Stand for Stan!

Back Stan Musial for the Medal of Freedom Award!

St. Louis people and the St. Louis Cardinals have organized a campaign that many others of us could stand to support just as well. “Stand for Stan” is all about getting President Obama to recognize the great Hall of Fame former Cardinal Stan Musial for all of his off-the-field financial and quiet service contributions over the years to so many worthy causes of aid to people, especially to children. The whole effort is best summarized in this open letter from Cardinal President William O. DeWitt, Jr.  to President Barack Obama:

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals, I would like to strongly endorse Stan Musial for the Presidential Medal of Freedom to honor his lifetime of achievement and service.

Not only is Stan Musial one of the greatest players to play the game of baseball, he is also an extraordinary American deserving of the nation’s highest civilian honor. Attached you will find a document that we have prepared that thoroughly makes the case for why Stan Musial is deserving of a Medal of Freedom, as well as support letters from both our United States Senators and the Governor of Missouri. In the coming days, you should also be receiving additional support letters from various members of our regional Congressional delegation.

Stan Musial’s baseball accomplishments are legendary. Stan compiled a .331 lifetime batting average, with 3,630 hits, 475 home runs, and 1,951 RBIs during his twenty-two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. Stan held 17 Major-League records, 29 National League records and nine All-Star Game records at the time of his retirement in 1963. Stan is one of only three players to amass over 6,000 total bases in his career (the other two are Hank Aaron and Willie Mays). During his entire playing career, including 3,026 regular-season, 23 World Series and 24 All-Star Games, Stan was never ejected from a game by an umpire – a mark of his great sportsmanship and self-discipline.

While Stan’s baseball accomplishments are enough to make him worthy of joining his contemporary baseball Medal of Freedom winners Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, his off the field heroics over a lifetime make him especially deserving.

Stan served in the Navy during World War II, was chairman of President Lyndon Johnson’s Presidents’ Council on Physical Fitness from 1964 to 1967, acted as an unofficial emissary to Poland and for generations he has quietly donated his money and his time to thousands of charitable and community causes, particularly those dealing with children.

Throughout his life, Stan has never sought recognition for his good works. His happiness comes from doing the right thing and bringing joy to others. While Stan does not know of our efforts to nominate him for this honor, we respectfully request your consideration as Stan has been a true role model – exemplifying the humility, grace and generosity we so desperately need to see in our American sports heroes. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

William O. DeWitt Jr.

For years I was an annual attendee of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society's banquets in St. Louis and got to see Stan Musial there on several occasions. He was as gentle and friendly to us ordinary people as he was to his pals on the old Browns clubs.

Stan Musial possessed a modest self-effacing sense of humor about the things he did for others, never bringing them up on his own except to make light of his actual contributions. Over the years, Stan did a lot for older people in nursing homes, but he used these real morale-boosting services to the elderly to make fun of himself. Here’s what I mean:

Stan played the harmonica. He even organized his own harmonica trio to go with him as performers at nursing homes in the St. Louis area.

“We all loved playing the harmonica,” Stan said. “Unfortunately for the older people and other shut-ins, we decided to take our talents out on them,” he added with a great big Musial smile.

“On these musical occasions at the nursing homes,” Stan said, “the staff would usually gather the residents in a large room; line ’em up in chairs and wheel chairs in front of us; and let us play”

“That was fine with us,” Stan added, “except I had this habit of closing my eyes while I played. I just got so involved in my music that I wanted to just close my eyes while we were performing and just hear the sounds myself.”

“The old folks cured me of that habit,” Stan concluded. “One time we finished a long number and I then opened my eyes to see if I could conclude from the people’s expressions if they liked our music.”

“They all had their eyes closed.”

If you were a fan of Stan Musial years ago, check out the “Stand for Stan” campaign and sign the petition of support for presidential action on the Medal of Freedom Award. I can’t think of any other previously overlooked person from the world of baseball that is more deserving. Besides, if the great Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio were both deserving of this signature award, which they were, so is fellow Hall of famer and military service veteran Stan Musial.

Here’s the link. Simply copy, cut, and paste it to your address line – or else, go to Cardinals.Com at MLB.Com for further information on the Stand for Stan campaign.:

http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/stl/fan_forum/standforstan_index.jsp?partnerId=ed-3661971-141530142

Have a nice day, folks, and remember too: You don’t have to be a Cardinal fan to be a Stan Musial admirer. When it came down to who this man really was as an exceptional player, an outstanding  person, and a genuine American spirit, the man from Donora, Pennsylvania was right up there with the very best, just quiet on the need for public recognition that some others campaign to receive.

Stand for Stan. –  It’s time that America duly and fully honored the Quiet Man of Baseball.

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4 Responses to “Stand for Stan!”

  1. Al Doyle Says:

    Having met Stan Musial and seeing how he treats others, I can guarantee that he is the opposite extreme of angry steroid junkie Barry Bonds. You won’t find a more gracious and down to earth superstar or celebrity.

    Long-time Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon said it best. “Not only is Stan a Hall of Famer player, he’s a Hall of Famer person.” Shannon declared when I interviewed him for Baseball Digest.

  2. Doug S. Says:

    Bill:

    Very nice article about Stan.

    Brief story about my meeting Stan as a child. I was born ’58 and my first baseball memories are the ’64 series and Stan had retired after the ’63 season so I don’t remember him as a player.

    I grew up in East Central IL as a Cardinal fan and still am one to this day. When I was 12 I had attended a Cardinal game one Sunday afternoon and was waiting at ground level for the visiting player to exit Busuch Stadium in an attempt to get a few autographs. My Father pointed out that Stan Musial was walking up above on the outside concourse and suggested I go ask him for an autograph.

    I ran up the stairs to catch Mr. Musial and politely asked for an autograph which he gave me. Then he asked me who my favorite player was and I said Ted Simmons and Joe Torre. Stan then said to walk with him and he would take me to Joe Torre’s car. It might have been 1 minute but the entire he talked to me about where I was from and what baseball positions I played and etc. He told me that Joe would be out in a few minutes and sure enough about 5 minutes later Mr. Torre arrived and asked how I knew this was his car and I told him Mr. Musial had informed me.

    Bottomline if you are a Cardinal fan or not is that Stan and Joe are great guys who are humble.

    I got Joe’s autograph as well and he also talked to me for about 1 minute instead of brushing me aside. Later in life I introduced my children to Joe at the Dome when he was managing the Cardinals and he took a little of his time to say hello to them and autograph baseball’s for them even though it was after a game and he was in the presence of his wife. They thanked him as I had 20+ years earlier.

  3. David Munger Says:

    Why does he seem like the forgotten star? Dad told me that two things he was happy about while pitching in the big leagues was that Ted Williams was in the other league and Stan Musial was his teammate.

    When the talking heads are on the radio yapping about greats of the game, they always seem to rush by Stan. I have argued with these “Sports Experts” and they seem to know it all. Stan was and still is “THE MAN”. I will get on The Stand for Stan Campaign.

  4. Shirley Virdon Says:

    As you are aware, my husband, Bill, was priviledged to have played on the same team with Stan in 1955 and 1956. We will always remember him, as well as Lil, as being generous, friendly and caring friends to all of the members of the team and other people they meet.
    We whole-heartedly support the “STAND FOR STAN CAMPAIGN”!!!

    Bill and Shirley Virdon

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