I have played and enjoyed watching baseball virtually my entire life. I grew up in Jefferson City and we listened to every Cardinal game on KMOX radio — the announcers were Harry Caray and Jack Buck. Back in the 1960s the Cardinals were really a good team with many famous baseball players — Ken Boyer, Curt Flood, Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver, etc. But most every night either Harry or Jack would have some comment about a former great Cardinal baseball player — Stan Musial. Sometimes they were comparing the baseball ability of a current player to Musial and other times they were holding out Musial as a man that these current players should model their life after.
When I was very young, I got to watch Musial play at the end of his career. He was still a really good baseball player. But more importantly, he was a very special human being. Musial died recently in St. Louis, and Bob Costas was asked to give the eulogy. As you would expect, Costas did a fabulous job. What struck me was that Costas talked more about the character of Stan Musial rather the baseball player named Stan Musial. He told some very heart-warming stories of how Stan Musial had touched the lives of so many people — some famous people and most just regular folks he met along his journey in life.
But, Costas missed a story that I want to tell now.
When I was a senior in high school in Jefferson City we played football against CBC High School and Stan’s grandson played on CBC. All week we were more interested in knowing if Stan Musial was coming to watch his grandson play football than to prepare to face the CBC football team. Well, Musial did attend the game and when he arrived everyone in the stadium stood and gave him a standing ovation. After the game, our team went over to the CBC stands and stood in line for over an hour to each get an autograph from Stan “The Man.” I don’t remember if we won the game but I do remember meeting Stan Musial. That simple act of kindness is something that I still remember just has though it was yesterday. I hope I told Mr. Musial thanks for the autograph back then, but in case I didn’t, thanks for being so kind to me and to our entire team.
Rest in Peace, Stan Musial!