Here are two stories about Musial, over the transom, from readers in Connecticut and Missouri. Your own comments are welcome, below:
A little story about “Stan the Man”
This is probably one of a thousand stories about the special person that Stan Musial was.
Stan Musial’s daughter and her family lived on a beautiful street in Kirkwood next door to a friend and classmate of my daughter, Annie. I had recently spoken to her friend’s mother who told me that Stan was always over at his daughter’s house doing chores and odds and ends and how he was just the nicest person to everyone in the neighborhood.
One evening, my brother Bill, who lived in Dallas, called to tell me that he was coming to St. Louis to attend the 40th birthday party of his very good friend and roommate at Mizzou. His friend’s first name was Stan and was actually named after “Stan the Man.”
My brother commented that it would really be special if he could get something written from “Stan the Man” to Stan (his friend) as a birthday present. I remembered what the neighbor said and called the neighbor to see if it were possible to do this the next time Stan was at his daughter’s house.
I had an 8 x 10 glossy of Stan Musial at home and I brought it over to the neighbor. She said she would ask him the next time she sees him and that, as a matter of fact, Stan has been sealing his daughter’s driveway the past few days.
The neighbor called me the following Saturday to tell me that she saw Stan sealing the driveway and went out to ask him the favor of signing the picture.
She went on to tell me that upon this request, Stan said “Wait right here. I’ll be back in half an hour.” A little later, Stan came back and brought with him a number of articles all signed by Stan and with well wishes for the other Stan on his birthday. He obviously had dropped everything, drove home, and returned with the items which made one man’s birthday very very special.
And guess what? Stan didn’t ask for one dime. He was just honored to be asked. He did not personally know any of us but it didn’t matter.
When I think of Stan Musial, certainly I think of all the hits I witnessed as a kid and young adult, I am almost 70 now, but most of all I remember this story because this little act of kindness defines who he was. “The Man.”
The passing of Stan Musial is a sad event for all who knew of him! Litchfield, Connecticut, my life long home, may be far away from St. Louis and populated by Red Sox, Mets and Yankees fans, but any baseball fanatic who followed Mr. Musial's career, even to a minute degree, had to love his kind and wondrous personality.
Indeed, I will never, ever forget the glorious human being who was Stan The Man Musial. And, thank The Lord I bumped into him in person twice by amazing chance.
One of those days, my son, Tommie, a Red Sox fan, and I, a Giants fan, were standing outside the door of the room where the Hall of Famers go for their party in Cooperstown, New York. Of course, we were gazing closely to catch glimpses of our Red Sox and Giants all time heroes. As we were doing so, a fan, standing right behind us, who did not need a microphone, began announcing the names and nicknames of each player moving toward us.
"Pee Wee Reese!" he exclaimed as Pee Wee moved right up to us and gave all of us a high wave. "Willie Stretch McCovey!" the microphone blurted out. Willie simply moved by with speed, as if he were rushing out of the dugout to his first base post at a Polo Grounds home game. I saw quite a few of those games with my dad, Thomas D. Williams, a Giants fan as well, particularly after Willie Mays became my favorite rookie center fielder ever.
Our announcer continued his stupendous identifications of a couple of other famers before his apparent favorite arrived.
"Stan Musial!" he exclaimed with extraordinary enthusiasm. Stan, donning a huge smile, began walking toward us from the car that took him there. As Stan, got closer, our announcer yelled out: "Give us the stance, Stan!" So Stan stopped in mid-walk, and indeed gave us that notorious batting stance: his two arms high above and well in back of his head and his legs slightly crouched and apart. Without further prompting, Stan swung his arms forward as if his bat was about to strike a fast ball. He finished the swing, moved forward toward Tommie and I, resumed his stance and swung again. By the time Stan repeated this for his third swing, he was just feet away from us. He resumed his stance and exclaimed: "Once again?!" But, he stopped there for seconds, dropped the imaginary bat, broke out with an amazing smile and continued walking into the Hall of Fame party.
