Yesterday, the president presented the Medal of Freedom to one of the finest baseball players in the history of the game, a devout Catholic and father – Stan Musial. We’re a bit young to have seen Stan the Man play ball, but we heard numerous stories about his exploits on the ball field from Cowboy Papist’s grandparents who would have enjoyed seeing their favorite St. Louis Cardinal being recognized by our country and a Democratic president.
The old man and woman were from the St. Louis area where their families were originally dirt poor farmers, moved to the city to find work through the Great Depression, lost brothers and innumerable friends in World War II, traveled the South playing music with siblings with remarkably accomplished and crackerjack virtuosity, fiercely debated politics with their son and daughter while hating the Iron Curtain and all it represented, and died immersed in the unending love of nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Through it all was baseball; offering respite from the daily struggle to exist in a tragic world that never seemed to give them a break. Their love of baseball was transferred to throughout the family, giving balance to the universe in endless debates over statistical minutiae instead of falling to the threatening temptations of worry, doubt and those damn Yankees.
Stan the Man stories seemed to be endless from the old folks. Today, there would have been an ever bigger bounce in their step knowing that they had watched him play baseball numberless times. Now everyone knew what they knew over 40 years ago.
As President Obama noted, Stan the Man is “a gentleman you would want your kids to emulate.”
- Medals of Freedom: Musial (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Stan Musial: President Obama Honors Musial With Presidential Medal Of Freedom (bleacherreport.com)