May 2, 1954: Stan Musial hits record five home runs in doubleheader vs. Giants

Even future Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm couldn’t keep Stan Musial in the ballpark on May 2, 1954. In an afternoon doubleheader at Sportsman’s Park, Musial became the first player in major-league history to hit five home runs in a single day, smacking three home runs over the right-field wall in Game 1 before adding two more in Game 2.

Prior to the game, sportswriter Archibald Gordon “Tiger” Murray asked Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky, “Who is the best player in baseball? Stan Musial?”

“You have just asked and answered your own question,” Stanky replied.[1]

Musial seemed determined to prove it in that day’s doubleheader against the Giants.

Musial’s three homers in Game 1 were part of a 10-6 Cardinals win. Wally Moon, who went on to win that season’s NL Rookie of the Year Award, began the Cardinals’ scoring with a leadoff home run in the first inning. Tom Alston, who became the first black player in Cardinals history when he started in the season opener a few weeks earlier, followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0.

In the third inning, Musial hit his first home run of the day off a slow curveball[2] from Giants pitcher Johnny Antonelli, hitting the ball off the roof of the right-field pavilion to give the Cardinals a three-run lead.

After the Giants rallied for three runs off Cardinals starter Gerry Staley to tie the score, Alston hit an inside-the-park home run in the fourth. The Giants regained the lead, however, as Whitey Lockman and Wes Westrum hit back-to-back home runs to give New York a one-run lead.

Once again, Musial answered. After Red Schoendienst reached on an error, Musial hit his second home run of the day. This time, Antonelli challenged Musial with a low, inside fastball.[3] The result, however, remained the same: Musial again hit the ball to the roof of the right-field pavilion to give St. Louis a 6-5 lead.

Musial singled to right in the sixth, then came to bat in the bottom of the eighth with the game tied 6-6. Moon had led off the inning with a single and Schoendienst drew a walk to put runners on first and second ahead of Musial. Jim Hearn, a former teammate of Musial’s who played for the Cardinals from 1947 until 1950, tried a slider.[4] For the third time that day, Musial hit the ball onto the roof of the right-field pavilion.[5]

“Man,” Alston said, “every time I watch Stan hit, I’m ashamed to take a bat up to the plate.”[6]

It marked the first time in Musial’s big-league career that he had ever hit three home runs in one game. Afterward, Musial and his wife Lil recalled that he once hit three homers in a game with the Cardinals’ Class C Springfield affiliate. Musial explained that while his wife Lil was in the ballpark that day, she didn’t see any of his home runs because their son Dickie’s “calls of nature” had coincided with each of Musial’s homers.[7]

After eating a sandwich and a glass of milk between games,[8] Musial made his way back to the field for Game 2. On his way, teammate Al Brazle, a veteran lefthander, told him, “Hit three more, kid, and I’ll buy you a beer.”[9]

Musial nearly earned that beer.

In his first at-bat of Game 2, he walked and scored on an RBI double by Alston, who had gone 4-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs in Game 1. In the third inning, Musial again hit the ball hard, but Giants center fielder Willie Mays caught the ball at the warning track about 410 feet from home plate.[10]

The Giants held an 8-3 lead by the time Musial came to bat in the fifth. With Schoendienst on third following a leadoff triple, Musial hit Wilhelm’s curveball[11] over the right-field pavilion roof. Ray Jablonski followed with solo home run to cut the Giants’ lead to 8-6.

Two innings later, Musial hit his fifth homer of the day, this time hitting a knuckleball from Wilhelm over the pavilion roof to cut the Giants’ lead to 8-7. As he rounded the bases, Stanky said, Musial not only cracked a smile, but laughed at the absurdity of a five-homer day.[12]

Musial had an opportunity for home run No. 6 when he led off the ninth inning against Larry Jansen, but he flied out to first base.

“Jansen got me out on a bad pitch – a high fastball inside,” Musial said. “Yeah, I was going for one that time.”[13]

After the game, reporters helpfully informed Musial that his five home runs marked a major-league record.

“I still can’t believe it,” Musial said. “You mean real sluggers like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ralph Kiner – men like them – never hit five homers in a doubleheader?”[14]

Ironically, the only other man to ever hit five homers in a single day also was in the ballpark that day.[15] Eight-year-old Nate Colbert, who was cheering on the Cardinals that day, tied Musial’s record on August 1, 1972, in a doubleheader against the Braves.

Musial’s historic achievement drew the attention of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Director Sid Keener, a former St. Louis sportswriter, asked Musial for the bat, but understood if Musial wanted to continue using it for a while. Musial, however, was happy to send it to the Hall of Fame.

“I got a lot of bats,” he said.[16]

With five homers and nine RBIs for the game, Musial was up to eight home runs and 21 RBIs in 16 games to start the season. Usually a slow starter, he credited Stanky with playing him regularly during spring training.

“I’m sharper this spring because I played in more exhibition games,” Musial said. “I think that was Stanky’s planning for the simple reason I’ve always been a slow starter. I feel better at the plate now than I have in years because I’ve played more this spring.”[17]

Stanky, however, wasn’t having it.

“All I’ve got to say is he’s trying to be nice,” Stanky said. “He had the same start he had other years with me. Any and all credit due goes to that fellow. He’s just trying to be nice and pass the buck.”[18]

After basking in the acclaim of the sporting press, Musial returned home that evening to be greeted by his son Dickie.

“They must have been giving you fat pitches, eh, Dad?” the 13-year-old said.[19]

Musial finished the season with a .330 batting average, 35 homers, and 126 RBIs. He led the league with 41 doubles and 120 runs scored.

Musial was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot in 1969.


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[1] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[2] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[3] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[4] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[5] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[6] “Raschi to Pitch Tonight,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[7] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[8] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[9] “Stan Taxes Memory – Can’t Recall ‘Day Like This,’” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 3, 1954.

[10] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[11] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[12] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[13] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[14] Bob Broeg, “Musial’s Five Homers in Doubleheader a New Major League Mark,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 3, 1954.

[15] Craig Muder, “Musial sets standard with five home runs in doubleheader,” Baseball Hall of Fame, https://baseballhall.org/discover/inside-pitch/musial-hits-five-homers-in-doubleheader.

[16] “Musial’s Home-Run Bat to Cooperstown,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 4, 1954.

[17] “Stan Taxes Memory – Can’t Recall ‘Day Like This,’” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 3, 1954.

[18] “Stan Taxes Memory – Can’t Recall ‘Day Like This,’” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 3, 1954.

[19] Bob Broeg, “‘Fat Pitches?’ Asks Dickie After Dad Stan’s Big Day,” The Sporting News, May 12, 1954.

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  1. Pingback: July 8, 1962: 41-year-old Stan Musial hits three homers to power Cardinals past the Mets | STLRedbirds.com

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