Unlike other fans who are born a member of Cardinal Nation, I’m a relatively recent convert — joining in 2000. One of the best parts of my conversion, beyond enjoying the team’s success during the past 13 seasons, has been learning the rich and impressive history of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Which of course means learning more about you. And with your 92nd birthday coming up on Wednesday, I wanted to say thank you.
The numbers were the most obvious part to learn. Twenty-two year career, 24-time All Star. Three-time World Series champion. Three-time MVP. And 3,630 hits — with 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road. That perfect symmetry — what could be better?
Speaking of perfect, the trip to Busch Stadium in April 2000 that cemented my decision to become a Cardinals fan began — not surprisingly — at your statue. Seeing the inscription of the famous Ford Frick quote prompted me to scribble it down on a piece of paper in my purse … just in case I somehow would forget the words (which, of course, seems impossible).
A trip to the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2004 gave me a better education as to the type of man you are beyond the one who wore a Cardinals uniform. Seeing the awards, the memorabilia, the letters — it was a rich trip through the legacy that truly makes you The Man.
Actually having the chance to see you in your prime, though only through video now, enhances what I’ve read and the stories I’ve heard. That smile — perfection as well.
Speaking of, there was no more glorious moment for me than watching the game on Oct. 2, 2010 — the “Stand for Stan” Day at Busch Stadium. Although I was at home, I too was standing, with tears streaming down my face the entire time — as they were again when I watched this clip. The joy, the energy and the respect (especially from the Rockies) — truly amazing.
As was seeing you receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As was experiencing firsthand the wave of love and gratitude that’s at Busch Stadium whenever you are there, which happened for me on Opening Day 2012.
Thank you, Stan, for everything that you are. And there are no better words to conclude with than these from Bob Costas, which Bernie Miklasz included in a Feb. 15, 2011, column about you receiving the Medal of Freedom:
“There’s no perfect human being, but I have not come across anyone in sports who was closer to the image, in reality, than Stan Musial is. Who has ever emanated more decency than Stan Musial does? If you saw him play, you could always feel good about cheering him. And if you didn’t see him play, you can still feel good about admiring him to this day.”
To baseball’s perfect warrior, to baseball’s perfect knight, the happiest and healthiest of birthdays as you turn 92.
With admiration and best wishes,
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.