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Friday, January 25, 2013

St Louis Post-Dispatch: Musial’s Link to the Griffeys

Brock Hanke spotted this article shows a link between Stan Musial and the Griffeys.

The Donora (PA) High School baseball team, from the 1939 high school annual, Dragon ‘39. Stan Musial (top row, fourth from left) was a junior on this team, and his younger brother, Edward (fourth from right, top row) was on the team too. Also on the team was Joseph “Buddy” Griffey (second from left, bottom row), father of Ken Griffey Sr. and grandfather of Ken Griffey Jr.

fra paolo Posted: January 25, 2013 at 05:03 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, hof, mariners, reds, yankees

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   1. esseff Posted: January 25, 2013 at 07:01 PM (#4355165)
If Musial was playing h.s. ball in 1939, he was doing so in violation of rules, since he had signed his first pro contract in the summer of 1937 and played Class D pro ball in 1938. Or, as I posted in the dugout:

I've been studying that photo and the various conflicting stories of people involved for years. I'm about 95 percent convinced now that the African American in the photo is Buddy Griffey, though it's 100 percent certain that Musial and Griffey were athletic acquaintances. I hesitate only because Musial, in the autobiography that Bob Broeg wrote for him in 1964, noted that he had a "Negro" teammate in high school who was then (that is, in 1964) a college professor. By accounts, that doesn't describe Griffey, who is said to have gone to work in the Donora zinc mills. Also, Musial is known to have had an African American teammate named Grant Gray in Donora. So two black athletes, but only one is pictured.

The photo has been dated 1939, but it would be more convenient to the stories of both Musial and Griffey if it was 1938. Musial signed a pro contract at 16 in the summer of 1937, but was allowed to play high school ball in 1938, because he hadn't played yet in the pros or even received any money. But he played Class D ball in the summer of 1938 and would have been ineligible to return to high school ball in 1939. In fact, Musial says in his book that he could only help coach the team. I suppose it's possible that he either wore a team uniform as a coach -- although it certainly seems that the photo presents him as one of the players -- or even possible that he played illegally on the sly, which seems less likely since opposing schools were bound to know him and know that he had turned pro. The photo caption in Musial's book deftly skirts the date question by saying, "In 1937, a Donora teacher, Michael "Ki" Duda . . . brought back high school baseball ... "

As for Griffey, a 1990 story from the Seattle Times about the estrangement of Buddy and Ken Sr. gives Buddy's age as 71, meaning he would have been 19 or 20 in the spring of 1939. Not impossible that, at that time, a 20-year-old would still be in high school or that participation rules would have been less rigid than they are today and would have allowed that student to play sports.

The most interesting thing about the photo, as it appears both in the Post-Dispatch and in George Vecsey's book on Musial, is that a third row of students in the back, wearing sweats or windbreakers but not uniforms, has been airbrushed out. The same photo appears, with all three rows, in Musial's book.


   2. Bruce Chen's Huge Panamanian Robot Posted: January 25, 2013 at 07:03 PM (#4355168)
Anyone who has watched Cardinals broadcasts over the years has heard this story numerous times.

Also, the level of Stan Musial hero worship in St. Louis is frankly kind of creepy.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 25, 2013 at 07:10 PM (#4355173)
Er, didn't really have to specifically identify Griffey by his position in the photo, did they...
   4. bobm Posted: January 25, 2013 at 09:07 PM (#4355215)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2012, (requiring Born: November 21 in Donora, PA :-) ), sorted by greatest Home Runs

                                          
Rk        Player  HR.      From   To   Age
1    Ken Griffey 630 11 21 1989 2010 19-40
2    Stan Musial 475 11 21 1941 1963 20-42




   5. Mefisto Posted: January 25, 2013 at 09:21 PM (#4355217)
Couldn't someone just ask one of the Griffeys if that's the grandfather?
   6. Bob T Posted: January 25, 2013 at 10:31 PM (#4355247)
I wouldn't say the Stan Musial worship in St. Louis is any creepier than any other city's level of worship of a sports figure, especially one who lived a long time. John Wooden is considered a saint by most of Los Angeles and when Vin Scully passes, the whole metro area will likely be rending its garments.
   7. Austin Posted: January 25, 2013 at 11:02 PM (#4355264)
If you're going to worship a sports figure, it's really hard to see how Musial is anything other than a superb choice.
   8. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 25, 2013 at 11:12 PM (#4355266)
#6. You think they're rending their garments now. Wait till they have to listen to their other announcers full time.
   9. Mess with the Meat, you get the Wad! Posted: January 25, 2013 at 11:13 PM (#4355267)
Esseff thanks for that post. The knowledge you guys bring here is amazing and is what makes this site the best out there.
   10. bjhanke Posted: January 25, 2013 at 11:22 PM (#4355269)
esseff - Thanks for the info. I was, of course, just going by the newspaper's word. In any case, no matter the year, I think that the picture is of possible significance. Musial, as most everyone surely knows by now, was an early supported of integration. The point to me of the picture is not so much that Buddy was the F of Sr. and the GF of Jr., but that Stan was already acclimated, in high school, to playing with black guys on his team. Donora , PA - ahead of its time in race relations. The town deserves Musial and the Griffeys as native sons.

