I was born a St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan. I grew up in southern Indiana–almost a straight west 4 hour drive to St. Louis. My Daddy was a St. Louis Cardinal fan as were most of the people who lived in the area where I grew up. I remember going to Sportsman’s Park and to the old Busch Stadium when it was new and now we go to the new Busch Stadium. Those were our “vacations” as time away from the farm was usually short and not too frequent. One of my brothers and I have texted about it–yes, we had to have seen “The Man” play back before he retired in 1963. We were just too young and didn’t realize what a special event we were witnessing.
We have witnessed it since. We have seen his contribution to the sport and the legend that he is in St. Louis. We have seen him in the Hall of Fame and participating in years of St. Louis Cardinal baseball. We have heard and re-heard about the legend that he was and will always be in the eyes of St. Louis Cardinal fans. My middle brother and I were attending a game in August of 2011 that was “Build a Bear” day and all the children received a bear that had a replica of Stan Musial’s Medal of Freedom that he had been awarded by President Obama in February of that year. There was a little girl sitting behind us that had many questions for her mother about the fact that the bear had on a “6” Cardinal shirt and the medal. The mother explained who Stan Musial was and that he had received this medal from the President. The little girl seemed satisfied with that but she said, “And then he turned into a bear?” Both my brother and I had a very good laugh about that.
I was taken aback by his passing. It’s one of those things that you don’t think will happen. Funny thing was my husband thought he had already died. I remembered though–he was at one of the World Series games when the Cards were having that amazing fall of 2011. And, he was there again in October of 2012 at the NLCS. So, today I have read some of the stories and watched some videos about him.
The thing that has really resonated with me was Willie Mays’ statement that he “never heard anybody say a bad word about him-ever.” There were comments about his being scandal free and controversy free. There were comments about how he treated people on and off the field. President Obama called him an “icon untarnished, a beloved pillar of the community, a gentleman you’d want your kids to emulate.” Of course, there are the records….as they say, too many to talk about.
Now, I am not naive. I realize that things were different in that era. There wasn’t as much television news. There wasn’t the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc. But, there was still some of the controversy. Fans still heard about the antics of some of the players. But, according to all reports, you didn’t hear anything bad about Stan The Man…just about the gentleman, the legend, and all the great things he did on the field and for the sport. He played with one team his entire career. He was married to one woman and had 4 children.
So, why am I writing about this? In this week of hearing about cycling’s Armstrong and football’s Ta’o and of arguments about guns, politics, fiscal cliffs, debt ceilings, hostages, and upcoming championships, it was nice to hear that there was someone who appeared to be the great American hero. Stan Musial was someone who played baseball for the love of the sport, who excelled at it because he thought he could and who lived a good and happy life. He even took off a year to serve his country during the war, which was something that I did not know, because he felt it was his duty to do so. He inspired people from all over the country who followed his career by radio, newspaper, and TV and who saw what he did for the sport after he retired. He wasn’t someone who looked for all the attention and accolades, he just did what he had a passion doing. Isn’t that what all of us strive to do?
Stan The Man will be missed.