Memories of 'The Man,' a Baseball Glove and a Harmonica
An impromptu tune left a lasting memory of Stan "The Man" Musial.
I never met Stan Musial, but my first baseball glove bore his name. I remember it well because all of his numerous Major League baseball records were recorded on the box the glove came in. I needed a new glove because I was joining my first baseball team as a grade schooler. I was as proud on that ball glove as I was of being asked by a little league manager who happened to be at Ritenour High School practicing with his team. He saw me playing Indian ball with my friends and came over and asked if I would like to join his organized team. Since I lived so close to the school we went to my house and I asked my parents about playing for Don King's ABC League team. Bonus: King owned the Overland Dairy Queen.
Later in life, after becoming a journalist, I had a part-time gig as the editor of a local golf magazine, my first love in sports. I was able to rub shoulders with golf professionals in eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois and was fortunate to be able to play on many of St. Louis' premiere golf courses. One of those was Annbriar Golf Course in Waterloo, IL. I was at a grand opening Media Day in the early 1990s when the course received a tryout by the hackers who make up the local media and local professional sports teams. Several Cardinals and Blues players were in attendance.
After the round of golf, everyone congregated in Annbriar's large grille and mingled with the various notables in the room. Seated off to one side were three legends in Cardinals' history - Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog and Stan Musial.
It wasn't too long before Musial pulled a harmonica from his pocket and led the room in a rendition of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." At the end, he giggled and smiled and was clearly in his element. I never had an opportunity to speak with "the Man" that day, but being in his presence, being witness to his easy demeanor and feeling the love the whole room had for him, truly was a life highlight. My only regret is that I didn't have a camera, but the image of Stan and the harmonica performance forever will be burned into my memory.
It was sad to hear of his passing Saturday, and although he was not a native to St. Louis, Stan Musial is, in my opinion, the greatest St. Louisan there ever was.