The news of Stan Musial’s death has yet to fully sink in. For me, as for many other Cardinal fans, it brings back a flood of emotions, and I’m not too manly to admit it – even tears. In the midst of corralling my nieces and nephews during babysitting night, I happened to catch the MLB Network Breaking News alert and Stan Musial graphic flash across the screen, and I immediately knew.
It could easily be argued that no town and its sport hero has ever had, or will ever have the love affair that St. Louis and Stan the Man had. He was the bridge between the GasHouse Gang and the modern era, reconnecting with new generations of Cardinals fans each season he appeared at Busch Stadium. He was revered, and you could feel the electricity and awe in the stadium every time he was there.
I never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but everyone who did said he was such a kind and giving man. One of my favorite recent memories of him, was a picture his grandson (who ran his twitter account) posted the day he was awarded The Presidential medal of freedom. It meant so much to him that he was still wearing it on the plane ride home. Awesome.
On a personal note, I am a fourth generation Cardinals fan. My grandfather was born in 1927 and would often tell me stories of Stan the Man and the Cardinal teams of his day. Many a summer night growing up, I would listen to Jack Buck and Mike Shannon tell stories about him during late innings of blowout games. He was the kind of guy who had the character to go tell management to cut his pay after one poor season (at least by his standards). That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen anymore.
His passing brings about a lot of sadness and nostalgia for me in the wake of watching Albert Pujols leave for LA and Josh Hamilton follow him a year later. If there were ever guys I thought would stay loyal to a team and city for a career, it was those two. But, as we are unfortunately reminded all too often, the game of baseball is ultimately a business. And although Musial played before the free agent era, I would like to be naive enough to believe that there was a time this was less the case.
I will not even attempt to give The Man the tribute he deserves. I will leave that to the Bernie Miklasz’s of the world. But above are just a few of so many things I will always remember about Stan the Man.
But I would like to make a proposal….
Right after the news of Musial’s death, I tweeted “Busch-Musial stadium has a nice ring to it”, to which I quickly got three replies all basically to the same effect. They suggested Musial Field at Busch Stadium.
I think that is beautiful and fitting. If you agree, help make it happen Cardinal Nation.