Today, 90-year-old Stan Musial will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, given "for especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors"
I'm guessing that Musial falls under the heading of significant public endeavors. He's the eighth baseball player to garner the honor, joining Joe DiMaggio (1977), Jackie Robinson (1984), Ted Williams (1991), Hank Aaron (2002), Roberto Clemente (2003), Frank Robinson (2005), and Buck O'Neil (2006). After the jump, baseball's Medal of Freedom dominance and who's next ...
Here are the four big professional leagues and how many of their members have won the Medal ...
Bill Russell's the ex-NBA player on the list. And for all the NFL's popularity, we've got another fine example here of baseball's longtime status as our National Pastime.
Who's next? I was a little surprised to find that Willie Mays hasn't already been honored, and I'll bet he's next among baseball players, if not athletes generally.
After Willie, though? It's not enough to be a great baseball player. There has to be something else, a certain mystique or whatever you want to call it. Which probably leaves out Tom Seaver, but might include Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan.