One of the Christmas gifts I received was the recent biography, Stan Musial, by veteran sportswriter George Vecsey.
On the morning it was announced that the Holy Father had nominated me a cardinal, one of the journalists at the press conference in front of the Christmas crib in St. Patrick’s Cathedral asked if I had ever “wanted to be a cardinal.”
“Yes,” I readily replied. “When I was six years old. I wanted to be Stan Musial!”
Stan, of course, is one of the greatest baseball players ever, to this day the most renowned of my beloved hometown St. Louis Cardinals. He is “the Man.” As a kid, I idolized him.
In fact, one of the most memorable moments in my life came when I was ten. Dad, my brother, Bob, and I had gone to Lambert Airport in St. Louis to meet my grandma, just returning from a vacation up here to New York.
And who do we see walking through the huge terminal? “The Man!” “Dad,” I exclaimed. “Is that Stan?” He was so famous, a first name was all it took.
“It is!” Dad replied. “Go over and say hello.”
Sure enough, Bob and I did.
“Hi Stan,” we blurted out.
“The Man” looked at us. “Whaddaya say, sluggers?”
Never forgotten it. I was ten foot tall.
Anyway, the biography was enjoyable. I noticed, though, that a reviewer panned it, commenting that it was somewhat “boring,” since Stan’s life, while jam-packed with phenomenal baseball achievements, was free from scandal and controversy!
Alleluia! A great man! A superb athlete! Married seven decades to his beloved Lil; proud father; committed Catholic (he readily admits one of the highpoints of his life was getting to know his fellow Pole, Blessed John Paul II); never missed Sunday Mass; no steroids or drugs; no brawls, enemies, or DUI. Just a gentleman, day-in-day-out reliable, never complaining or demanding; no controversy or foul language.
And one of the best baseball players ever, an inspiration to generations, whose very name stands for integrity, professionalism, loyalty, and championship. If that’s “boring,” bottle it and sell it.
We need more Stan Musials. He makes me proud to be a “cardinal.”