Stanley F. Musial–Swingin’ Stan the Man (as the song goes)–passed away at his suburban St. Louis home on Saturday, January 19. He was 92 years old.
As St. Louis Cardinals fans, we knew this day was coming. Mr. Musial had been in failing health for the past few years and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about a year ago. We knew the day would come, but it doesn’t make any less sad.
I never met Mr. Musial or had the opportunity to meet him or talk with him. I knew when I began my book project on Ken Boyer two years ago that interviewing him would be very unlikely for the above mentioned reasons. I would’ve been honored to have met The Man whom many fans refer to as the Greatest Cardinals of Them All.
That Saturday afternoon, I was talking with his teammate and manager, Solly Hemus, on the telephone. Along with questions about Ken Boyer, I asked for his memories of Stan Musial as a teammate, which he graciously shared. It was an hour or two later that I learned of Mr. Musial’s passing.
I’m too young to have seen him play, aside from watching grainy black-and-white highlights of his 22-year career on VHS tapes. But I appreciate history, and Stan Musial was a big part of the Cardinals’ history. He played on three World championship teams, batted .331 in 3,026 games, and had 3,630 base hits–half at home and half on the road. That last statistic is absolutely incredible with one thinks about it!
I have numerous framed 8 x 10 photos of Cardinals players hanging on my office walls. I have Ken Boyer (of course), Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, and Enos Slaughter. I have favorites from my childhood and teenage years like Ted Simmons, Jack Clark, and Tom Brunansky. I even have Bob Horner! The one I don’t have–yet–is Stan Musial.
The reason is: I had never found the perfect photo of him to hang there. The greatest of the great Cardinals.
I’ve decided the one above is one I want to have, posing in the on-deck circle leaning against his bat. Now, with his death, I’ll start searching for it.
This week, I expect to begin writing about Ken Boyer’s rookie season in St. Louis in 1955. I’ll be reading quite a bit about Stan Musial this year and his friendship with Mr. Boyer. And I’ll look forward to returning to St. Louis this spring or summer, not only to watch today’s Cardinals on the field, but to visit the Musial statues outside Busch Stadium. I know they will mean a little more to me now.
God bless you and your family, Mr. Musial. Thank you for the memories, and for being such a gentleman on and off the field.