Stan Musial…You will be missed, yet remembered dearly

In light of Baseball’s Perfect Knight leaving this earth and headed to the real “Field of Dreams”, I am doing something I have not done before…re-posting a blog from a couple years ago.  Stan, you will be missed but always remembered.

1963

No, that is not the year I was born.  That would be double nickel. (’55)

1963 is the year my Dad introduced me to baseball.   St Louis Cardinals baseball to be exact.   My first glove…still have it.  My first baseball team I played on…played second base.  My first Cardinal game…Cardinals versus the Dodgers…Gibson against Richert.  And my first introduction to “the Man”, Stan Musial.

I can remember,clear as a bell, sitting down with my Dad as we”reviewed the Cardinals.”  We would pour over the Post Dispatch Sports section and he would review the players, games, batting order and “stuff”.  Boyer.  McCarver.  White.  Flood.  Groat.  Gibby.  And then along came Stan.  I would even start to cut out the articles in the paper about the Cardinals and paste them into a scrapbook.

All the while we would “talk” about the Cardinals (okay, I was just about 7.5 -8 years old, and didn’t do too much of the talking but this was a Dad ‘n Lad type of talk…just being together was what mattered) the topic always came back around to talking about Stan “the Man” Musial.  At the time, it seemed to this young lad that my Dad was really impressed with this Stan guy.  So I paid attention…and Dad kept talking about him.  I learned about his MVP Awards, his 3,000th hit, the 5 home runs in one day…even why he was “the Man”…then I soon learned about his retirement.

Although I had a hard time understanding what “retirement” really meant, I could tell it was something serious by the way my Dad reacted to it…alot of additions to the scrapbook.

I remember Mom and Dad having a discussion about getting tickets to Stan’s last game.  Mom didn’t seem too excited about it, but Dad insisted.  I recall him telling Mom that, “this type of thing doesn’t happen often and I want my son to experience it”. (I think Dad may have wanted to experience it also…wink-wink) Dad had some kind of a “connection” at a Tavern across the street from the old “Sportsman Park”…and he said he could get tickets there.

And he did.

I remember the details from that game, and the pre-game ceremony, and my thoughts during the game, just like it was yesterday…and I smile every time it crosses my mind.

That must have been a sacrifice for my folks.  It was a “vacation”, of sorts…and we didn’t take “vacations”!

As the years have passed, I understand the sacrifices they made.

I have also understood, no, I have appreciated why they call Stan Musial, “the  Man”.  Aside from the Brooklyn fans saying in “mock disgust”, here comes that Man again…he has always been  “the Man”. (sorry Albert, you will just need to get comfortable in the back seat…you ain’t goin’ nowhere soon…and “El Hombre” doesn’t count, amigo)

If you are a baseball fan in St Louis, and you have had a few years on you (like me) there is a good chance you have a “Stan” story.  Many of us do.  And it is just as likely that it is a good one.  One that shows why he is “the Man”.  One that illustrates his kindness…his love for the fans…his love for the city and the St Louis Cardinals.

I do.  But that is not for now. (actually I have a couple).

If you are not from St Louis, do not live in St Louis, or are a baseball fan with a favorite team other than the Cardinals, please forgive me…but “this really is baseball Heaven”.  And Stan is sitting atop of it all, riding high and making us proud.  (I am sure most of you have by now read/heard about Stan receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Obama)

“Time Begins on Opening Day” in St Louis.  Downtown St. Louis becomes a “Sea of Red”.  Local Politicians have lobbied to make Opening Day a “City Holiday”…just so all of the employees would not need to call in sick for the day…with the “red” flu.  And Stan, along with the rest of the St Louis Cardinal Hall of Famers will be there.  So will some of the other Cardinal stars.  But no star will shine brighter than Stan’s.  For years he threw out the ceremonial “first pitch”.  He has also entertained us with a version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, which he played on the harmonica!  Lately, all he has to do is show up, smile and wave to the fans…we don’t need more.

We have “the Man”.

So, in honor of “the Man”, the Cardinals and Opening Day, I thought I would dedicate a special cocktail.  One that has a unique reason for including each ingredient.  And that reason is fitting for Stan.  The cocktail of the week…is a tribute to him, Stan Musial…

Stan “the Man-hattan

  • 2 ounces of Buffalo Trace bourbon(bourbon is a classic American liquor, just as Stan is a classic American.  When a Buffalo goes through your city, you know it.  And when Stan was in town, everyone knew about it…especially the opposing teams!)
  • 1 ounce Lillet Blanc (Lillet Blanc is the perfect complement to the bourbon, just as Lilly is Stan’s perfect compliment…his wife)
  • .75 ounces of Luxardo Maraschino liquor(This gives the drink a little sweet taste, just like Stan’s sweet and consistent swing from the plate gave the Cardinals many hits and runs.)
  • .5 teaspoon of Absinthe(Absinthe has been reported to have hallucinogenic effects on people, just like Stan’s awkward stance was reported to stymie opposing pitchers…not sure if either is true, but rumors abound.)
  • 3-4 dashes of Angostura bitters(this matches the bitterness of the East Coast sportswriters who can not understand how a player from St Louis could be so damn good!)
  • Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well.

I like this “on the rocks” but it can also be served “straight up” if it suits your taste.

And this Opening Day week-end, if you happen to be at Monarch restaurant in St Louis, ask TJ, who will be tending bar this Saturday, to fix you a Stan “the Man-hattan”.  Perhaps you will be celebrating a few Cardinal victories!  You might take this time to enjoy and celebrate life.  Or maybe just celebrating time with someone special in your life…someone important…someone you love.

Stan has provided a lot of wonderful memories to myself and many others.  So have the St Louis Cardinals.  And so has baseball.

But those memories, as great as they are, pale in comparison to the memories created by a Father and Son spending time together…just talkin’ baseball.  Quality time, yes.  But spending time with your Pops is a good thing, regardless.

If yours is still with you, or your mom, make the effort to spend time with them.  Doesn’t matter what you do.  I am sure they will feel the same way.

Cheers! And Play Ball!

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Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I spent a little time with Stan Musial when I was working on the 1980 presidential campaign-we did several events at his Stan Musial and Biggie’s Restaurant. He is one of the most gracious and unassuming people I have ever met, and I still have the autographed baseball he gave me. I heard that some folks used to give him grief for signing and giving away baseballs instead of selling his signature at sports memorabilia events, but he didn’t care. Back then, I saw stacks of boxed baseballs in his office-I am sure he ordered them by the case! Some of today’s hotdog ballplayers would be wise to be a little more like him. A Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Shaefering-concocted cocktail-whew.

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    • Gail, thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts. But also for taking the time out of your day to read what I wrote. I guess I could thank you for more…and I do, my friend. It has been a long time, but the memories remain fresh.

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  2. Reblogged this on Pull Up A Chair and commented:

    In light of Baseball’s Perfect Knight leaving this earth and headed to the real “Field of Dreams”, I am doing something I have not done before…re-posting a blog from a couple years ago. Stan, you will be missed but always remembered.

    Like

  3. Though it has been days since Stan’s passing, it is still on my own Pop’s mind. He isn’t electronically/technologically connected, but I am planning on sharing your post . . . via printed paper. It’s a good one.

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    • Thanks Deb. and please tell him hello from me and my mom. I think Stan had that kind of impact on a lot of people. He made “no bodies feel like some bodies”.

      Like


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