Aaron-Musial friendship extended far from field
Korean War tour forged enduring relationship between Hall of Famers
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Hank Aaron's memories of Stan Musial extend beyond the many games they played against each other during their Hall of Fame careers. They shared a friendship that began when they spent two weeks visiting United States military personnel in Korea more than 50 years ago.
"We went all over Korea," Aaron said. "We went in the DMZ [the buffer zone between North and South Korea]. Stan and I were roommates. We slept in the same bunk. I had never been in the Army. It was the only time they made us all lieutenant colonels in the Army, just in case something happened to us, so that we could get the benefits."
Fortunately, Aaron and Musial returned to the United Sates unharmed and with the ability to complete their Hall of Fame careers. They are the only players in Major League history to hit at least .300 with a .500 slugging percentage, 450 home runs and 3,500 hits.
While Aaron spent all but two years of his career with the Braves, Musial spent his entire career in St. Louis with the Cardinals.
"He was a helluva ballplayer," Aaron said. "He was a great hitter. I remember when we were having a team meeting and [Hall of Fame pitcher] Warren Spahn would talk about how we should pitch him. Warren said, 'Well, I tell you what I'm going to do. I'm just going to walk him, because I can't get him out.'"
Aaron had the honor of experiencing his first All-Star Game while playing in front of the hometown fans at Milwaukee's County Stadium in 1955. He still loves to tell the story about how Musial provided the National League with a 6-5 win with a 12th-inning walk-off home run.
"I remember that Stan Musial came to the dugout and he said, 'Boys, they don't pay us to play extra innings,' and then he went up there and hit a home run," Aaron said. "That is the truth."
Another of Aaron's favorite stories about Musial occurred during their trip to Korea. They were provided one Nikon camera that Musial unsuccessfully operated as they were flying in a helicopter one afternoon.
"I said, 'Stan, you're taking all of these pictures, now send me a copy of them," Aaron said. "Next time I saw him he said, 'Man, all I took was the floor board of the helicopter.'"
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.