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Stan Musial: An American Life

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  1,004 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
Veteran sports journalist George Vecsey finally gives this twenty-time All-Star and St. Louis Cardinals icon the biographical treatment he deserves. Stan Musial is the definitive portrait of one of the game’s best-loved but most unappreciated legends—told through the remembrances of those who played beside, worked with, and covered “Stan the Man” over
ebook, 416 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by ESPN (first published January 1st 2011)
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Sue Hertling
Feb 11, 2015 Sue Hertling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's so uplifting to read about an incredible athlete and successful businessman who remained grounded in humility and decency. This is the life story of a baseball star who was, above all else, a good man.
May 04, 2011 Elin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book via a giveaway from Goodreads and was quite thrilled when I got my confirmation email. As a western Pennsylvania native, Musial, former Card or not, was always a favorite of mine. He played well before I was born, but as a student of U.S. history and baseball fan (go Buccos!), I knew what I consider to be a decent deal about Musial. The more I learned about him, the more I grew to love him not only for what he did on the field, but more for what he did off of it. Anyone can ...more
Arthur Kyriazis
Aug 02, 2013 Arthur Kyriazis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this book was just awful.

i recognize Vecsey is some kind of an icon in both ny and american sports circles, but this book is not even remotely a workmanlike job of setting forth the who what when where why of Stan Musials life and career. Vecsey gets facts wrong, he doesn't tell his story in a straight historical narrative, and much of what he does say seems to be rehashed from memory rather than researched from the archives of Cooperstown or from interviews with Stan himself, or with players wh
Apr 05, 2012 Socraticgadfly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Maybe Stan Musial hasn't made more baseball fans' "cut" because he hasn't had better or deeper biographies. George Vecsey tries, but doesn't quite get all the way there. It seems like he just doesn't have as much "material" as a DiMaggio or Mantle book. I don't know whether that's from Stan playing in St. Louis, or something else, as Jane Leavey showed with Mantle and his background.

Heroes don't have to have feet of clay, but many do.

That said, Vecsey does show us that, at least in the case of J
Abraham Allende
Aug 10, 2013 Abraham Allende rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any fan of baseball and the history of the game
Shelves: biography, sports
I picked up this book shortly after Stan Musial died in January of 2013. But it remained on my shelf as a to-read until I had a few days off his Summer.
Musial was revered in Western Pennsylvania, where I spent my adolescent years. This book sheds more light on the man than what I knew as a youngster, but it still left me somewhat uninspired. For one thing, the author, George Vecsey, inserts himself into the narrative far more than necessary, as if his admiration for Musial somehow justifies his
Jul 17, 2011 Doug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book better. I'm not sure if it's Vecsey's writing style, a natural consequence of an almost oral history approach, if it's a pre-publication draft that hopefully got significant editing before the final release, or some combination of the three. But it was tougher to stay engaged in this book than I thought it would have been.

I loved reading about Stan Musial when I was a kid and his hard work ethic and humility shown through vividly here. His early life in Donora n
Oct 23, 2011 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is a struggle for me to give this book so few stars, only because it seems a reflection on the subject. Just to set the record straight, Stan Musial gets 5 stars but this biography, honestly, doesn't. I really wanted to like it more than I, eventually, did. There were good stories contained within, snippets that I repeated over lunch conversations, and I think I know more about Stan's life and career than I did before. But that's not enough.

You've all heard books called "page-turners" or hear
Nov 05, 2011 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read many sports book. I also don't read a lot of biographies. This book was both. Stan Musial is a legend in baseball and an icon for Cardinals fans. I grew up loving baseball and rooting for the Cardinals so The Man is one of those heros who live in my memory even though I never saw him play.

