I was away all day, and when I got home this evening, I learned that baseball great, Stan Musial, died today at the age of 92. Every time I think of him, I remember one of those glorious days of my childhood.
In the early summer of 1963, some of the dads took some of the kids to Candlestick Park to watch the San Francisco Giants play the Saint Louis Cardinals. I had seen some of the greats of the day hit home runs – players like Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, but I’ve never before or after seen a homer like the one Musial hit out of the park – literally – that day.
He was a left hander with a funny looking stance, with his knees together, almost touching, but the ball he hit that day cleared the right-field bleachers, sailed way above them, out to the parking lot beyond. People were shaking their heads like they couldn’t believe what they’d seen. Though the Cards were the home team’s opponents that day, everyone rose to their feet to clap as Stan rounded the bases.
He retired at the end of the year with numerous major league records and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969 on the first ballot.
Stan Musial at the 2009 All-Star game
So what’s the big deal after all these years? Just childhood nostalgia? To some extent, maybe, but there is something more. In one respect he reminds me of my father – both were born in 1920 and both served in the navy in WWII. But more than that, it’s a “greatest generation” thing. The day I saw Musial hit his home run, back in the era of my innocence, was also something like a time of national innocence.
It’s not that I think ball players were the saints that starry-eyed kids thought they were, but a player like Stan-the-man had no need of steroids. It’s nice to pause and reflect on someone who personifies what we can become if we follow “the better angels of our nature.”
Here is the full story:http://usat.ly/VdXpmE