Memories of “Stan the Man”

By: 
Ralph Voss

There is so much to talk about this week, I really don’t know where to start.

I’m going to begin with Stan Musial. I’ve always been a huge Musial fan. If you grew up in the Midwest in the 1940s and 1950s, you’d understand. 

For 154 games a year (that’s how many games there were in that period) KMOX radio in St. Louis and KWOS in Jeff City (and a host of other stations) brought us Harry Caray broadcasting Cardinals baseball as no one else could. We didn’t have a television and we didn’t need one. Harry was that good. But he had a great subject to talk about. People couldn’t get enough of Musial.

It wasn’t just kids like me from Missouri. Most people are unaware that for decades the Cardinals operated out of the city that was the farthest west and south of any major league city. They were America’s team in part for geographical reasons, but there was more to it. America fell in love with Dizzy Dean’s Gas House Gang of the 1920s and 30s. In the Great Depression they were an inspiration to the nation. 

The late Margaret Fick told a wonderful story about baseball. Margaret, who would be in her 80s if she were alive, was one of my favorite people. She had two older brothers, Joe and Art, who are also deceased. The boys were Cardinal fanatics. They wanted to listen to every game, but they had to work in the fields. If they couldn’t listen, the next best thing would be to make their younger sisters listen to every pitch and then at the end of the day give the boys a play-by-play account of the game. And that’s precisely what happened. Margaret and her sister knew they’d be in big trouble if they didn’t do a good job. To hear Margaret tell the story, I’d say she enjoyed her work.

Jerry and I had the good fortune one evening of being able to take Margaret to see the Cardinals. Margaret loved the game. The only question was who had the most fun: Margaret or us?

Why talk about Musial at this time? This past Saturday was Sept. 29, which is the 55th anniversary of Musial’s last game. I missed Stan’s first game — I was one day old. But I didn’t miss his last one. I was there Sept. 29, 1963, in what we had always known as Sportsman’s Park, but by then had taken on the name Busch Stadium. It was unseasonably cool. Everyone wore a jacket or sweater, but no one minded. We were there to see “Stan The Man.” And he didn’t let us down. He drove two balls through the right side of the infield, one to the right and one to the left of the second baseman. None of us noticed the rookie infielder that day, but we certainly heard a lot about him later. That young man was Pete Rose.

In July we went out west with our family. In Orem, Utah, all of us but Jerry took a short hike up a mountain. While Jerry was waiting for us to return, actor Robert Redford strolled within a few feet of her. When we got back, Jerry told us she had seen Redford. While our kids and spouses knew who Redford was, our grandkids didn’t. We were in shock. 

How old do you have to be to remember Robert Redford? How about Stan Musial? 

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Some miscellaneous thoughts on the Kavanaugh nomination:

If the roles were reversed and Kavanaugh was their appointee and the Democrats held the same majority Republicans now hold, we all know Kavanaugh would already be sworn in and the media would be singing his praises. 

In 2012, Sen. Harry Reid, who was then Democratic majority leader in the Senate, went on the floor and accused Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of having paid no taxes for 10 years. This was a blatant fabrication, but it didn’t stop some in the media and many Democrats from using this story as if it were absolutely accurate. CNN’s Chris Cillizza is a man who wakes up every morning with severe depression because Donald Trump did not die the night before. But even Cillizza finds Reid’s actions deplorable. In 2016, Cillizza wrote an article for the Washington Post in which he says Reid is “still not sorry” about his big lie. Not only is he not sorry, he’s actually proud that this played a role in Romney’s defeat. Please read the Cillizza story. Google it at “Cillizza, Reid, Romney taxes.”

Be sure to note that the story came four years after the election. Why should we believe a single word out the mouths of any of the Democratic senators involved in the Kavanaugh matter? I am unaware of a single one of them taking issue with Reid’s tactics. With the exception of a few like Lindsey Graham, why should we have respect for the Republicans in the Senate?

Graham’s speech last week is worth reading about. The Federalist said Graham “single-handedly” saved the nomination. That’s probably right.

Ralph Voss is a retired  associate circuit judge from Linn. He and his wife also raise South Poll Cattle. He has been writing “For The Record” since 2006.

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