This is a well done biography. The book highlights all the great things about Stan that are a part of his legend but also brings to our attention some of his defects (minor ones!) that show his hum
John Kennedy
This is a disappointing book. It's a series of vignettes that never really form a clear picture of Stan the Man, who remains an enigma. Vecsey didn't interview Musial and it shows. Most of the content has been reported elsewhere and the book is dominated by secondary sources. I wanted more details about Musial, but I came away with little more than he is a nice guy who isn't that quotable. The anecdotes provided aren't that interesting. The book gives a more interesting portrait of Jackie Robins ...more
Nov 13, 2016 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid bio of the most underrated player in MLB history. He and Griffey are 2 of the best 7 outfielder in history and they're both from the small steel town of Donora in Western PA. What are the odds?
Mar 08, 2017 Jman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great, well-rounded book
Phillip Millman
A fan boy's book that lacks depth and is more about the Author's feelings toward Musial than the ballplayer himself. Well written but I wanted more.
Randy Tate
Jan 11, 2017 Randy Tate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
This is a nice overview of the life of Stan. As a lifelong Cardinal fan, I heard the stories from my dad who was Musial's age and grew up idolizing him. Attending games throughout my life, Musial was baseball royalty in a baseball-crazy town. The author does an admirable job of compiling stories, interviewing diverse people from throughout Musial's life. I really enjoyed the book. As a Cardinal fan, I might be a little biased. Nice stories of his post-retirement years that I was unaware of. If y ...more
Erik Malvick
Here we have a book that is a biography of the great yet somewhat underappreciated Stan Musial. This book lets you know that quite a bit and right from the beginning. I don't disagree with that assessment as a younger baseball fan that is aware of Stan Musial, the Hall of Famer for the Cardinals, but not necessarily of where he stood among baseballs greats. On completion of this book, I have a much greater appreciation for Stan `The Man' than I did before I read it.

So, the problem with this book
Jun 11, 2013 Jsavett1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a splendid biography of Musial, easily, along with Frank Robinson, one of the most unjustly under appreciated players in baseball history.

The subtitle of Vecsey's book speaks accurately to the perspective here--Musial's life stands as a paradigm of the virtue, modesty, and hard work we hope to believe about our nation.

It's difficult not to wax romantic about Musial and the golden age of baseball; indeed, Vecsey makes no attempt to hide his love for Musial. But this subjectivity does not
Cheryl Gatling
Stan Musial grew up in Donora, Pennsylvania, a mill town in the mountains near Pittsburgh. The neighborhood boys played on a little flat patch on a hillside. It was bare, since smoke from the steel mill had killed all the plants, and a hit to right field caused the ball to fall into a ravine. Play would stop for five minutes while someone climbed down to retrieve it. Musial learned to hit to left field.

That was one of my favorite scenes from a biography that is an accumulation of scenes. The tit
Richard Bray
Early in STAN MUSIAL: AN AMERICAN LIFE, George Vecsey struggles to explain why Musial, one of the elite ballplayers of his era right alongside Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, was left off the fan voting for the Major League Baseball / American Express All-Century team in 2000. He points to the fact that DiMaggio played in New York and Williams played in Boston, a pair of East Coast media outlets that certainly played up their players’ respective legacies far more than St. Louis ever could Musial’ ...more
Paul Frandano
This is first and foremost a baseball book, but also a baseball memoir, along the lines of Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer, by a great sportswriter who's been on and off the baseball beat for half a century. When we read a book like this, with its thumbnail sketches of the times in which Stan Musial played, replete with period details and personal anecdotes that insert Vecsey into the picture, we're tempted to reach for big conclusions about "sport reflecting its times" and the "sociology of bas ...more
George King
I won a copy of George Vecsey’s Stan Musial, An American Life, as a giveaway on Goodreads. My reasons for wanting to read this book were simple: I was born in Springfield, Missouri, where Musial played his first minor league ball in 1941. I also played baseball as a young man, and I’ve been a fan of many players and teams over the years, including Stan Musial and the St. Louis Cardinals.

