Dear Sports Editor Marc Nesseler:|
A letter that I never wrote, about Stan Musial:
The news came on Saturday night. Now it is too late to write that letter to my only hero: Stan the Man Musial.I was afraid some young staffer would read it and laugh at the "schmaltziness" of it...
How I cried when I came home from school on Tuesday May 13,1958, to a note from Dad: Stan did it today. "It" was his 3,000th base hit, a pinch hit double to left in the seventh off Moe Drabowsky at Wrigley.
Or the tears I shed as I recorded his retirement ceremonies on my first tape recorder that Sunday Sept. 29, 1963
And the dislike I felt for Gary Kolb who simply pinch-ran for him after his last base hit that day.
Or the dislike I felt for manager Solly Hemus for benching him so much an entire season - only to have Stan come back and hit over .300 the next year.
Or the chills I felt as he walked by me after a game in 1978 as I stood frozen in that spot unable to call out to get his attention.
Or the pride I feel whenever I re-read his biography, especially the part about rejecting the Mexican League offers to remain with the Cardinals and the cheapest owner in baseball, Sam Breadon, out of loyalty.
And the smiles when I think of his accomplishments, one of which has never been duplicated: he hit a home run on his first at-bat after becoming a grandfather. It was number 401 and happened at Forbes Field after son Dickie and wife had their first child.
But most of all, I feel so much gratitude for being able to grow up during his playing days and seeing him play at old Busch Stadium on Grand and Dodier, at Wrigley, and at Milwaukee's County Stadium, where he was 2-for-4 off Warren Spahn that day.
And to be able to say I have a real hero: Stan the Man Musial. Yes, "here stands baseball's perfect warrior, here stands baseball's perfect knight."
Thanks for the memories Stan. Sorry I'm a bit late, but thank you for being The Man in every way.