"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Jump Start

From his fine collection, Sometimes They Even Shook Your Hand, here is John Schulian on Stan the Man:

Of all the heroes I encountered, though, the one who best fit the description was Stan Musial, who managed to be a regular guy even with a statue of him standing outside old Busch Stadium, just as it does now in front of new Busch. In 1982, with the Cardinals on their way to the World Series, it seemed fitting that I should write about him. We met at the restaurant that bore his name, and as soon as I mentioned an obscure teammate of his—Eddie Kazak, a third baseman in the forties—it was like we were old friends.

When I finally ran out of questions, Musial offered to drive me back to my hotel. We made our way through the restaurant’s kitchen, pausing every few steps so he could say hello to a cook or slap a dishwasher on the shoulder. At last we reached the small parking lot in back. The only other people in sight were two teenaged boys with long faces. Musial was unlocking his Cadillac when one of them said, “Hey, mister, you got any jumper cables? Our car won’t start.”

“Lemme see, lemme see,” Musial said. He repeated himself a lot that way. It only added to his charm.

He opened his trunk and started rooting around, pulling out golf clubs, moving aside bags and boxes until, at last, he found his cables. By then, however, I was more interested in watching the boys. One of them was whispering something to his buddy and I could read his lips: “Do you know who that is? That’s Stan Musial.”

The statue in front of the ballpark had come to life.


1 thelarmis   ~  Jan 22, 2013 12:59 pm

this guy just rules. and keeps getting better and better!

2 garydsimms   ~  Jan 22, 2013 3:20 pm

Kind of strange that when we talk about the top 10 GOAT, or even top 25, his name often gets left out. Because he played in ST. Louis? Because he was not a "character?" He had a higher lifetime WAR than Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Mantle, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson or Jimmie Foxx.

3 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 22, 2013 3:58 pm

2) I think that's right, though at this point, at least for baseball fans, he's been "neglected" so much that I'm not sure he's neglected at all any longer. Ditto Frank Robinson. They just weren't as charismatic as some of their contemporaries. And let's face it, Musial was boring and he didn't play in New York, L.A. or Boston. So he wasn't a hyped persona. He was an aww shucks nice guy who played the harmonica.

4 thelarmis   ~  Jan 22, 2013 4:21 pm

[2] i was going to mention this in my comment, as well.

[3] yeah, it's like in the hard bop jazz world: Hank Mobley has been called "underrated" so much for so long, that he's not really underrated anymore : )

5 RagingTartabull   ~  Jan 22, 2013 4:57 pm

has anyone read George Vecsey's bio of him? Thinking of picking it up, but outside of his greatness is there anything that interesting there?

Let's face it: the headcases (Joe D., Mickey, Ted) make for better reading material.

6 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jan 23, 2013 7:35 am

[5] Agreed. Outside his all-time great baseball talent, probably not too much to read about.
[4] Mobley!! Still makes me sad to think of how he ended up.

7 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 23, 2013 11:16 am

5) The Musial book is a good enough read but no, outside of his baseball greatness there isn't much that is dramatic about his life.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver