Not all the kudos of the opening week of baseball belonged to the youngsters. In Chicago 36-year-old Warren Spahn, who has won over 200 games during his 11-year career, started Milwaukee toward its widely predicted pennant by defeating the Cubs 4-1 and followed with a second victory five days later. In Brooklyn, Sal Maglie, who was born 20 days after the U.S. entered World War I, beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, many of whom barely remember World War II. Yet the first perfect performance of the fresh season came from an oldster who already wears more laurels than any other active player: 36-year-old Stan Musial.
It was a warm, murky day, and visibility was poor as the St. Louis Cardinals opened the season in Cincinnati. To quiet their abdominal butterflies the younger Cardinals clowned around before the game, and one of the jokes was to ask Stan Musial, who was about to start his 16th opener, if he was nervous. Musial just grinned and let his bat answer for him.
In the first inning with one out and Al Dark on second, Stan faced Redleg Starter Johnny Klippstein. The pitcher fired a low fast ball, and Musial drove it to right-center field for a run-scoring double. When he came to bat in the third inning, the Crosley Field lights had been turned on. Don Blasingame was on third, and two were out. This time Klippstein solved the Musial problem by walking him. Two innings later there was one out, and Dark was on first base. Klippstein tried another low fast ball and again Musial doubled to right center.
By the sixth inning, Klippstein had departed in favor of Left-hander Don Gross. There was one out, Blasingame was on second and the ever-present Dark on first. Gross tried a curve, and Musial stroked it into right field.
The Cardinals were well ahead when Musial came to bat for the last time with Hersh Freeman on the mound and, sure enough, Dark on first. Freeman tried a high fast ball. Musial sent it skipping through the infield for his fourth hit. That left Musial just 215 hits short of a lifetime mark of 3,000 which only seven players in history have reached.