September 23, 1941: Stan Musial hits his first career home run

On September 23, 1941, Stan Musial hit the first home run of his Hall of Fame career.

Though it was just his eighth game since the Cardinals called him up from their minor-league affiliate in Rochester, Musial already had established himself as a dangerous hitter. In his big-league debut, Musial tallied two hits, including a two-run double that proved key to a 3-2 win over the Braves. Two days later, he went 3-for-4 with a walk in his first game against the rival Cubs. On September 21, Musial went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles in the first game of a double-header, then added two more hits in the second game.

With four multi-hit games in his first seven contests, it wasn’t any surprise that St. Louis manager Billy Southworth quickly slotted the rookie Musial to bat cleanup.  

Neither Musial nor his teammates had any luck in the first game of that day’s double-header against Pittsburgh starter Ken Heintzelman. The 25-year-old left-hander handed Musial the first 0-for-4 day of his career while shutting out the Cardinals over nine innings.

Musial and his teammates enjoyed better fortunes in the nightcap. Facing Rip Sewell, who hadn’t yet invented his famous “blooper” or “Eephus” pitch, Cardinals third baseman Jimmy Brown tripled then scored on an RBI groundout by Terry Moore to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.

The Cardinals added three runs on one hit in the fourth. After Musial led off with a walk, Estel Crabtree singled. Musial scored on a fielder’s choice and Crabtree and Creepy Crespi each scored on Pirate errors.

The score remained 4-0 when Musial stepped up to the plate to face Sewell in the fifth. Moore had just reached on an infield single when Musial homered over the right-field wall for the first of 475 career home runs.

In the seventh inning, Crabtree hit a three-run home run off Pirates reliever Joe Sullivan to make the final score 9-0. It was Crabtree’s fifth homer of the season.

Musial and Crabtree combined for six of the Cardinals’ eight hits for the day. Now 15-for-30 on the season, Musial had upped his batting average to .500.

“Even if the Red Birds have to bow to the fates and accept the second-place cash, it will lend considerable authority to the ageless battle cry that invariably follows: “Wait’ll next year!” wrote St. Louis Star and Times reporter W. Vernon Tietjen.[1]

Lanier earned his 10th win of the season, throwing nine shutout innings to lower his season ERA to 2.83.

With the win, the Cardinals ended the day with a 95-54 record, 1 ½ games behind the National League-leading Dodgers with just four remaining. The Cardinals finished the season 2 ½ games behind Brooklyn.

While St. Louis was unable to catch the pennant winner, Musial finished the season with a .426 batting average and seven RBIs in 47 at-bats. It was the first of 22 seasons for Musial, who won three World Series championships, three National League MVP awards, seven batting titles, and was selected for 24 all-star games in his career. He retired with 3,630 hits and a .331 career batting average. Musial was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1969.


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[1] W. Vernon Tietjen, “Cards 1 ½ Games Behind With 4 To Play; Dodgers Ready To Clinch Pennant,” St. Louis Star and Times, September 24, 1941.

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