The St. Louis Cardinals have had many great players, but with the possible exception of Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial ranks as the best position player in Cardinals' history.
Musial had an illustrious career that included many great moments.
He was an integral part of the Cardinals team that won the World Series in 1942, beating the favored New York Yankees. Also integral in 1944, when the Cards beat the rival St. Louis Browns, and again in 1946, when the Cardinals beat the Boston Red Sox.
But perhaps the most memorable personal day in Musial's career occurred on May 2, 1954 in St. Louis against the New York Giants.
The Cardinals and Giants played a regularly scheduled doubleheader. In those days, the greedy owners had not yet realized that baseball fans would gripe but most would be willing to pay two admissions for a day-night twin bill.
Left-hander Johnny Antonelli, acquired from the Milwaukee Braves in the off-season, started for the Giants against grizzled veteran right-hander Gerry Staley.
Stan Musial, batting third and playing right field, worked Antonelli for a walk in the first inning. Then the fun began.
"Stan the Man" hit a bases empty home run in third. He hit another round-tripper, this time with a runner on, in the fifth. Both came against Antonelli.
Right-hander Jim Hearn took over for Antonelli.
Musial singled off Hearn in the sixth, and then, with the score tied 6-6 in the eighth inning, he hit a three-run shot off Hearn to clinch an eventual 10-6 Cardinals victory.
In the nightcap, Don Liddle, another left-hander the Giants had acquired from the Braves, was the starter.
Musial, as he had done in the opener, walked in the first inning. He hit a deep drive to center field in third, which was a mistake, because the great Willie Mays easily caught up with the ball to retire Musial for the first time all day.
Liddle was gone by the fifth inning. Facing knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm with Red Schoendienst on base, Musial hit his fourth home run of the doubleheader.
In the seventh inning, with Wilhelm still on the mound, Musial hit a record-setting fifth home run over the pavilion roof in right field. He popped up to first in the ninth.
Musial had eight official at bats in the two games. He hit five home runs and one single for 21 total bases, walked twice, and batted in nine runs.
He set a record with five home runs in a doubleheader and tied a record with five combined home runs in consecutive games.
If one were to ask Musial, he would rate the Cardinals' World Championship seasons ahead of any individual accomplishments, which is only right. Still, hitting five home runs in a doubleheader was one of the all-time great feats in baseball history.
Drebinger, John. " St. Louis Slugger Paces 10-6 Victory." New York Times. May 3, 1954 , p.28.
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