It’s been a week since St. Louis (and the Baseball World) lost Stan “the Man” Musial. I told Russ when I found out that I wasn’t surprised (his health had been going south for a while) but I was in shock. A week later, and it’s still a little surreal.
Russ did a good job already looking at what Stan meant to baseball. I’m going to tell everyone what he meant to St. Louis.
Stan is the greatest player to play in St. Louis, hands down. Many here would argue he’s one of the most underrated players in baseball history. His reach didn’t just include baseball; he stayed in St. Louis and had been part of the community. Stan the Man Inc. is based here and he’d go into their office on a weekly basis to sign autograph requests.
This story pretty much sums up Stan. I was speaking with an autograph collector around the All Star game in 2009 and he told me about a Stan experience. The guy was from out of town and was getting the full autograph treatment. On the Monday of the festivities, he went to Stan the Man Inc because he heard that was the day that Stan goes in. When he arrived, Stan greeted him and they sat and talked baseball for 2 hours. As the collector thanked him for the experience, Stan reached over, grabbed a baseball, and signed it. The collector didn’t ask for the autograph, but Stan enjoyed the opportunity to talk baseball so much that he gave him an autograph as a thank you.
Stories like that could flood the site about Stan. The fact that his family decided to hold a public service for the great shows they know how important he was to St. Louis. Look at the St. Louis Blues; for their next game, all of the Blues players will be wearing #6 practice jerseys to honor him. Normally that is reserved for the team he played for; on rare occurrences, it’s for the full sport. It’s unheard of for a player to be honored by a different sport.
I’m still a little upset with the Cardinals for their lack of acknowledgement of Musial at the All Star Game. Yes they had a very quick ceremony, but if you blinked, you would have missed it. Instead we got 15 minutes on the Stars Among Us. I love charity, but Boston spent a good amount of time 10 years earlier honoring Ted Williams. The Cardinals needed to do the same thing.
Things will change this season. What will it be like on opening day when the living Hall of Famers come out and he’s not there? It’ll be the first time in my life time that Stan won’t be there with his red blazer to start the Cardinals home season.
Opening Day won’t have Stan there physically, but you know his presense will be felt. I’m expecting him to be honored. Not just a moment of silence, but some ceremony. I’d like to see an “SM6″ patch worn for the full season. I could see the city making his birthday Stan Musial day (if they haven’t already done it).
The town might not have another player like this either. In today’s game, having a player completely loyal to a city is rare. Jeter might be the last of the breed (we’ll know for sure in a year). Too many players see the greener pastures and run.
This is where the Pujols connection comes in. “El Hombre” had to of seen the reception of “The Man” got when he passed and realized he gave up something great when he left for Los Angeles. Pujols still lives in St. Louis, so he most like saw the news reports of the “shrine” and the upset fans and the retrospectives on Musial’s career.
He could have had the same thing. Musial was a baseball god in town, and Pujols was on track to be the same way. Even if his numbers continually decreased over the course of his career, Pujols would have been forever linked with Musial as the greatest Cardinal based off the first 10 years of his amazing career. Now that he’s got the Halo on his hat, his name has lost the luster that it once had.
Now, he’s just another good player in Kobe’s city.
And this is the saddest thing about Pujols leaving. Not achieving milestones in another uniform. Not the personal service clause with the Angels for after his career. It’s not celebrating Pujols as one of the greatest player in Cardinals history.