Hero worship of Musial in STL is certainly very serious, but I wouldn't say creepy, because Stan enabled it and enjoyed it. He carried photos of himself around, just in case some random fan wanted his autograph. Curt Flood was right in The Way It Is: Musial saw the world in terms of his own good fortune, and he bought into baseball mythology 100%. The thing that makes a hero of him is that he used his fame and clout to further such causes as integration. He also made it clear that he intended to repay the hero-worship by doing everything he could to behave like a hero. Hero worship of, say, Mickey Mantle, strikes me as much more creepy, but realistically, hero worship of players of that caliber is pretty much going to happen no matter what the city, unless the player is a complete jackass. - Brock Hanke
   11. Bruce Chen's Huge Panamanian Robot Posted: January 25, 2013 at 11:56 PM (#4355293)
Hero worship is always creepy and pathetic.
   12. Morty Causa Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:38 AM (#4355324)
A Musial doesn't appeal to us in a way a Mantle does because we're not left with the sense that being the hero that he was cost Stan anything. There's no tragic dimension to his accomplishment. Shakespeare would not have made him a hero. Neither Homer. I hate to put it that way, but Stan is strictly a Disney hero (the old type Disney hero). You don't see any struggle with him like you do with Williams or Mantle. You don't have the sense that Fate is out to get him. No struggle, no suffering. No poetry.

They gave him horse and harness, helmet and mail,
A jeweled shield, an ancient battle-sword,
Such gifts as are the hero's hard reward
And bid him do again what he has done.
These things he stowed beneath his parting sail,
And wept that he could share them with no son.

He died in his own country a kinless king,
A name heavy with deeds, and mourned as one
Will mourn for the frozen year when it is done.
They buried him next the sea on a thrust of land;
Twelve men rode round his barrow all in a ring,
Singing of him what they could understand.


Richard Wilbur's Beowulf.

I'm speaking of course of Musial's public persona. In his personal life he may have had tragedies and calamities that he had to deal with--as we all do. He just doesn't seem to have had a god he wrestled with. There's no mythic narrative waiting for great artistic expression.
   13. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:56 AM (#4355329)
Oh #### off #11.
   14. Benji Posted: January 26, 2013 at 05:56 AM (#4355349)
Somebody called Mike Francessa today to talk about Musial and Mike kept coming back to the "fact" that "The Man" and Ken Griffey JUNIOR were both from Donora, Pennsylvania. He must have said Junior 5 times. Nobody corrected him, which was sad, because I know he would have denied saying it and Mushnick would have half a column written for him.
   15. salvomania Posted: January 26, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4355422)
Somebody called Mike Francessa today to talk about Musial and Mike kept coming back to the "fact" that "The Man" and Ken Griffey JUNIOR were both from Donora, Pennsylvania. He must have said Junior 5 times. Nobody corrected him, which was sad, because I know he would have denied saying it and Mushnick would have half a column written for him.


But Junior was born in Donora. As was senior.

Also, it seems pretty clear the photo was taken in 1938. High school yearbooks are printed early in the year in which they're given out, and they're usually given out in April or May, and baseball team pictures were always from the previous year, that is, the current seniors were pictured as juniors, etc. And the article says the photo is from "circa 1938-1939," which suggests this is the case here.
   16. phredbird Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4355431)
#6. You think they're rending their garments now. Wait till they have to listen to their other announcers full time.


really. if lyons or steiner inherits the job i might have to turn off the sound for the games on tv. maybe they could overspend on jon miller.
   17. Benji Posted: January 26, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4355509)
I thought Ken Griffey Junior was born in Cincinnati. I apologize.
   18. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 26, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4355528)
I thought Ken Griffey Junior was born in Cincinnati. I apologize.

Interesting, I thought it was rather common knowledge (among baseball nuts, anyway) that Musial and Griffey Jr were both born in Donora, PA on November 21st.
   19. Bob T Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4355565)
really. if lyons or steiner inherits the job i might have to turn off the sound for the games on tv. maybe they could overspend on jon miller.


Steiner was moved off TV two seasons ago in favor of Eric Collins. I don't foresee Scully's successor being one person and the Dodgers likely wouldn't promote a current announcer into the job. It would just be too much. I would think the Dodgers would go for a much younger announcer.

The Lakers had their own longtime beloved announcer Chick Hearn for years and they're on their third different TV play-by-play guy this year. One difference is that, except for this year, the Lakers have been very good since Hearn died, while the Dodgers have been ... not particularly good.
   20. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: January 26, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4355598)

Anyone who has watched Cardinals broadcasts over the years has heard this story numerous times.

Also, the level of Stan Musial hero worship in St. Louis is frankly kind of creepy.


And now we know the real reason why Albert Pujols left.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2013 at 07:14 PM (#4355679)
No struggle, no suffering.

Well, he played and lived in St. Louis
   22. bjhanke Posted: January 27, 2013 at 02:12 AM (#4355829)
Heinie - I don't know what you've been listening to, but I've lived in STL and been a baseball fan since 1954, listened to literally hundreds of games on the radio and seen hundreds more on the TV, and have never heard that Stan played High School ball with the father of any Griffey or, indeed, with any black person. This photo in the Post-Dispatch is the very first time I've ever heard or seen it mentioned.

Walt, who roots for the Cubs, has just paid STL a very nice compliment. On behalf of the city, thanks! And may the Cubs win one for you someday soon. It's been way too long, even for a Cardinal fan. - Brock

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