Where does one begin when it comes to the legacy of Stan Musial?
He had a heart like no other being. Whether in a baseball uniform as a legendary player of our national pastime or in a suit and tie as a public figure amongst the people, Stan was and always will be "The Man." He is an example of the best ways to live life humbly and honorably.
There's no denying we all knew this day would come. No one lives forever, even though Stan had a prominent and seemingly immortal glow and persona, but nonetheless his loss in this world is still felt; from those like myself who never saw him play but know and feel him impact, to those who gathered around the radio and TV just to hear and see what he would do next.
No matter how many men wear the St. Louis uniform with the birds on the bat to become popular and legendary as defined by either the fans or the game, they will all always be gathered in second place to Stan Musial. The Man is the reason why baseball is so special to us who adore the hot days and dark memorable nights between April and October. Because of Stan, our fathers and grandfathers have stories to tell us of what they saw, what they heard that we as a Cardinal Nation pass on to our own children and them to their's. Stan was a real life story book hero who lived amongst the people. To see him at the ballpark or any function was like being in the presence King Arthur or Joan of Arc. But unlike them, the hero who was the subject of so many stories due to his battles on the baseball diamond in his armor of an STL ballcap, high stirrup socks and a thick wool uniform was amongst us, the people, the fans. And now with his passing, a new story is written. Those of us who witnessed him at any stage of his life now have the honor of saying we saw him here, or there, wherever the place may have been. And we are now not only the repeat story tellers of what older generations told us of The Man, we are now the story tellers that keep his legend alive, the story tellers who shared this earth with The Man until his final days.
Everyone has a Musial story to tell in some capacity. And I'm proud to say that I am not unlike anyone else. My piano teacher in grade school grew up as Stan the Man's neighbor and was friends with his children; my grandmother's phone was used by a family friend who knew Stan in Pennsylvania and called him up at his restaurant, and I myself got to shake his hand as he made his way into the Cardinals Clubhouse.
Page 2 of 2 - I was just a college journalist lucky to have a press pass at Busch Stadium II and as Stan made his way in to the Cardinals Club house all of the reporters standing nearby got into an impromptu line to shake his hand. I was in the same line as journalists from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and local TV sports anchors, guys who I thrived to be someday. I blended in as best as I could and got a spot in line right next to the clubhouse door. Everyone greeted The Man with "Hi Stan," and "Hey Stan." I kept quiet and extended my hand as he came by. It wasn't a traditional handshake, his right hand cuffed and clasped with mine and he gave me a polite, grace shake of greeting. He didn't have time to make eye contact, he just kept moving when he exchanged pleasantries with everyone — it was clear if he was going into the Cardinals Clubhouse, The Man was on a mission.
Even when Hollywood came to St. Louis to make a movie about the 1950 U.S. World Cup Soccer Team, "Miracle Match," a conversation between the characters in the film is halted when Stan the Man Musial comes to the plate.
Stan will always be The Man and he will always be the pedestal every Cardinal player will thrive to reach.