Upon another occasion, years apart, I was anticipating more lively action from Hall of Famers close to the same hallers' arty location. First I remember Yogi Berra and several other famers trudge by without episode or comment except for yells from the crowd: "Hey Yogi, Yogi,Yogi!" No answer and on into the Hall he walked. I was a bit disappointed until I saw this guy I could not yet recognize get out of a car and began his energetic walk. As he did so, he reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a harmonica. He soon put it to his lips as he continued his path and began playing "Take Me Out ToThe Ball Game!" As he was finishing, the crowd yelled: "Give it to us again Stan!" It was Stan The Man and once again, he belted another one out of the park: this one, however, was the greatest of baseball songs!
Dennie Williams, a Lifetime Giants Fan
Fans have sent in their memories of Musial to John Hall, collector of midwest baseball history. Many are touching, and give a great sense of the hold Musial has on the region.
For fans further east, I hear there will be a service in his home town of Donora, Pa., in mid-February. I will keep you posted. GV
Willie Mays on Stan Musial:
Mays was at the Baseball Writers’ dinner in New York Saturday night when word got around that Stan Musial had passed.
Willie Weinbaum of ESPN sent this report to Buster Olney:
"It is a very sad day for me," Willie Mays said in a brief interview after being informed of his perennial National League All-Star Game teammate's passing. Mays, on hand to celebrate the 2012 Giants' world championship honorees and the chapter's "Willie, Mickey and the Duke" award to his 1973 Mets, called Musial "a true gentleman who understood the race thing and did all he could.
"I never heard anybody say a bad word about him, ever."
This dovetails with Bernie Miklasz’ anecdote about Musial. Some people from a younger generation see Musial as less than a hero because he didn’t go on freedom rides.
How you live your daily life is important, too.
Here's a link to a terrific column by Bernie Miklasz in the Post-Dispatch. My thanks to Lynn McGuire, widow of the great John McGuire, for sending me this link.
A FEW PEOPLE HAVE INCLUDED PERSONAL MEMORIES OF MUSIAL. I'D LOVE TO SEE YOURS BELOW. GV.
We now prepare for the tributes, in the town that loved him.
Church and state in St. Louis will honor Stan Musial in the days and weeks to come, and the baseball-playing part of the world can update its memory of Stan the Man -- .331 batting average, 475 home runs, speed and consistency, voted the best baseball player of the post-war decade by Life Magazine.
He was more than that – he was the approachable face of baseball, a humble man who came to St. Louis and stayed, until he passed Saturday at the age of 92. The family has lost Lil and Stan in a short time.
I was lucky enough to get a feel for Musial in St. Louis while writing his unauthorized biography, Stan Musial: An American Life, which was a best-seller in 2011.
He was past speaking for himself but I was honored that some of his best friends, teammates, opponents and family spoke about him, portrayed him as very human.
I was privileged to be at the White House in 2011 when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He seemed subdued most of the time but lit up when President Obama put the medal around his neck.
His friends said he wore the medal when he made the rounds of his lunch places back home in the days afterward. .
I’ll be writing about him for the Times in the Monday edition.
For the moment, my condolences go to his family and that huge swath of the country that loved him, as its own.
1/20/2013 06:15:59 am
Thanks George for bringing "The Man" to life for this NY native, who was in 3rd Grade when he was inducted into the HOF. Nothing but good stuff being mentioned on the airwaves and TV today about him here in NY Costas,just now on MLB-tv, who got his start in St Louis, "he was always kind and approachable.." When I move on, if thats what they say about it, I have done something right..........
10/15/2013 12:06:04 am
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8/26/2013 11:00:10 pm
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1/20/2013 06:31:48 am
Mr. Vecsey, you wrote a wonderful book and I look forward to Monday's article. I have two dear friends born in southern Illinois who worship Musial to this day as, indeed, "The Man." I was thinking of the story Doug Harvey, the greatest umpire, I ever saw, told about him--that Harvey grew up imitating him and then worked the plate as a rookie umpire with Musial at the plate and blew the third strike call. He said Musial just handed his bat to the batboy, told him to get his glove, kept his head down, and simply said, remember to wait until the pitch crosses the plate before you call it, and walked away. And Harvey said, now I know why they call him The Man.
