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“Everyone I know in St. Louis has a ball signed by Stan”

Jan 19, 2013, 11:31 PM EDT

stan musial busch

I can’t claim to have known Stan Musial, who died this evening at the age of 92, and you’re sure to find far more thorough tributes to “The Man” in various other corners of the baseball media landscape.

But I figured I’d share some memories from the couple of times I was lucky enough to meet him.

I was a sophomore third-string catcher on the JV baseball team at St. Louis’ Chaminade College Prep in 2003 and our starting third baseman — a talented freshman with a very familiar batting stance named Andrew Edmonds — was one of Stan’s grandsons. Andrew of course wore No. 6, even when he eventually shifted his focus to ice hockey.

Stan would show up at Chaminade’s baseball field every few weeks, sit with his wife in matching lawn chairs just behind the backstop, and sign autographs for the duration of sloppy seven-inning high school games. I always felt bad that people were hounding him, but he never stopped shaking hands or scribbling away on different items except during his grandson’s plate appearances. St. Louis loved Stan and Stan loved St. Louis right back. It was an active mutual affection that seems likely to somehow remain.

I feel like everyone I know in St. Louis has a ball signed by Stan Musial. They spill loosely out of cabinets at my parents’ house and I keep one at my apartment that he signed for me personally. He told me not to put it in a case — “get it dirty” — so I usually keep it in my softball glove. It has a significantly different feel tonight.

source:

Stan knew his signature gave people joy so he signed everything. He was simple like that. Pure class.

  1. adeedothatswho - Jan 19, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Very cool. Stan really was the man.

  2. mnwildfan15 - Jan 19, 2013 at 11:59 PM

    Sad it’s all about the money now we will never see another like Stan the man

  3. raysfan1 - Jan 20, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    Sure, there are lots of other tributes out there,but I doubt there are any better. Thanks, Drew.

  4. yankeepunk3000 - Jan 20, 2013 at 3:02 AM

    man when I saw that ball in that glove it got me choked up…I remember when I had Paul laduca sign me a ball 12 years ago when I was a kid…I told him he was my favorite player and he said “no lie…well don’t I feel special”..that will always stick in my head and I siill have his ball in a case in my house now. Seeing your story just reminded me about it. and how these ball players mean a lot to is growing up more then people understand…its memories for ever.so.ething no one can take away from us. its beautiful. RIP Stan the man you did more then you realized

  5. kiwicricket - Jan 20, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    Nice story. Thanks, Drew.

  6. ghostofjimlindeman - Jan 20, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Stan helped create generations of Cardinal fans, your grandfather loved him, your father loved him, then it get’s passed down and you love him. He’s a hero to a lot of people, and not only for what he did on the field. Really was the perfect ball player.

  7. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 20, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    Love this quote by Posnanski on Musial back in his SI.com story:

    Robin Roberts, the late Hall of Fame pitcher, was once talking about a modern-day player he saw walk past a young boy who desperately wanted an autograph. Roberts was too polite to name the player, but he did not hide his contempt.

    “Now, to me, that’s one thing that really has changed,” Roberts said. “There’s so much money in the game now…. Players don’t see themselves as part of the crowd now. They’re separated. They’re big stars. I know it’s more of a business now. But I’ll tell you this: In our day you didn’t walk by a kid who wanted an autograph.”

    Then, Roberts shrugged: “I probably shouldn’t be so hard on the guy. I’m sure over the years I probably missed a few kids. I don’t remember doing it, but I’m sure I disappointed someone. None of us are perfect. We all disappointed someone from time to time. I guess. Well, all of us except one.”

    “Who was that?” I asked. Roberts looked at me with surprise, as if he thought the answer was obvious. Finally he answered.

    “Musial,” he said.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1172566/3/index.htm

    • raysfan1 - Jan 20, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      Great story, COPO, thanks for the link. I’m glad Pos wrote that story when he was still alive, and I hope he enjoyed it.

      One anecdote in the article reminded me of an experience I had. I was waiting for a friend near the practice fields by what is now known as Steinbrenner Field in Tampa before a spring training game. I had already bought a program and was watching the Yankees players practicing, when someone took the program out of my hands. I whipped around ready to confront the person…and found myself face to face with Joe Torre, who was autographing my program. I was never a Yankee fan, but that moment did cause me to have a lot of respect for him personally. He, of course, played for the Cardinals, and reading the story you linked–with the anecdote about Musial not only being willing to sign autographs when asked but also offering them at times when not asked–made me wonder if Torre may have learned that from him. It would be very cool if he did.

    • mazblast - Jan 20, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      Dang, copo, thanks for quoting that piece. That brings tears to my eyes, something which rarely happens.

