By JIM SALTER
ST. LOUIS (AP) - The so-called "Stan Span" is almost a reality.
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill late Monday to name a new Mississippi River bridge at St. Louis in honor of St. Louis Cardinals great Stan "The Man" Musial.
The measure to name the new structure the Stan Musial Memorial Bridge now goes to the U.S. House.
"There's nobody I'd rather see welcoming folks into St. Louis than our hometown hero, Stan Musial," U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said in a statement.
Musial spent his entire 22-year career with the Cardinals, leading the team to three World Series wins. He was a three-time MVP and seven-time batting champion. He retired in 1963 with 3,630 hits split evenly between home and road games, and a .331 batting average.
Musial died Jan. 19 after years of health problems. He was 92.
Almost immediately after his death, fans in the St. Louis region began clamoring to name the new bridge in his honor. The bridge along Interstate 70 is expected to open next year.
"Stan was a true hero to so many Americans, both on and off the field," U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said in a statement. "This is a great way for us remember his legacy for years to come."
The two Missouri senators and their two Illinois colleagues - Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk - proposed the naming legislation shortly after Musial's death.
Musial was a popular figure in St. Louis from the early 1940s through his death. A statue in his likeness stands outside Busch Stadium.