I remember the last time I saw Stan Musial. I was entering the park for Game 3 of the N.L.C.S. this past year and as I walked from the outside ring of Busch to the inner portion of the park I could see everyone on their feet. I thought to myself instantly: Stan must be in the park. And sure enough, I looked down onto the field to see the greatest Cardinal of all time riding around on the field in his cart. My attention turned to the big screen, which was showing a closeup of Mr. Musial. He wore an entirely genuine smile that suggested one thing: Stan Musial lived St. Louis Cardinals baseball. He was the St. Louis Cardinals. He is the greatest Cardinal ever statistically, but he will also, and more importantly, be the greatest Cardinal ever as a person.
Obviously, I never saw him play. But I think that allows me to witness, or even experience, his impact off the field more so. When I read that Stan passed away I was floored. Shocked. Stunned. And more than anything, incredibly saddened. All for a man I had never seen play, never met, never really even heard speak. And I think this, more than anything, speaks to what Stan Musial represented. He was the representation of everything good in St. Louis; of those ‘Good Ole Days’. This is what Albert Pujols could have been. This is what Mark McGwire would have been, if it weren’t for the PED’s. But there is only one Stan Musial. I’m not saying Albert and Mark are bad people, don’t get me wrong, but Stan was just better. He was better than everyone. That’s why he was THE Man. It’s not easy to be as flawless as he was. No scandals, no controversy, nothing. Just raw talent, a sense of humor, and a fulfilled life.
Stan will be missed, no doubt. But he had the insight to leave behind a legacy that will never be forgotten as long as the St. Louis Cardinals exist. He will forever be the greatest Cardinal ever, as well as one of the best players ever in the history of the MLB. Jayson Stark of ESPN ranked him as the fourth best player ever to play the game. He was magnificent, untouchable, undefendable. He was The Man.