TIME Athletes

LIFE With the Man: Rare and Classic Photos of Stan Musial

With St. Louis back in the World Series, LIFE.com presents a gallery of photos -- many of which never ran in LIFE -- of the greatest Cardinal of them all, on and off the field.

Stan “The Man” Musial, who died earlier this year at the age of 92, was a three-time MVP and a three-time World Series champ for the St. Louis Cardinals. He won the National League batting title seven times. He missed winning the Triple Crown by one home run in a year when Statistician Bill James ranked Musial the 10th greatest all-around baseball player in major league history, and the second best left fielder of all time, just behind Ted Williams.

In 1948, when he missed the Triple Crown by one home run, he batted .376 with 39 homers, 131 RBIs, 46 doubles, 18 triples — and 34 strikeouts. In fact, Musial finished his two-plus-decade career with only 696 strikeouts; some famous sluggers, past and present (Reggie Jackson, Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Sammy Sosa) have whiffed that many times in just four or five seasons.

[Read an appreciation of Stan Musial, the man and the player, on Keeping Score.]

Beyond the phenomenal statistics, the National League and major league records he still holds and the respect he commanded from teammates and foes, alike, Musial was also one of the most beloved figures in the history of the game. People everywhere liked Stan Musial.

Cardinal teammate (and notoriously intimidating competitor) Bob Gibson once said, “Stan Musial is the nicest man I ever met in baseball. And, to be honest,” he admitted, “I can’t relate to that.”

Musial was a great player, and a good man, and he will be sorely, sorely missed.

Here, with the Cardinals once again in the World Series, LIFE.com presents a gallery of photos — many of which never ran in LIFE — of the Man on and off the field. We will not see his like again.

— Ben Cosgrove is the Editor of LIFE.com

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