  8. mybrunoblog - Jan 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Great story. I don’t have one baseball signed by Stan, I have two. Another quick story. Back in the early 1980s I sent Musial a letter with a SASE asking for an autograph. Musial signed the cards I’d sent and returned them in a few weeks. I still have the cards all these years later.

  9. mazblast - Jan 20, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Musial was a bright light in his own right and a reflection of the best fans in baseball– and I’m not nor have I ever been a Cardinals fan.

    I never met the man, never saw him play except on TV when I was very young, so I have only anecdotal evidence and the printed numbers for his greatness. Yet, he always seemed to be the guy almost everyone in the game respected above all others.

    The contrast between Stan The Man and the “greatest” player of my city of residence, a man whom I won’t name here but who won’t sign or do anything unless there’s money in it for himself, couldn’t be more stark.

  10. stex52 - Jan 20, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    We talk about the past greats here often. You see Ruth, Gehrig, Mays, Williams, Mantle, etc. But in my memory you don’t see Musial mentioned much. Is it the midwest thing? Or the fact that he was so self-effacing? I don’t know, but I am guilty of it, too.

    Recquiescat in pace, Mr. Musial. I got to see only a little at the end of your career. May I remember you more often when they are talking about the greats of the game.

  11. jrod2go - Jan 20, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    I met Stan while working one day. In my job at that time I met quite a few athletes and celebs. To keep things professional I never really got all “fannish” around them. But when I met Stan, he was 86 at the time, I said to him “Sir, I normally wouldn’t so anything like this but my Dad would want me to tell you that you are his Dad’s favorite baseball player ever. He had always said you were the greatest Cardinal to ever play the game. Just wanted you to know you’ve still got a really big fan out there in him”. He gave that typical Stan smile and thanked me and said how much that meant to him. But then he did something totally unexpected.

    Stan says to me “What’s your Dads name”?
    “It’s Don” I said
    Stan: “Don what”?
    Me: – I tell him his full name-
    Stan: “Well give me his address, I want to send him an autographed photo”.
    Me: “No, sir, really, thats real nice but I don’t want you to have to do that”.
    Stan: “No, really, I want to”.

    A little more than a week later an envelope shows up in the mail. My Dad opens it and can’t believe that he’s holding an autographed photo from Stan with a nice note inside too.

    Note: Don, I met your son (name) the other day. Hes a great kid. Thank you for being such a great fan. Please accept this photo as a token of my appreciation.

    Photo said: To Don, the greatest Stan fan, signed Stan Musial HOF

    It wasn’t until after he got the photo that I told him the story.

    Stan, you were loved and will be missed. I never saw you play but I know there will never be a player like you.

    • mazblast - Jan 20, 2013 at 8:10 PM

      Cool story, jrod. I wish I could have done something like that for my late father, but then, I rarely came into contact with major league players, let alone someone with Stan’s class.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jan 21, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      Your story choked me up Rod. Thanks for sharing.
      Now…no offense intended…I gotta’ get off this site.

  12. zurnvs - Jan 20, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    @jrod. Nice story, thanks

  13. stevedurbano - Jan 20, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    I work at a hospital where Stan was treated 20 some odd years ago. He carried cards with him so when people asked for a autograph he always had something to sign. Just a beautiful guy.

  14. jimatkins - Jan 20, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    This is amazing. We are all, all over the country, choked up over the passing of a player that retired before most of us were born, let alone become baseball fans. This is a long shadow cast on the world, to have this kind of an impact on the sport and the nation. What a man.

    • jimeejohnson - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      Agreed.

  15. umrguy42 - Jan 21, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    I never got to enough events when I was growing up in St. Louis to get something signed by Stan (or even see him in person, let alone say one word), and now I never will. And it makes me sad :(

    • umrguy42 - Jan 21, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      sadDER, I should say. Already sad.

  16. anxovies - Jan 22, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    My Father-in-Law knew him and had at least a dozen balls signed by Stan. We used to go to ballgames and went together to Musial’s and Biggies for lunch a lot when I still lived in St. Louis and there were usually ex-ballplayers there. Never saw Stan but I did see Bob Gibson walk by our table once. Watching him from behind I noticed that his right arm was easily 4 inches longer than his left. I guess throwing that hard does that.

  17. ljhatlga - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Hi, everybody,
    I sincerely appreciate the sharing I’ve read here. To experience the incredible power of such a benevolent soul as Stan Musial, to see the ripples generated by a guy who kept smiling, kept including us in his passion, and to watch those ripples regenerate, echo in your comments, is a real pleasure.
    On a day when I’m particularly weary of the whiners, the self-centered big-mouths, the attention-hungry ingrates, this thread is a welcome respite. Thanks!

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