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Stan Musial to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Nov 17, 2010, 3:28 PM EDT

Stan Musial

Word to The Man:

Post-Dispatch sources in Washington confirmed that Musial will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the White House. Musial will join other baseball greats who have won the award like Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Ted Williams. The award recipients are selected by the sitting president.

And some of you hate Obama.

This is really cool.  It arises in large part due to a grassroots campaign, but even if no one had ever made a peep about it, Musial would be a worthy recipient. Not just because he was one of the most fantastic baseball players who has ever lived, but also because he, more than just about anyone, stands for the notion that a sports figure can be a role model, even if we are increasingly inclined to reject that notion. He has always been reported to be kind, decent, caring, hard working and all of the other things we wish athletes were, but usually aren’t due to their being, you know, human beings. He has given back to his community.  He may truly be the last untarnished icon in baseball history. We’re just not in that business anymore. Him. Aaron maybe.  Everyone else is either a bit tarnished or not an icon.

I had one brief interaction with Musial when I was a kid. It was at a memorabilia show where he was signing. My dad knew the guy running the show, so I got in early and was there when Musial showed up.  When he arrived — by himself, after having driven in, not with any handlers — someone asked him if he wanted anything. Nope, I’m good, he said, don’t trouble yourself. Then he set up the table and chair where he’d be signing himself, got himself a Pepsi from a vending machine and then hung around and talked to my brother and I for a bit while waiting for the autograph-seekers to arrive.  The guy was like your grandpa. The nice one.

I don’t know if that kind of thing earns you a Presidential Medal of Freedom, but it sure as hell can’t hurt.  Congratulations Stan the Man.

  1. Jonny 5 - Nov 17, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    “Hate” is such a strong word. But it’s probably true. The color wars were around long before the Bloods and Cryps.

    Hats off to Stan for being one good dude.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 17, 2010 at 4:33 PM

      WEST SIDE! Thug life bitch! Goin’ out like that…

  2. zman801 - Nov 17, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    Back in the late 60′s I was a caddy at a country club in St. Louis where Musial was a member. He always took a cart and did not use a caddy but would bring a “spotter”. The fee for 18 holes was $1.75 per cart. Stan would always insist on a different spotter for his cart so most of the caddies had a chance at a round. While he was a great baseball player, he had a vicious hook when he would golf. Typically, he would send one deep into the woods that could not be retrieved; but, if you offered him any other ball as a replacement, no matter the condition, your $1.75 escalated to $10.00. I will always remember that round and by the way, I beleive he had Lou Brock as a guest at this country club, who most probably was the first African American to play on the course. In my estimation this award has certainly been earned.

    • chewbaccastl - Nov 17, 2010 at 5:46 PM

      I caddied for Stan at Bellerive in the late ’90s. His playing partner was legendary broadcaster Jack Buck. Both were so incredibly gracious and fun. I don’t remember much specifically about our conversation during the round but I do remember thinking, at age 13, that this would be a moment I would one day tell my children about. I left with a big tip, a signed ball and an afternoon I’ll always remember.

  3. Old Gator - Nov 17, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    Isn’t it a little late to offer Musial this award? I mean, wouldn’t he have appreciated it a bit more if he weren’t dead?

    • thoran85 - Nov 17, 2010 at 6:44 PM

      Stan Musial is very much still alive.

    • jjschiller - Nov 17, 2010 at 6:44 PM

      Uh… Dude..

    • Utley's Hair - Nov 17, 2010 at 6:53 PM

      Well, he’s 90 on Sunday, but he is alive. I just hope this wasn’t a surprise to him, ’cause, ya know…

    • bigdicktater - Nov 17, 2010 at 7:59 PM

      Are you trying to be funny? That’s sick. Ignorant. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Try to be half the man that Stan Musial is.

      • jasonc2300 - Nov 17, 2010 at 8:28 PM

        Says the guy with the handle bigdicktater.

      • Old Gator - Nov 17, 2010 at 10:26 PM

        Damn. Reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. And frankly, I know that it’s declasse to denigrate someone’s race, ethnic background or sexual orientation, but I didn’t know folks were getting so sensitive about their ontic status. Can you imagine what making “dead” a politically incorrect adjective would mean? “Dead ball” would become “formerly live ball,” “dead battery” would become “inert battery” and “Grateful Dead” would become “Grateful Questionable Ontic Status.” And what would we call vampires – the un-formerly-alive? And how about “deadly,” as in “the bite of the gray wolf spider can be formerlyalively”? And what do we call Norman Bates’ mother now? Ah, yes – Mrs. Bates. Silly me.

        You see the problem? I am happy to find out that Stan Musial is still alive. Aside from being delighted on general principle, that means you can pin a medal on him without having to dig him up, like Dante Gabriel Rosetti had to dig his wife up to get his poetry back.

  4. scottwil - Nov 17, 2010 at 7:26 PM

    Unfortunately, a lot of younger BB fans don’t know who this is. There’s so much hype and holler by the PR/media about particular records that the careers of some all-time greats don’t get mentioned much; Willie Mays is another one. Not on top in any particular high profile stat.
    Phenomenal career by Stan the Man in BB’s Golden Era with DiMaggio in NY, Williams in Boston, Feller in Cleveland, J. Robinson in Brooklyn, Berra & Mantle in NY, Aaron in Milwaukee, F. Robinson in Cincinnati, Clemente in Pittsburgh, Koufax & Drysdale in LA. Great time. Pure Americana.

  5. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Nov 17, 2010 at 11:23 PM

    The story goes that when the Dodgers came to town with Jackie Robinson, many of the Cardinal players were talking about refusing to the play the game. St. Louis was the most southern town in MLB and had many fans in the south. Musial stand up and said he was playing and that put an end to it.

  6. hasbeen5 - Nov 18, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    If you haven’t yet, I suggest reading Posnanski’s article on Musial from SI a couple months ago. I’m pretty young so I never saw him play. I knew he had been one of the best but the article left me with a new appreciation.

  7. hasbeen5 - Nov 18, 2010 at 8:22 AM

    Also, Obama could do right by baseball for the rest of his time in office and it still wouldn’t be enough to make up for the first “pitches.”

  8. cintiphil - Nov 18, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    I don’t know why he wasn’t selected, but he was deserving of this 20 or more years ago. When he came to town, Cinti. suffered greatly from his bat and glove. He was one of the three or four greatest players I have ever seen play, and that is a lot of them. Besides that, his reputation for being a good guy stands alone among all players. You bozo’s who wish to make jokes are all losers. No one who ever played in Cinti. can match his performance.

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