The tiny town that produced 2 all-time greats

Donora, Pa., the birthplace of Musial and Griffey, who also share a birthday

November 21st, 2021

Somebody get Mulder and Scully on the phone and have them check out Donora, Pennsylvania. The small town with a current population of fewer than 5,000 residents has somehow produced two of the greatest Major Leaguers in baseball history: Stan Musial and Ken Griffey Jr.

Even stranger, the two were born on the same day: Musial entering the world on Nov. 21, 1920, and Junior being born exactly 49 years later in 1969. Working under the assumption that some unknown supernatural source provides the city of Donora with a Hall of Fame ballplayer every 49 years, scouts should start scouring the youth leagues and elementary schools: The next great Donoran star is somewhere out there.

Musial and Griffey's outstanding careers only aid the theory that something was in the water. Stan the Man was a three-time MVP, seven-time batting champion and 24-time All-Star. Even after missing the 1945 season because of military service, he returned to hit an absurd .365/.434/.587 while leading the National League in doubles with 50 and triples with 20.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Musial's career isn't his .331 batting average or 475 home runs, but how universally beloved he was. Even Ty Cobb, perhaps the surliest man to ever step on a ballfield, said this about the outfielder:

"No man has ever been a perfect ballplayer. Stan Musial, however, is the closest to being perfect in the game today.... He plays as hard when his club is away out in front of a game as he does when they're just a run or two behind."

In 2011, he was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. To put that in baseball terms, it's like winning the MVP of personhood.

But that wasn't enough for Musial. He was also a killer harmonica player. Take that, Blues Traveler.

Musial never forgot his hometown, either. When the Cardinals played the Pirates, Stan Musial would return home to visit his mother, bringing dozens of signed baseballs along with him every time.

"I have a theory that per capita, there are more Stan Musial autographed baseballs in Donora than anywhere else in the world," Brian Charlton, the curator of the Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum, said.

And then there's Ken Griffey Jr. The most popular player for an entire generation of fans, Griffey was also a pretty skilled musician. Well, maybe "skilled" isn't quite the right word, but hey, he's at least going for it:

Griffey more than made up for the lack of on-mic flow with his on-field play. Despite a number of injuries limiting his time on the field, Junior finished with 630 home runs, the seventh most all-time. Along the way, he won an MVP, lead the American League in home runs four times, hit 40 or more home runs in seven different years, went to 13 All-Star Games and won 10 Gold Gloves.

But those are just, like, numbers on a page, ya know? A spreadsheet can't touch your heart the way highlights can:

And then there was the time Griffey went back-to-back with his Dad. Rarely outside of the "Back to the Future" films do you get father-son moments like this:

Perhaps even more outrageous? While Donora is the birthplace of two Hall of Famers, Philadelphia has just one in Roy Campanella. Same goes with Pittsburgh (Bobby Wallace). So, if you're an expecting parent in Pennsylvania and you want your kid to grow up to be a baseball superstar? Maybe it's time to move to Donora.