Stan Musial: The Man
"That's no problem," he said. "We are members of the same sports club."
I forget what I said in the speech -- and the audience probably has long forgotten, too, -- but I will always remember having lunch with
Stan regaled me with baseball stories.
I asked him how it all began. He said when he was in high school during the Depression a baseball scout came to his hometown of
Musial said his father rejected the offer, telling the scout, "My son is going to college." Musial's father worked in a steel mill and never got a college education. Like most fathers, he wanted a better life for his son and believed college would be his ticket to success.
The scout left, but returned several weeks later to again ask that Stan be allowed to play professional baseball. He was rejected again. Musial says the scout then appealed to "a higher authority, my mother" and she agreed.
In 1938, Musial was signed as a pitcher to a professional baseball contract. I asked him how much they paid him. As I now recall it was about
After injuring his arm as a minor league player, Musial was moved to the outfield and then to first base where he began to hit the ball like few left-handers ever had. He became one of the greatest hitters in
If ever there was a sports role model, Stan was one. A World War II vet and family man, Musial played his entire career with the
President Obama touched on Musial's character when he presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in
In our celebrity culture where it doesn't matter why you're famous, only that you are famous, we don't focus enough on true achievement and the untarnished. Musial's contemporaries,
Sporting News quoted Hall of Fame president
On that one day in 2007, as I had lunch with my childhood hero, I was a kid again. For me, it was better than any politician I have met or dined with. He signed a baseball for me, for free. It sits encased on a shelf in my office.
In so many ways, on and off the field,
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- Stan Musial: The Man
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