Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stan Musial, R.I.P.

We do a lot of snark here about sports, and a lot of it is justified. Consider the outrageous sums of public money spent to maintain college and professional sports programs, the ridiculous behaviors of those engaged in the games as participants, management or media, and the general whackadoodle behaviors of us fan types, the field of sports is what you'd call a target-rich environment. There is so much bad faith, bad business, bad behavior and bad thought going around that there's material everywhere you turn.

So much so, really, that it's possible to lose track of the reasons we actually like this stuff. And there are reasons, good ones - the shared experience of watching your team succeed or fail, magnificent feats of athletic prowess and will, and occasionally, the transcendence of an individual athlete whose performance and behavior are both beyond reproach.

Stan Musial was one of those guys. Remarkable on the field - 24-time All Star, 3630 hits, .559 career slugging percentage, 475 home runs, you name it - he was by all accounts, as remarkable off it. "Everyone I know in St. Louis has a ball signed by Stan" said Hardball Talk's Drew Silva. Story after story about him cheerfully signing autographs for all who asked, not for profit but because he knew it meant something to those asking. 71 years of by what all accounts was a happy marriage to the same woman. His well-known penchant for unleashing his harmonica skills at the drop of a hat. His ability to bring people together, as witnessed by the crowds gathered to pay tribute at his statue last night.

God knows, there are bigger problems in the world. There are people dying every day whose nobility should be noted, whose contributions should have been shouted from the rooftops. But that does not change the fact that, within the rather narrow purviews of this blog, Stan the Man was one of the greats, and his was a life well worth celebrating.
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