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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Remembering 'The Man'

  • Every fan of the St. Louis Cardinals has a story to tell about Stan Musial.
    And each one is more captivating than the next.
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  • Every fan of the St. Louis Cardinals has a story to tell about Stan Musial.
    And each one is more captivating than the next.
    It may be a mere tale of being in the same room as him or being at Busch Stadium when he made a special appearance, but nonetheless it's a story, something Cardinal baseball fans hold dear because, after all, he was "The Man." He was the great ballplayer our fathers and grandfathers saw play, the legend of a baseball organization, the ruler of a baseball kingdom that has become known to all as Cardinal Nation.
    Any team's name could be inserted before the "Nation" phrase, and for media and marketing purposes it is most of the time, but it is because of Stan the Man Musial the term Cardinal Nation really is an existing circle of followers of the United States' heartland. Hannibal is no exception and with the passing of the legendary Musial Jan. 19, baseball fans reflected with their stories of The Man and why he was so special.
    Hannibal's Ed Phillips played in the Cardinals organization and was even a September call-up from the minor leagues in 1953 and 1954 for St. Louis. Phillips' success in the minors includes an MVP, batting champion and even a memory making, game-winning home run to end an 18-inning battle which was his second round-tripper of that particular day. But the outfielder only saw time as a pinch runner, because his outfield position was taken by Stan the Man.
    "He couldn't get up behind Stan," Phillips' widow, Joyce Phillips, said.
    Phillips bounced around the minor leagues until deciding to move on from baseball. He got to play with Hall of Famer Earl Weaver — who also died last weekend on Jan. 19 — in Omaha for the Cardinals farm club in Nebraska, but a funny moment came one time on a train and it involved none other than Musial.
    "When they were on a train once, he said somebody thought he was Stan," Joyce Phillips said. "He said, 'Man, how exciting that was.'"
    Stan the Man also has a special place in Marty Kurz heart.
    Hannibal is Kurz's home now, but he was St. Louis born and raised. Just so happens he went to the same high school as one of Stan's sons.
    "I was a senior when he was a freshman," Kurz said. "He came through and I saw his name as 'Musial.' I said are you any relation to Stan Musial, he said 'that's my father.' I said well I've been a Stan Musial fan ever since I've been a boy."
    The next day Stan's boy came bearing a gift. A ball signed The Man himself.
    "This is from Dad," Musial's son told Kurz.
    Page 2 of 2 - "He was a good player, everybody liked Stan Musial. He hit home runs all the time. He was well-liked in St. Louis. He was one of the best ballplayers in all the leagues at that time and even to this day, very few men have accomplished in baseball what he has. I don't believe they'd give that nickname to anybody else," Kurz said. "I was a member of the knothole gang of the St. Louis Cardinals at the old Sportsmans Park. I had an aunt and uncle, and grandmother and grandfather who lived about a mile, mile and a half from the park. In the summer time I used to stay with them particularly when the Cardinals were playing in town. My granddad would take me to the ballpark and he'd sit out in the bleachers and I'd sit with the knotholers. I was a knothole all through grade school."
    And that special gift. It's still around.
    "I gave it to my son, he still has it," Kurz said.
    Fans will get to say farewell to The Man Thursday when a public visitation will be held at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis.

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