Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"...remember the stance, remember the swing..."

Those are the words Harry Caray uttered as Stan stood in against Jim Maloney of the Cincinnati Reds on September 29, 1963.  That would be Stan Musial's final day as an active player in Major League Baseball.  That season, with it known to be Stan's last, the Cardinals made a furious dash towards the pennant.  They would win 10 straight games to put themselves 1 game out of first place with 10 games to play and starting a 3 game home series vs the first place Dodgers.  They would be swept, losing 8 of their last 10, to finish 6 games out of first.

Stan played most of his career on newsreels.  The Cardinals won the pennant 5 times during Stan's career, all before KSDK in St. Louis ever went on the air.  What survives of his career in the form of television broadcasts is an abbreviated game vs the Dodgers in 1959 and segments of his final game in St. Louis from 1963.  That is what I will show here.

I've got two clips for this, one short and one long.  The short one comes from MLB Network's tribute to Stan Musial.  In it, it shows cut down clips of Stan Musial's final at-bat vs Jim Maloney.  He would have his last hit and last RBI in that at-bat, driving in Curt Flood.  The clip features Harry Caray calling the game.

This also brought to light, for me, the 'Legend of Stan Musial' documentary from 1990. In it, it features television broadcast clips from that final day.  Highlighted in this clip is a pregame monologue by then CBS broadcaster Dizzy Dean (you can see here).

Dean also shows a typed out box score of Musial's first game during his monologue.

Furthermore, the two other extended clips shown are of Stan Musial stepping in to hit in his first at-bat and getting a single past Pete Rose off of Jim Maloney and his final at-bat, as shown cut down above.  In the documentary, it shows the clip extended with Harry Caray uttering the words in the title of this post.  It also shows the hit by Musial as well as his exit from the field for a pinch-runner.  All the 'game action' clips in the Musial documentary are set inside a television set overlay for some odd reason.

First up is his initial at-bat vs Maloney, resulting in a basehit up the middle for the first hit of the game on the Cardinals' side.

How this game was broadcast is a bit of a mystery.  Having the Dizzy Dean clips at the beginning are what is most perplexing.  In 1963, he was working games for CBS in their Game of the Week broadcasts.  On Saturday, the GOTW on CBS was Minnesota vs Yankees at Yankee Stadium with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese as per various television listings of the day.  CBS did not have a GOTW on Sunday (although NBC did with Senators vs White Sox) instead showing NFL Football.  So Dean would have had the opportunity to get to St. Louis for the game.

A caveat to this is an Altoona station called WBGH (modern day WTAJ) which was a CBS affiliate.  In the listings for Saturday (not Sunday) they had listed the Reds vs Cardinals game being broadcast at noon. I am unclear if this was a 'B' game for the CBS GOTW or if this Altoona affiliate was carrying one of Denora native Stan Musial's final games for the locals.

The interesting part about the screen cap above is that there is a 'glitch' in the kinescope, almost as if it is an overlap.  This could be because of two things.  First being, perhaps Musial didn't hit the first pitch for a single in this at-bat.  The second would be that it is part of a larger kinescope and the reels overlapped at the very moment he stepped into the box.  If that is the case, then it means more of this game does in fact exist.

With Harry Caray providing the play-by-play for this game and the NFL/AFL being on the main national networks during the time of this game, this must be a local broadcast.  Existing in the trading world is the first six innings of the KMOX radio feed for this game, however without it to check, I am unable to tell if the game was simulcast using the same audio or not.  The St. Louis newspapers do not offer online archives of their papers going back this far, thus making it hard to see what stations were carrying this game (although it is more than likely KSD-TV, the eventual KSDK).

The idea that this game exists in it's entirety is highly unlikely.  Musial took his final at-bat in the 6th inning and then exited the game.  The Reds would actually tie the game in the 9th and the Cardinals wouldn't win it until the 14th on the rarest of things, a Dal Maxvill double.  The game took nearly 4 hours and the odds that someone kinescope'd the whole thing (what would be creeping towards 10 reels) and all those reels survived would be miraculous.


There is one thing to consider, however.  The Cardinals Hall of Fame exists because of one man, The Man.  Stan Musial's generosity of his memorabilia helped establish the museum for the ballclub.  The fact that Dizzy Dean's pregame interview and these two at-bats surviving in kinescope form makes me believe that at least large chunks of this broadcast are still out there, possibly in the currently homeless Cardinals HOF.   The other possibility is that Stan The Man, Inc. has this footage in their archives, along with the countless photos the organization has been selling over the years.

It is great to see more footage of Stan's playing days.  As Bob Costas pointed out in his eulogy, Stan's final World Series was the last Fall Classic to not be broadcast nationally on television.  Stan Musial was my grandfather's favorite player.  As a Cardinals fan myself, I've always been in awe of how great Stan was at the plate.  However, the more important lesson about Stan Musial is the one I've learned over the last week hearing from all the people whose lives Stan touched.  For a remarkable baseball player, it is further awe inspiring to see he was a far more remarkable man.


  1. Stan also comes to the plate during Don Cardwell's no-hitter, the last 2 innings of which survive and can easily be found in the trading community.

  2. You are absolutely right. I have completely forgotten about Stan being in the Cardwell no-no.