1/20/2013 02:38:52 pm
Fast forward a few decades, and batters called Harvey G-d, a tribute to his skill and demeanor. He was wise enough to listen to a polite suggestion by a known gentleman and superstar. Credit to both.
7/15/2013 10:35:07 pm
Musial was born in Donora, Pennsylvania, where he frequently played baseball in both informal and organized settings, eventually playing on the baseball team at Donora High School.
1/20/2013 10:05:49 am
Your book captured him so well and introduced me to his family and growing up. My memories are of the sound of his line drives cracking off the right field wall, and of the fans in Ebbets Field standing in his honor recognizing his great play. He was "The Man."
1/20/2013 02:03:38 pm
1/20/2013 02:46:11 pm
Comment From John G. Hall, source on Missouri baseball and also the subject of a chapter in the Musial biography:
1/20/2013 02:55:46 pm
Look forward to reading your book!
1/21/2013 01:24:38 am
Mea Culpa: My man Big Al chides me about my reference to the decade from 1946-55. I refer to Mays and Aaron as the young players at the end of that decade and omit a certain No. 7 from Oklahoma who grew up with Musial as his favorite player. (The Yankees told him to say it was DiMaggio, instead.) Mantle hit 124 home runs in the first post-war decade, arriving in 1951. I guess I had National League on the brain. Mantle and Musial had a great respect for each other (I go into it in the book).. Sorry, Al. GV
1/21/2013 02:20:02 am
Had the honor (as a substitute Driver for Stag Beer) to make a delivery
1/21/2013 03:23:44 am
George, I just read your piece in the Times about Musial. Thanks.
1/21/2013 08:33:07 am
1/22/2013 08:07:01 am
As with all your work....brilliant. I never met him...I am 38 so I never saw him play....but I am as saddened by his death as that of my father's nearly 5 years ago.
1/23/2013 07:06:06 am
Your tribute to Stan the Man and Richard Goldstein's excellent obituary touched a special nerve with me. As a kid growing up in Holyoke, Mass in the 1940s, I was, of course, a Red Sox fan and Ted Williams was my idol. But I was also a true baseball fanatic who devoured every box score, memorized all the batting average, and knew the starting lineups of all sixteen major league teams. I loved going to ball games with my dad, both to Fenway and to Braves Field, and I always insisted that we arrive early to watch batting practice.
1/23/2013 10:05:29 am
1/27/2013 12:56:43 pm
Mr. Vecsey, Thank you for your continued interest in the fans of baseball. I had many opportunities to see Stan Musial play in the decades of the 40's when my interest in the game was peaking. I lived a few blocks from Ebbets Field and generally had the vantage point from the bleachers at $.55. in Hilda's domain. I often saw the Cooper brothers play. Early on they were matched with Whitlow Wyatt. Occasionally we could gain entrance from a kind usher in the 3rd or 4th inning when the money was not available for a ticket. Mostly I tried to see Cardinal games because they had such a ghreat lineup. The decades followed quickly, but I never forgot those days and Musial who exemplfied them. Flash forward about 60 years and I found myself In Jupiter, Fl. at Roger Dean stadium for an exhibition game between STL and Florida....I own a condo in Boca Raton. A few minutes before game time, the PA announcer asked for quiet to introduce a special guest...it was Stan Musial in a special box above home plate. I was thrilled, probably about 75 years old then and I had the same feeling i had in my youth when in the prersence of a distinguished star.
1/28/2013 06:25:37 am
HAVING THE GOOD FORTUNE TO GROW UP IN FLATBUSH ;
4/29/2013 06:22:51 am
1/28/2013 08:28:50 am
Thanks for those visions of Musial.It's amazing how accessible he was to people. I remember the Glaviano game. I think my dad was at the game, and brought the scorecard out to Pennsylvania where we were visiting family. There are stories (which I could not find in a cursory scan) about how the Cardinals teased Glaviano -- although not that night. Best, GV
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5/22/2013 01:07:56 am
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11/8/2013 08:28:47 am
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From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.