You just knew at age 92, and in failing health this day would finally come--Stan “The Man” Musial would depart this earth and head for his next journey with an All-Star team in Heaven. His wife of more than a half century Lillian “Lil” passed away last year and there was precious little more to live for.
Musial had rounded third, and headed home so many times in a 22-year Major League career, the count was almost endless.
Having lost he ability to stand on his own and really take any more steps, Stan used to laugh and say “I guess I just legged out too many triples in my career.”
Mostly, it was four-baggers that brought the fans at Sportsmans Park to their collective feet.
5 Dingers in one day
Once, Musial slugged 5 home runs in a double header.
I cannot begin to tell you where my personal memories began or ended. But let me try.
As a youngster, I used to sleep in my wool baseball uniform with No. 6 sewn on the back. As a wee youngster, my dad took me to Sportsmans Park on Grand and Dodier in North St. Louis to see the Man and Red Schoendienst and our beloved Cardinals.
Stan used to drive a pink Cadillac, parked across the street from the park in a gravel lot. We used to sneak a touch to the side of the car.
Gracious to one and all
From 1998 to 2004, I was marketing director for the International Bowling Museum & Cardinals Hall of Fame.
We used to sponsor a wide variety of pre-game Cardinal events. One in particular was an autograph session with a bunch of out of towners going to the game. Most of the guests were from Iowa. Way back when, Stan played minor league ball somewhere in Iowa.
He signed autographs for every single guest at the pre-game party, and had a kind word for each of them. “Oh you are from Keokuk or Des Moines; I remember being there way back...”
Stan would often drop by the press box, sometimes with Gussie Busch and his wife and back-slap the sports writers. He always had a standard greeting: “Whada say, whadya say.”
On certain occasions, he would pull out his harmonica and rip off a few tunes. That was far more exciting than most the games.
Guess who got the final word?
Stan had ownership of steak house, “Stan and Biggies” on Oakland Avenue. One day, he took a call from his wife Lil who called him on the carpet for some transgression at home. Stan emerged from the office saying: “Oh boy did I tell her off.”
My son used to work at Baskin Robbins ice cream in Ladue. Several times Lil came by to pick up some carry out favorite flavor for Stan. She always professed to not having her purse and flipped my kid a Stan Musial baseball card instead.
Who would argue with the wife of a Hall of Famer anyway.
I have Stan's autograph on several items included some well preserved baseballs. They will go to my grandkids some day. They won’t know “Stan the Man” but I sure did.
Stan, thanks a million for all the memories.