An Inspiration to Generations

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!

Stan Musial

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.”

24 Responses to “An Inspiration to Generations”

  1. Mark Maher says:

    Your Emenence, what an uplifting story! As a fan of baseball and YOU, I shared this story with our Vicar General, Msgr Benwell, here at the Diocese of Metuchen. He and I are both huge baseball fans!
    Thank you for sharing! Many prayers for you!
    God Bless,
    Mark Maher, Memorial Counselor, Diocese of Metuche Cemeteries Office

  2. Karen fromm says:

    Congratulations, Your Excellency! I knew this was coming…great story about “the Man”. Thank you…

    It’s cold in Wisconsin…..

  3. Jeanne Hodge Degler says:

    Cardinal Dolan, when you were first named a Cardinal, you mentioned wanting to be ‘a Cardinal, Stan Musial”. I told my husband, Ward Degler, and he’d like to send you a copy of his recently published book, “The Dark Ages of My Youth: and Times More Recent”. Much of his youth was spent in Missouri and he has a human interest article about Stan Musial in the book.: Charlie Barnes Met Stan Musial. If you lived in Missouri for a while, you may enjoy other stories, about the rivers, and all. There are 151 five minute reads I think you would enjoy. Best regards, Jeanne and Ward Degler

  4. Cathy Hayden says:

    What a wonderful homily – and not just because I’m a St. Louisan and share your fondness for “the man”. He really is someone to be admired and emulate. So glad to see that we will have a new “Cardinal” to emulate – even though he lives in New York!

    God’s Peace and Joy,
    Cathy Hayden
    Des Peres, Missouri

  5. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    Lord knows we can use many more Catholic MEN like Stan. Men have abandoned our Church. Men like Stan Musial could bring them back.

    One of the biggest problems in the American Church is the shortage of men – real Catholic men.

    I pray our new Cardinal will make this a priority.

  6. Maggie McDaniel says:

    Now people are saying the same thing about you, an inspiration to all. God bless you!

  7. Linda says:

    Archbishop Dolan,
    You’re amazing, I couldn’t be more proud to say that I’m from St. Louis, Missouri, home of the World Champion Cardinals and soon to be Cardinal Dolan.
    May God continue to bless you and remember us all in St. Louis when you receive your Red Hat.

    Linda Hoefl
    St. Martin of Tours- Lemay, Mo.

  8. Mary Hoffman says:

    Now St. Louis has two Cardinals, two good men who make us proud. God bless you, Father Tim, and God bless Stan.

  9. Bruce P Johnson says:

    Thank you for sharing your youth and info on a great role model in sports.

  10. Theresa Dowd says:

    My dad met Stan back in the 50′s in Omaha at a restaurant. People evidently didn’t recognize him but my dad sure did! He went over and just wanted to say hello, but Stan offered him a seat and they visited for a while. It was a highlight in my dad’s life. I didn’t know that Musial was such a good Catholic, and this makes me happy to learn it!

  11. Tiffany says:

    Bottle it and sell it, indeed! Great post!

  12. It is a sad commentary on the day and age we live in, isn’t it, when a life free of scandal and controversy is considered “boring?” Well, then… I hope to live a VERY “boring” life and, if blessed one day with the gift of a son, I pray that he will choose such amazing men as role models in his life! : )

  13. Fran DeVitta says:

    AMEN. We sure could use a “million” of these boring guys playing our favorite pass time. I like what you said to David on ETWN when you showed him your new “red soxs”. Being a St. Louis fan you can wear them proudly as a Cardinal (fan).

    God Bless !!

  14. Father Louis Jerome says:

    another great article Archbishop Dolan- You don’t mind if I “steal” from you often. (Giving you the credit of course!) Father Jerome

  15. Rev. Thomas Extejt says:

    The second greatest day in the history of St. Hyacinth Grade School (Toledo OH) was when Stan Musial hit 5 home runs in a double header at Ebbets Field (around Memorial Day in 1954 (I think)). The greatest day was when Bill Mazeroski hit one home run to win Game 7 of the 1960 Series, and beat you-know-who. Seriously, there is much more to Stan the Man besides a bunch of hitting records.

  16. This made my day!!!!! Truely a good man with good values. God Bless Stan and God Bless the CARDINALS

  17. Thank you, Archbishop Dolan, for holding up for us a man of integrity. Our society desperately needs to recover that fundamental sense of decency lived by Musial.

    P.S., keep up the exercise and healthy living! I’m on a doctor guided program of exercise and dietary refinement and I’m feeling great! Hour long walks with rosary in hand works for me.

  18. James Hooper says:

    Cardinal Dolan,

    Hello from St. Louis, the capitol of Cardinal Nation. Stan the Man is revered here, so I am sure my fellow St. Louisians appreciate your blog entry as much as I do. Go Cards!

    I wanted to say congratulations on your becoming Cardinal. You are a tremendous blessing and the bold leader that we need right now. I am so concerned about the direction of our country and pray that the Holy Spirit is always with you and others lead us into the future!

    May God’s Blessings Always be with you!
    James Hooper

  19. Jerilyn Francis says:

    I very much appreciate your story. I think most people have lost sight of those great men who work hard, raise and support their families day in and day out… and honor God in doing so. Our society has gotten too far form this kind of “idol”.

  20. When I was a seminarian at Kenrick-Glennon a few years back, “Stan the Man” came to Sunday morning Mass at the seminary one week and joined us for brunch afterwards. I approached him and asked if I could have an autograph as my brother, who’s a huge baseball fan, would love one. He pulled three pre-signed pictures out of his breast-pocket and said, “here, take a few”. I thanked him and went away beaming. A class act all the way.

  21. Shirley Ducey says:

    First, thanks for your Christmas greeting sent to Mary and me. It went to Orlando, where I come and go and my daughter, Barbara, opened it and then told me about it. I am not able to go this winter because of some medical problems.

    Barbara was in N.Y. recently on business and visited St. Patrick’s. She went to Mass and heard a homily on voting and LIFE! She was so thrilled, she stayed for another Mass. I told her she should have asked for you (is that possible?), but, of course, she didn’t.

    I want you to know that my family, and my Birthright family, pray for you every day – especially proud, not only being a Cardinal, but standing up to our government. God Bless you and we ask that He give you the courage to continue the good fight and the stamina to do so.

    Wish I could go to Rome. Most sincerely in Life, Shirley Ducey, St. Charles, MO

    P.S. Loved your remarks about Stan Musial. Until now, HE was my favorite Cardinal!

  22. Elizabeth Gregorek says:

    Nice story, I am a baseball fan and have children who also love the game.

  23. Patricia Hermelink (Higginbotham) says:

    Never understood “the man” part, but now I do. Thanks Archbishop Dolan. Love hearing positive and uplifting stories. :)

  24. Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz says:

    I can only imagine, Your Soon-To-Be Eminence, that if Stan Musiel were alive today, he would be thrilled to know that he met a future Roman Catholic Cardinal in Lambert Airport.