Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

I Never Got to See Stan

The more I learned about the Cardinals as I was growing up, the more I realized that there were 3 players that I never really got to see play, but desperately wanted to:

  1. Bob Gibson was first in my mind. I read the book From Ghetto to Glory for a book report in junior high, and I was hooked on this almost mythological man that pitched on a broken leg and struck out 18 in a World Series game and would knock his grandmother on her ear if she dug in too much on him in the batter’s box. I asked my dad about watching Gibby pitch and if he really was that mean and if he had ever seen a more awesome pitcher.
  2. Ozzie Smith was second. I really started focusing in on players and teams around the time Ozzie retired. I saw a few of his last games on TV, and I know I was at the stadium a handful of times when he was still diving across the turf and back-flipping on to the field, but I don’t remember it. I don’t remember him. Considering the shortstops the Cardinals have gone through in the last few years, even though there have been a few dazzling plays, I know it doesn’t compare.
  3. I never saw Stan Musial. Like most of America, it took me awhile to really see how great “the Man” was during his career. I feel like I really didn’t figure it out until I was in college. I had heard of Stan, but I didn’t understand why he was so great.

Stan2

A perfect knight. The words make you think regal and showy and other such adjectives. Stan was none of those things. He was humble, happy, loyal, a gentleman to the core, and the nicest man you ever got to meet.

I never got to see Stan. He retired long before my parents even met. I never lived in St. Louis to just see him out and about. I never went to his restaurant and had a chance siting of him wandering around glad-handing the customers. I never got to see him drive around the warning track in a golf cart. I didn’t get to be at the stadium to Stand for Stan. I never went to Opening Day and saw him shake Tony’s hand. I never heard him play his harmonica. I wasn’t at the All-Star game in St. Louis when he got his triumphal entry that FOX didn’t even feel the need to really show on live television, and I wanted to throw things at the TV because of it.

I guess I thought I would someday. I live just 3 hours from the stadium now. I’m making plans to go to Opening Day.

I guess I thought there was still time.

I found out about Stan’s passing when I was on vacation this past weekend. In the midst of our relaxing weekend away, my husband and I sat in silence for a little while when we heard the news. I texted my parents, who hadn’t heard the news. We didn’t really have the words to describe what we were thinking. We debated on detouring through St. Louis on our way home from our trip, but it didn’t happen. We both felt drawn to the stadium, like it was calling us to come pay our respects.

I never got to see Stan, but I will never forget him.

3 responses to “I Never Got to See Stan

  1. nancy krause January 24, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Angie you make me feel old. Yes, I saw all 3 of these Cardinal Legends and idolized them all…especially Gibby and Stan. Ozzie made it big in St. Louis after I moved away, but of course I still followed the Cards daily so I was a major fan of his. My parents and my aunt fed me with all the historic stories of the Cardinal great teams of the 1940s, so Dizzy Dean, Hornsby and Enos Slaughter were all legends.

    But Stan was definitely the great one, and delivered game after game that we attended. Besides that he lived not far from us and built a bowling alley right there in our neighborhood. I got to bowl in a kids league there on Saturdays and was privileged to shake his hand as I received my trophy for who knows what one year and that was a thrill! He took time to make sure every kid got to shake his hand and he asked each of us our names, made us all feel special, and was so generous with his time. His restaurant was a little too pricey for our family, so I never had the privilege of eating there. But I was at his last game, and have the filled-out scorecard and the autographed 8 x 10 photograph to prove it.

    I grew up in St. Louis in the 50s and 60s and was at the 1964 Pennant winner sitting in the Pavilion seats as everything that had to happen for us to win, happened. Until the 2011 season, it was my favorite year ever….i was in the 8th grade and got to watch every single World Series game in my classroom since we were the oldest kids in school, and the school only had 1 TV. Gibson was historic in that series and my mom’s all-time favorite cardinal.

    There have been many amazing Cardinals through the years, but Stan will be tough to top as the greatest one of them all, not just because of his baseball prowess but because of the man he was. Keep his memory alive and share his stories with friends and the next generation. He is the kind of celebrity you want your children to emulate and aspire to be like.

    RIP great one.

  2. Pingback: Stan Musial Passes — United Cardinal Bloggers

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