Stan Musial: An American Life

George Vecsey. Ballantine/ESPN, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-345-51706-7
Great bat, no personality is the conclusion in this genial biography of the St. Louis Cardinals slugger. New York Times sports columnist Vecsey (Baseball: A History of America’s Favorite Game) insists that the Hall of Famer’s 475 homers and .331 lifetime batting average put him in the company of hallowed contemporaries Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. Alas, where the aloof Yankee Clipper and the cantankerous Splendid Splinter shared a prickly charisma, Stan the Man—even a stolid nickname—was "the boring one." Vecsey chronicles Musial’s enormously successful if oddly uneventful career, his nonracist (though not outspokenly so) behavior as baseball was desegregating, his kind and self-effacing manner, his happy marriage, his cordial relations with umpires, even his lawn-mowing. A coiled, crouching, butt-waggling batting stance is his only eccentricity. A sportswriter to the bone, Vecsey clothes his subject’s colorlessness in stirring metaphor and world-historical allusion: if DiMaggio and Williams were "the stormy Himalayas," Musial was "the weathered Appalachians," he rhapsodizes, and caps his account of the Cards’ 1946 World Series victory with the news that "less than two hours later, ten Nazi leaders were hanged." Unfortunately, no amount of manful writing and extraneous anecdote can redeem the basic dullness of Musial’s story. Photos. (May 10)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-93440-6
Open Ebook - 286 pages - 978-0-345-52644-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-93443-7
Paperback - 397 pages - 978-0-345-51707-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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