At 92, Musial still an icon in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — At 92, Stan Musial remains a beloved figure in St. Louis and throughout the baseball world.

Though he is battling the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, Musial still makes appearances at Busch Stadium, most recently during the National League Championship Series in October. Stan the Man turned 92 on Wednesday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the National Sportsmanship Award given annually at the signature event of the St. Louis Sports Commission has been renamed for Musial. It was recognition of the character and integrity Musial displayed not only during his Hall of Fame career with the Cardinals but in the nearly five decades since his retirement in 1963.

“Look at his statistics and it’s clear he’s one of the greatest players who ever lived, but he’s also the nicest person you ever want to meet,” said Mike Bush, KSDK news anchor and the host of the annual sportsmanship awards.

The Donora, Pa., native, was a three-time National League most valuable player, seven-time batting champ and 24-time All-Star. He had 3,630 career hits — 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road. He played 3,026 games and wasn’t ejected from one of them. And his status as a civic icon has grown since his retirement.

“To me, St. Louis is Stan and Stan is St. Louis when it comes to athletics,” said Brian Schwarze, Musial’s grandson.

With Musial’s birthday on the eve of Thanksgiving, the Post-Dispatch asked several notable St. Louisans and St. Louis sports figures about why they’re thankful for Musial. Here are some of their responses:

• NFL Hall of Famer and CBS broadcaster Dan Dierdorf: “I’ve done a few things in my life, I’ve been around, I’ve accomplished a few things, so why am I still a kid when Stan Musial calls me ‘Dan the Man’? My knees start to buckle. My goodness, this is Stan Musial. ... I think he’s just about the perfect storm for St. Louis. Baseball will always be king in St. Louis. Our love of that sport is unparalleled, and he’s the most popular player of the most popular sport we have.”

• Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: “He’s a true living legend. When I was hired I had heard all the stories and I had the sense you know, he can’t be as good a person as everybody says he is. No one can be, right? After being around him and being around the Cardinals, he absolutely is. He is better.”

• NBC Sports and MLB Network broadcaster Bob Costas said: “For more than 20 years, NL pitchers found it almost impossible to consistently get Stan Musial out, but it is truly impossible to find anyone who doesn’t respect and admire him. He is a national, and especially a St. Louis, treasure.”

• Native St. Louisan and New York Yankees Hall of Famer Yogi Berra called Musial a “proud, classy, charming, just a wonderful guy” and “a symbol of everything good (in St. Louis).”

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