The Last Great of His Generation
There was much appropriate notice the last few days of the 90th birthday of Stan “The Man” Musial, the great outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. The single best line about Musial was uttered by the guy who may just be the current “best player in the game” – Albert Pujols, also a Cardinal. The Great Pujols told St. Louis fans never to refer to him as El Hombre. There is only one Man in St. Louis, says Albert.
Perhaps because he labored in a smaller market than Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio, and was by all accounts a nicer guy not given to ignoring writers or marrying movie stars, Musial hasn’t always gotten the attention or worn the laurels that his lifetime .331 average and sweet left handed swing demands. It’s wonderful to listen to the late, great Cardinal broadcaster Jack Buck praise Musial not as just a great ballplayer, but a fine person.
As the Baseball Library website notes: “When he retired, Musial owned or shared 29 NL records, 17 ML records, 9 All-Star records, including most home runs (6), and almost every Cardinals career offensive record. In 1956 [Sporting News] named Musial its first Player of the Decade.”
Now, President Obama will bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on The Man in a White House ceremony next year. Pretty fast company, too, Bill Russell, Yo-Yo Ma and a baseball playing ex-president George H.W. Bush.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Bernie Miklasz put together a Top 90 list of things to like about Musial. The first, according to Miklaswz, “Musial is the nicest person we’ve known. He’s devoted much of his life to making others happy. ‘I suppose it’s because I’m a you-only-live-once type, and I figure I might as well enjoy everything that happens,’ Musial said at the end of his career. ‘It’s also with me pretty much a matter of putting myself in somebody else’s place. So what I try to do is never to hurt anybody else and figure if I don’t, then I’m not likely to get hurt myself.'”
Sounds like a guy who is worthy of a Presidential Medal.