Stan "The Man" Musial was the greatest player to ever don the birds on the bat for the St. Louis Cardinals. Musial essentially rewrote the National League record book during his twenty-two year career spent entirely with the Cardinals. This top ten list features the best Stan Musial cards from his surprisingly limited card library.
Stan Musial broke in with the Cardinals at the age of 20 during the 1941 season. In his first five seasons with the team, Musial helped the Cardinals win three World Series titles and added two National League MVPs and two batting titles. By the time Stan retired in 1963, he was the all-time National League leader in runs, hits, doubles, and RBIs. Additionally, Musial won a total of three National League MVP Awards and seven National League batting titles. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame during the summer of 1969.
The first baseball cards for Musial started to appear in the late 1940s. His popular early cards included appearances in Bowman and Leaf products. However, Stan Musial was noticeably absent from the 1950s Topps sets, and this was especially odd due to the fact that he was one of the best and most popular players in the game. During an interview in 2001 for the Topps' 50th Anniversary, longtime Topps executive Sy Berger, when questioned about Musial's absence in early Topps sets, stated: "He just didn't want to sign for cards."
With a little intervention from Cardinals owner Gussie Busch, Stan Musial made his first appearance on a Topps baseball card in 1958. From that point forward, Musial was a regular on Topps cards until the end of his career. Post retirement, Stan Musial has frequently appeared in a variety of baseball card sets and has numerous autographs and memorabilia cards to satisfy the needs of baseball card collectors.
Stan Musial is definitely one of the more challenging players from his era to collect due to the fact that his first cards were made six to seven years into his career and he was absent from the first six Topps baseball card sets. Appearing frequently in modern baseball card products, Musial has remained extremely popular with collectors who are more than willing to snatch up the cards of this all-time great.
This top ten list looks at the best cardboard from "The Man" with a focus on card value as well historical relevance and the overall appeal of the card.
Top 10 Stan Musial Baseball Cards
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Stan Musial has numerous relic cards in modern products, but his appearance in the cross-product 2000 Fleer Club 3000 insert set has always been a favorite of collectors. This relic card has several variations ranging from the single jersey card, which is hand-numbered to 975 copies, to the triple relic version (Bat/Hat/Jersey) that is limited to just 25 copies.
One of the great combination cards from a Topps set is this 1963 card, which marked the end of Musial's Hall of Fame career and the prime of Mays' Hall of Fame career. This card showed the passing of the torch from the former best player in the National League to the current best for many card collectors. Musial also has a regular 1963 Topps base card in this set.
There have been many certified Stan Musial autograph cards over the years, but this early 1990s Score signature was his first inserted into packs of baseball cards. The card has a print run of 2000, which seems astronomical for modern baseball card collectors, but it was an extremely tough pull from a junk wax product. The card has a great-looking gold signature across the front and was inserted into packs along with autographs of Mickey Mantle and Carl Yastrzemski. There is even an autograph card in the set with signatures from all three Hall of Famers, but is a tougher pull at just 500 copies.
One of the earliest Stan Musial cards, the Homogenized Bond Bread cards were distributed regionally in packages of bread. For an early Stan Musial, this card is not too pricey in raw form, but there have been a lot of reprints over the years. Many collectors looking for cards out of this set are willing to spend the extra money, not only for a high-graded copy, but also to make sure that they are getting the real deal.
While Musial did not appear in any of the early Topps sets, collectors can find several of his cards in the Bowman products. Stan Musial was included in Bowman's final go in 1953, which featured a nice color photograph of the Cardinals outfielder. This card offered a great change-up from earlier Musial cards that were either black-and-white, colorized, or featured artwork.
One common misconception about Stan Musial cards is that he did not have any releases between his last Bowman card in 1953 and his first Topps card in 1958. It's true there were not many, but collectors can find a few oddballs such as the 1954 Red Heart Stan Musial. The Red Heart cards were mail-in cards from packages of pet food. The bright background colors of these cards are their hallmark with each colored background representing a different series of the cards. The red cards, including Musial, were the last series in the Red Heart set and the most difficult to find.
Musial's second Bowman baseball card has long been one of his most popular early cards. The colorized photo on the blue background gives this card a very distinct look. Raw and graded copies of this card are in high demand and can be very pricey.
The first Musial Topps card might not have come until their seventh base set was issued in 1958, but the card has long been hailed as one of the most iconic cards of the era. Throughout most of the 1950s, Musial had little interest in appearing on baseball cards, but decided to sign a contract with Topps after Sy Berger made a donation to a charitable event hosted by Cardinals owner Gussie Busch. Many of the players in the All-Star subset are also featured on a card in the regular base set, however this is Stan's only card in the set.
Early cards for Stan Musial are mostly led by Bowman products, but collectors should also check out his 1948-49 Leaf card. A key card in a popular set, this is one of his most sought-after pieces of cardboard. Both raw and graded versions of the card are expensive. The price point could be much higher as there are many short prints in the Leaf set, but the Musial card is not one of them.
The 1948 Bowman set was small and simple, but it holds a special place with collectors as the first set ever produced just for the sake of offering baseball cards. Similar to the Leaf product, the 1948 Bowman set had a slew of great rookie cards. However, for Cardinals collectors, the 1948 Bowman set not only offers a chance at a Musial rookie card, but also his long-time teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, Red Schoendienst. The classic black-and-white rookie is truly a must-own for Cardinals fans.