He Will Always Be “THE MAN”

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 09:39 AM.

The fights in the back yard pick up games were not about some advantage gained in choosing up sides, a close call at second or the final score. It was about who got “to be” Stan in that game. Right handed batters would move to the left side of the plate to emulate him. Every little league player in our town wanted to get the number 6 jersey.

My first trip to Sportsman’s Park was in 1955. I’d never seen grass so green. I was a little surprised that Stan was the same size as the rest of the players. He didn’t disappoint this day, getting a couple of hits off a tough Cincinnati pitching staff and driving in, naturally, a key run. That trip is still one of the highlights of my life.

Heroes were real in small towns like ours. Stan never wavered from the top of the list. And we never out grew him. I wouldn’t date a girl that didn’t pull for him and the Cardinals. I bought baseball cards looking for Stan up to the day he retired. My loyalty ran as deep as a Donora, Pennsylvania, coal mine. He WAS family! Bobby Jack, Terry Brown, Jackie, Leon, Bobby C., Mr. and Mrs. Cantrell, Deake, Buddy…... I could list near about the whole town who thought just like I did. It wasn’t so much as the years rolled by, “did the Cards win?” but “how did Stan do?”

He galvanized all of us.

It has been a thrill and an honor to be associated in such a way with Stan Musial over the years. He is an untarnished hero. He was universally loved and respected by contemporary players, kings, paupers and presidents. He truly lived an exemplary life. By all accounts this 24 time Major League All Star was a better person than he was a baseball ballplayer. I’m not sure you can pay a man a higher tribute than that!

As the tears came freely over Stan’s passing, so did my memories of the long vigils around that old Zenith radio with the four most precious people in my life. I thought of Ricky, Squeaky, Emily Scarbrough, Chick, Goat Hayes, J. S. and a hundred others…… Some I’ve already heard from. The others, I promise, rolled my name over when they heard the news. We all thought back to those pick up games or a ride to St. Louis or the Sunday afternoon doubleheader on May 2, 1954, when The Man hit five home runs against the Giants.

Stan has brought us all together again. It’s just like old times.

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