Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Stand with Stan

Stan Musial, the greatest Cardinals player of all time, will turn 90 in November.  The St. Louis Cardinals Organization are organizing a “grassroots” campaign to convince President Obama to give Stan the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States.  Yeah, I know.  It can’t really be grass roots if it’s organized by a corporation, but I signed the petition anyway.

Stan Musial is an old fashioned baseball legend, a guy who was with one team and who has stayed loyal. And he was a great player, a career .331 hitter with seven NL batting titles.  It’s hard to get attached to baseball players these days, they might leave for more money.  But Stan?  He’s always been part of St. Louis:

Though Musial left the playing field, he never left his fans. He stayed put in his adopted city, lending his good name to good causes -- from Old Newsboy Days and the Easter Seal Society to the current fundraising campaign to renovate the Soldiers Memorial. Ask St. Louisans about Stan the Man, and they might tell you about the time they shook his hand in a restaurant or heard him play his harmonica with members of the St. Louis Symphony.

Yes.  You can run into him anywhere.  I’ve seen him at the airport and at church.   It’s a bit harder these days, he’s getting older and doesn’t get out as much.  But he still shows up for big days at the ballpark.

It was Senator Kit Bond’s idea that Stan should be honored and this is one thing I agree with Senator Bond on.   "Throughout his life, Stan has never sought recognition for his good works. His happiness comes from doing the right thing and bringing joy to others,'' wrote Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. in his nominating letter. "While Stan does not know of our efforts to nominate him for this honor, we respectfully request your consideration as Stan has been a true role model -- exemplifying the humility, grace and generosity we so desperately need to see in our American sports heroes.''

Whether Stan gets the nod from President Obama or not, he’ll always be The Man to us here in St. Louis.

Stan Musial:

* Spent his entire 22-year Major League baseball career as a Cardinal, establishing a National League record for most seasons with one club

* Most Valuable Player in the National League: 1943, 1946, 1948

* Career batting average: .331. He won seven NL batting titles

* Hit five homeruns in a May 2, 1954, doubleheader vs. the New York Giants

* Played on World Series championship teams in 1942, 1944 and 1946 and the pennant-winner in 1943

* When he retired on Sept. 29, 1963, he was ranked first in NL history in hits (3,630) and home runs (475)

* His nickname grew out of unhappy Brooklyn Dodgers fans complaining about his hitting, as in: "Here comes 'that man' again.''

* Was Cardinals general manager for one season, 1967, when the team beat Boston in the World Series

* Recipient of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 1957 for exemplifying good character

* Named to Major League Baseball's All-Century team in 1999

* Appointed as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964

* Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969, his first year of eligibility

* Served as chairman of the Crippled Children's Society of St. Louis for 20 years and on boards of organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, the USO, Senior Olympics and Muscular Dystrophy Association

* Served as an unofficial ambassador of goodwill to Poland during the Cold War years. In the late 1980s, Musial, the son of a Polish immigrant, sent thousands of dollars worth of baseball equipment at his own expense to children in Kutno, Poland.

Source: The St. Louis Cardinals