Death of a Hero
Added: Thu. Jan 24, 2013 10:56am
Posted in: Baseball
When you think back over your life, isn't it strange the things you remember? What is it that leaves seemingly trivial things so fresh in your mind, and other important events lost in the fog? Why do some things have a life-lasting impact and others don't?
Do you remember the first autograph you ever got? I was just four years old but remember it like it was yesterday. My parents were going to dinner at Stan and Biggie's and I was NOT going to let them leave me at home! Not when there would be a chance I could actually meet Stan 'The Man.' Even at four, I was in awe. It was the early '60s back when little boys had heroes. And on this night, I was determined to meet mine.
If you've ever been to Walt Disney World you've seen this happen. Kids who moments before were clamoring to meet Mickey Mouse suddenly stand frozen in fear, transfixed in terror when face to face with a five-foot physical manifestation of their imaginary ideal. Things are never the same in your head as they are in real life, are they?
Well, there I stood, face to face with Stan 'The Man.' He stuck out that huge right hand, and I stood there paralyzed! Just then, he burst into a huge smile, started to laugh, reached over and picked me up! Well, I burst into laughter, too. I don't know if you put much stock in intuition, but I think you can tell when someone is the real deal. I felt like I was playing, not with a baseball legend, but with Uncle Stan. And more important, I had this silly feeling that Uncle Stan was just as happy to meet me!
Maybe that was the moment of impact. Maybe that's why it's so clear in my mind to this day. Maybe that's what made Stan Musial so different. I've gotten lots of autographs. I've met lots of famous athletes and celebrities, but Stan had a way of making you feel like it was just as much fun for him to meet you. As much as people in St. Louis love the Cardinals, and EVERYBODY in St. Louis loves the Cardinals, no Cardinal was ever loved more than Stan Musial.
We live in an era of insecurity, materialism and celebrity. The emblem on your car and the designer of your clothes mean way more than your character and your integrity.
Stan Musial was a reminder that there is another way. A genuine way. A way that converts an event, into a lifelong memory. Without the spotlight, without fanfare and without publicity, Stan Musial gave out more lifelong memories than anybody. How about that? Another category where he leads the league!
Musial was one of the greatest baseball players ever to live. Yet, he is often overlooked and greatly under-appreciated. He never really had a signature moment on the field, no walk-off home run to win a series, no Shot Heard Round the World, no love affairs with Hollywood Starlets, no extravagant lifestyle. He never wanted more than he had. Being Stan Musial was more than enough.
Stan died at 92. It was nice to see his name in the paper and watch some of the TV specials after his death. Maybe in death he'll get his due that was lacking in life. But regardless of where people rank him as a baseball player, there is little doubt that he was one of the greatest humans to ever play the game. His nickname says it all. Thank you, Stan 'The Man,' from that little four year old boy who will never forget.