Berry Tramel

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Stan Musial: Readers remember

by Berry Tramel Published: January 21, 2013
I wrote about Stan Musial for my Monday column. You can read it here. It struck a chord with readers, as you might suspect. I thought I would share some of their responses.
Jim: “I have an advantage over you in that I am 13 years older.  The world opened up to me when I was nine, in 1957.  I listened to almost every Cardinal day game that summer.  As I remember, the Cardinals were carried on KOMA, and at least half of the games were day games.  The pennant race with the Braves was nip and tuck until the last two weeks of the season.  On Saturdays, NBC had Leo Durocher doing the TV games, and CBS had Dizzy Dean and Buddy Blatner. The Cardinals batting order (I still remember) was Don Blasingame at 2B, Alvin Dark at SS, Musial at 1B, then others that I don’t remember.  Musial was splendid, hitting .351.  The most drama was from Von McDaniel from Hollis, Oklahoma.  Graduated from high school in May, pitched a shut out (a three hitter, I think) against the Dodgers in Ebbets Field in the heat of pennant race.  A WONDERFUL SUMMER.” Trivia question:  who has the most career home runs, without ever leading his league in home runs?  Musial with 475.”
Rex: “Thanks for the Musial article. He was indeed The Man. Only a handful of athletes qualify as heroes. Fewer are worthy of idol status. Stan exemplified the best in athletic ability, kindness and loyalty. Opening Day won’t be the same without him parading around Busch Stadium in the golf cart and the current players reaching out to shake hands. Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Not sure. But if humility is any measure of a man, I have a feeling where Stan is.”
Bill: “Words cannot express my thanks for your comment on the death of Stan Musial. Stan was my teenage hero, I guess you could say. I was 18 years of age when Stan played his last game, and as was my habit, I was listening on KMOX in St. Louis. I remember his last at bat and Pete Rose saying (in the paper) that he was glad he did not catch that ground ball. Rose, as you know, was a rookie that season, 1963. Yep, the Cardinals were the team for the western part of the United States until 1957 when the Dodgers and Giants moved west, but that did not diminish their power in the Midwest, all the way to the Rockies.  They had stations all over the Missouri and Mississippi valleys. Their AAA team was in Tulsa and the AA team was in Little Rock. Stan was always Stan the Man, no matter where he was at, be it Brooklyn or Chicago.  A man someone could look up to. Loyal to the Cardinals, his family, St. Louis and Donora, Pa., his hometown. He was one in a million. I think it was Frank Boggs who wrote in The Oklahoman that it was sad that the Cardinals waited until 1964 to win a pennant.  It would have been better for Stanley Frank Musial to have come to bat against the likes of Whitey Ford one more time.  (It could have been John Cronley.  My memory ain’t THAT sharp.) I have always said there are three things I will miss the rest of my life — my parents and Jim Reeves.  Now there are four.”
Ed: “Good story on Stan the Man.  Those were the days.”
Bob: “Greatly enjoyed your article regarding Stan Musial.  I cried a few tears when (my wife) told me that he had died.  Both my Grandpaws and my Dad were big Cardinal fans and taught me of the love of the game starting in the mid-50s.  I could tell you many stories, but a trip to St. Louis each summer to Musial and Cardinals was our vacation.  In 1962 Musial was getting close to the end of his playing career.  We left early on an August morning and drove to St. Louis for a three-game series with the Dodgers.  Musial played right field on both Friday and Saturday nights.  On Sunday afternoon he was not in the starting lineup, but pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth with the Cardinals down one.  Ken Boyer had singled with two out and Musial then blasted one over the screen into Grand Avenue.  The Cardinals swept the series.  Two grandfathers, my Dad, and one of my friends had just made a memory that has and will never leave my life. I got out my Ken Burns baseball DVD last night and shared Musial and Earl Weaver with my wife.  I am thankful that I grew up with baseball in that time period when it was real.  Since 1974, I have paid little attention to it.”
Mitch: “Nice writeup. I love baseball history. Musial represents a different American dream where most immigrants were European and the stress was on family , religion and self reliance. The goal was to become an American. Contrast to now where we see waves of immigrants who are told they are oppressed and have a right to government help and that ‘diversity’ means never really selling out to America and it’s cool to maintain all your culture. Yes I am generalizing but you get the idea. I truly believe Musial represents a better time. Not a perfect time. That never existed. Musial was like a healthy George Brett having a big season— for two decades.”

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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