I have to report that Vecsey’s book was somewhat disappointing for me. I expected more about Musial’s hitting
Andy Miller
I looked forward to reading this biography of one of the greatest hitters of all time whose hitting statistics were comparable to Ted Williams and Joe Dimaggio but for some reason never received quite the acclaim. While the author, the sports columnist George Vecsey, does a good job discussing the reasons for Musial not receiving his due acclaim; he played in St Louis not New York and was a nice guy married to the same woman for his whole adult life as opposed to the temperamental and complex pe ...more
Joe K
This biography was informative, but I can say with confidence that I was not the intended audience. I like Stan Musial, but I'm also under the age of 50, which means that I am part of the problem with why Stan Musial is not as respected. There were an amazing amount of disses and complaints about ballplayers after Stan's day (especially those who make millions of dollars), along with complaints about the current generation of fans, who have apparently disrespected Stan Musial to an amazing degre ...more
May 21, 2011 CD rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, sport
Stan Musial is the only Big League (MLB for those of you under 40) ball player that I sat with at a dinner table. It was brief, but for an eleven year old, it was unforgettable! The place was "Stan and Biggies" the restaurant in St. Louis that Musial had an interest in and the evening in question he was there a bit earlier for a meeting. Stan Musial circled through the dining areas and stopped and chatted with the various patrons. I was the only kid in the place so he sat for a moment at our tab ...more
Dec 21, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written for those with reverence for the lore of old-time baseball and for people from St. Louis. Others need not apply. Stan the Man was probably my father’s favorite ballplayer. The first time I saw Musial play was on the day he played his last game. I vaguely recall viewing the event from a 1963 black-and-white television set. So Musial was before my time, just barely. I went on to become a Cardinal fan, listening to games on my transistor radio, following the play-by-play with ...more
Elizabeth S
This is a good book. There is much that is inspiring, interesting, and impressive about Stan Musial. Although I consider myself a pretty good baseball fan, I knew nothing about Stan the Man. Obviously I'm not a Cardinal fan. (I was a Twins fan growing up, and I'm a Cubs fan now.) And I must be generationally off by enough to not know him as an opponent. But I enjoyed reading and learning about his life. Vecsey obviously did some real digging and found tons of stories, memories, and details to he ...more
M Christopher
Jan 20, 2012 M Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
Like "Gregory Wilson's" "The Stained Glass Jungle," (see previous review), Vecsey's biography of "Stan the Man" has a style that belongs to a previous generation -- of sportwriters, this time, rather that of the purveyors of pulp melodrama. But Vecsey's offering is nearly wholly enjoyable -- his breezy, "just folks," heavily anecdotal coverage of one of the greatest ballplayers of all time is an admirable match for its subject. Vecsey makes only the most delicate attempts to lift the mask of bon ...more
In this day when a basketball star (who shall remain nameless) can complain to the media that his old team hasn't honored him with a statue, it's refreshing to think that there used to be ballplayers who didn't care who got the credit - they just cared about winning. George Vescey contends that Stan Musial is one of those humble heroes who quietly went about his job while racking up some of the best stats in baseball. Not only that, but he was a genuinely nice and decent guy - churchgoing, faith ...more
Sep 23, 2013 Edwin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid overview of Musial's life (and a story definitely worth telling), but this isn't the definitive biography it could have been. It is painfully obvious that Vecsey never had any personal access to Musial, so the only time we get Musial's personal perspective is by cobbling together previous public interviews, and most of the narrative is driven by second-hand recollections--what does the guy who lived down the street remember, or the bat boy, or this former teammate, or that former opponen ...more
Jun 27, 2011 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sympathetic synopsis of one baseball's most talented - and forgotten - heroes. Playing for the Cardinals, even with the influence of KMOX blasting in almost all of the nation (remember those days of the strong AM signal), Musial did not get the spotlight of his contemporaries. This biography highlights his career and personal life, and intertwines Musial's humble upbringing in Donora, PA with the life that baseball gave him.

I especially enjoyed the portrayal of Donora, a town like many
Aug 03, 2011 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball, biography
A disappointing book. Vescey wants to save Musial from the scrapheap of obscurity, from the embarrassment of not having been voted one of the greatest ballplayers of the 20th century by fans. To be sure, this is a lovingly written piece. But Vescey cannot leave himself out of the book. This book, at times, seems to be about George Vescey, how he interviewed so many people, including some very prominent people, but how he couldn't get past the carefully constructed wall Musial built around his ch ...more
Jun 14, 2011 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was just getting into baseball as Stan Musial's career was winding down.
I was also a Mickey Mantle and Yankees fan, and, of course, back then it was
much more difficult to get information, especially living in Oklahoma, so my knowledge
of Stan Musial came mostly from Hall of Fame discussions, baseball cards and reading
books about baseball history.
I really knew very little about "Stan the Man" until I read this book.
Mr. Vecsey paints a wonderful picture of Musial. He highlights what a
great bas
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