known 'Stan the Man.'"
Also once deemed, "baseball's perfect warrior, baseball's perfect knight," by former Commissioner Ford C. Frick, Musial was known for his ability as well as his character and grace. He racked up a .331 batting average, 3,630 hits, 475 home runs, three Most Valuable Player Awards and three World Series championships, but he was also lauded for how he conducted himself, including an astounding zero ejections in more than 3,000 career games.
"Major League Baseball has lost one of its true legends in Stan Musial, a Hall of Famer in every sense and a man who led a great American life," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "He was the heart and soul of the historic St. Louis Cardinals franchise for generations, and he served his country during World War II. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, Stan's life embodies baseball's unparalleled history and why this game is the national pastime.
"As remarkable as 'Stan the Man' was on the field, he was a true gentleman in life. All of Major League Baseball mourns his passing, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, admirers and all the fans of the Cardinals."
Musial has been enshrined at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown since receiving 93.2 percent of the vote in 1969, his first year of eligibility. He was the longest tenured living Hall of Famer.
"Stan was a favorite in Cooperstown, from his harmonica rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' during Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies, to the reverence he commanded among other Hall of Fame members and all fans of the game," Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said. "More than just a baseball hero, Stan was an American icon, and we will very much miss him in Cooperstown."
Added Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson: "Stan will be remembered in baseball annals as one of the pillars of our game, with his many successes on the diamond, the passion with which he played, and his engaging personality. He utilized his trademark corkscrew swing to perfection, torching National League pitching to the tune of seven batting titles and gaudy career numbers. He played so well when the Cardinals visited Ebbets Field, Brooklyn fans dubbed him 'The Man', and he was, in every sense. The mold broke with Stan. There will never be another like him."
Musial's No. 6 was the first retired number in Cardinals history, and he remains the franchise leader in 11 offensive categories. He has been immortalized with a huge bronze statue outside Busch Stadium since 1968.
"The president was saddened to learn of the passing of baseball legend Stan Musial," White House spokesperson Joanna Rosholm said in a statement. "In 2010, the president was honored to award Stan "the Man" Musial the nation's highest civilian honor -- the Medal of Freedom -- for his unrivaled passion for the sport and the example he set for all young Americans. The president's thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones."
"Stan Musial always has been and always will be Cardinal baseball," fellow Cardinals legend and Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith tweeted. "A wonderful, kind humanitarian and a blessed life. RIP."
Smith wasn't the only member of Cooperstown to share his thoughts on Musial.
"It is a very sad day for me," said Giants great Willie Mays, a contemporary of Musial's. "I knew Stan very well. He used to take care of me at All-Star games, 24 of them. He was a true gentleman who understood the race thing and did all he could. Again, a true gentleman on and off the field -- I never heard anybody say a bad word about him, ever."
Six-time All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling, who appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year, tweeted: "Thank you Mr Musial, your life was a clinic in respect, integrity and honor. The game is better for having you. RIP."
Current players chimed in, too, well aware of Musial's hallowed place in baseball history.
"Sad to hear about Stan the Man, it's an honor to wear the same uniform," Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday tweeted. "Prayers to the Musial family."
The Angels' Albert Pujols also took to Twitter to express his condolences. Pujols developed a special relationship with Musial during his 11 stellar seasons with the Cardinals.
"My prayers are with the Musial family tonight," Pujols said. "I will cherish my friendship with Stan for a long as I live. Rest in Peace."
Added Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander on Twitter: "We lost a baseball legend today, but his legacy will live on...#StanTheMan."
Musial made an impact even on the game's younger players, as Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg revealed in a tweet referencing the serious right elbow injury he suffered in 2010.
"I'll never forget the kindness Stan Musial showed me when I got hurt," Strasburg said. "He was truly a legend of the game! Here's to Stan 'The Man' Musial. May your legend live on!"