St. Louis Cardinals Book Collection

As baseball author and book reviewer Ron Kaplan notes on his blog, the 2013 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox will spawn a slew of books about the winning team before the holidays.

It’s interesting for me to see the collections of fellow book collectors/hoarders, and sometimes they share photos of them on their blogs or in Facebook groups such as Baseball Books. Ron, a devoted Yankees¬†New York Mets fan,* shared his modest collection of Red Sox titles.

Before Game 6 of the Series commences tonight, I thought I’d share my Cardinals book collection. (A few titles are buried under papers and index cards on my desk, as I need them for the biography of Ken Boyer I’m writing.)

* Big correction: Ron is a Mets fan, NOT a Yankees fan. Big difference!

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Ken Boyer Book Project 01.24.13

This week was a sad one for research and writing with the passing of Stan Musial last Saturday at the age of 92.

Working on this project gives me a greater appreciation not only for the athleticism and decency of Ken Boyer, but that of his teammates like Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, and others from the Fifties and Sixties eras of Cardinal baseball. It also brings the realization that these gentlemen are growing older and may not be with us 10 years from now. Boyer himself would’ve been 82 years old on May 20 had lung cancer not stricken him in his prime.

Last Saturday afternoon, I had the chance to talk for about 30 minutes with Solly Hemus, former Cardinals infielder from 1949 to 1956 and team manager in 1959 and 1960. He was very giving of his time and shared lots of memories not only of Boyer, but Musial as well. Like other teammates, Mr. Hemus spoke fondly of Stan the Man. (I haven’t had the chance to transcribe what he said, but I’ll share some of his remarks at a later time.) About two hours later, I learned that Stan had passed away at his suburban St. Louis home.

Visitation for Mr. Musial was held today at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. I thought this photo from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was a touching one: two generations of Cardinals fans honoring his memory; a father bringing his son to look upon the man who truly was the Greatest Cardinal of Them All.

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Baseball’s Perfect Warrior, Baseball’s Perfect Knight

Stan Musial_Greatest Cardinal EverStanley 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.