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I think they overemphasize age in athletics," Stan Musial said, "and I'm not saying that because I'm upward of 35. A lot has to do with a man's makeup, his physical condition and reflexes. Some players are through at 35, but that's because they don't keep themselves in good condition. A man starts looking old when he picks up 15, 20 pounds through the years. I'm six feet tall and weigh 180, five pounds more than when I started. I'm a great believer in conditioning. I've always taken good care of myself and watched my weight and diet."
A few days before, Cardinal Manager Fred Hutchinson had moved his star from right field to first base, explaining: "Musial doesn't cover the ground that he used to. He doesn't get the ball to the infield as quickly. I thought he would be much better off at first base because we do need a first baseman, and he was considered one of the best when he played it. This is no discredit to him. Who doesn't slow up? Stan's played 600-some games consecutively, and you can't tell me that doesn't take its toll on a guy who's played 15 years and given it as much as he has. It's got to wear him down."
To Musial, the shift is a challenge. "I like first base. I get a kick out of it," he said on a rainy afternoon in New York while he waited for the skies to clear before a night game with the Dodgers. "It's always a challenge with me when you're doing something different from playing the outfield, which I've been accustomed to playing all those years."
Hank Sauer, Musial's new roommate, nodded in agreement. His presence reflected another drastic change in the life of Stanley Frank Musial, which up until those hectic happenings had proceeded at a fine, evenly spectacular pace. Ten of his 15 seasons with the Cards he had roomed with the slow-talking but fast-moving Albert (Red) Schoendienst, until Trader Frank Lane abruptly shuffled the freckle-faced second baseman to the Giants.
"It's part of our business to be traded, and when you're in baseball, you have to take those things in your stride," was Musial's only comment on the trade. "When they told me Red was leaving, they asked me who I wanted as a roommate. I told them Hank. He and Red and I have palled around together since spring training."
"First I knew about it," Hank Sauer put in, "was at batting practice in St. Louis. The trade had been mentioned that morning. Red was there packing and the rest were getting their equipment together to go to New York. Yeh, it was a little sad. You hate to leave a ball club. All the players are your friends, and then when you get to a new club you have to make friends all over again. Well, during batting practice I was hitting them out and Stan was standing around the cage.
" 'Hi, roomie!" he said.
" 'What do you mean, "Hi, roomie"?'
" 'You're going to be my new roommate,' he told me. I was real happy about it."
"Hank and Red and I are a lot alike," Musial said. "I never did like to get involved when I'm playing baseball. Red and I had many friends on the road, but they're friends who don't bother us all the time or wait for us after the game, or at the train station, or try to rush us around here and there. In this game your mind has got to be free and you can't be tied up with too many people all the time.... Although I'm not a loner, or don't hibernate from people, I don't let them tie me up while the season is on.