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Musial the Main Focus at Cardinals’ Fan Festival

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Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013 9:15 am

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Stan the Man was the dominant topic at the St. Louis Cardinals’ annual fan festival. Outside Busch Stadium, it was totally about paying tribute, too.

All day Sunday, fans ignored near-freezing temperatures and gathered around the larger of the two Musial statues at the ballpark, remembering the Hall of Famer and franchise icon who died Saturday at 92. Team flags were at half-staff.

Among the tributes was a statement from President Barack Obama saying he was “saddened to learn of the passing of baseball legend Stan Musial.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called Musial “a great American hero who — with the utmost humility — inspired us all to aim high and dream big. The world is emptier today without him, but far better to have known him.”

The team was awaiting word from Musial’s family on arrangements for a formal tribute. Weather could preclude a home-plate ceremony and casket viewing for fans such as was done when broadcaster Jack Buck died in 2002.

“It’s the end of an incredible era,” team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. “We’ve told them whatever they would like to do, we would certainly be there for them.

“Stan epitomized everything that’s great about Cardinal baseball in every way.”

Despite the weather there was a game-day feel at the ballpark. Dozens at a time congregated around the statue, often blocking a lane of traffic to get the perfect photo. Many fans dropped off mementoes, including miniature bats, balls inscribed with messages, hats, flowers and flags at the base.

A tear rolling down one eye, 65-year-old Gene Sandrowski of St. Louis remembered attending a 1954 doubleheader when Musial hit five homers against the New York Giants at Sportsman’s Park.

“I snuck in and worked my way down,” said Sandrowski, who wore a Cardinals jacket and hat, as did many others. “What a game, what a player. He was a very generous man, too.

“I’ve got a ball signed by him at home: ‘To Gene, to a great baseball fan, Stan Musial Hall of Fame.’ Try to get an autograph now, they’ve got them all fenced off.”

The most expensive item in the team store came off the shelf. Richard Dunseth of Jacksonville, Ill., deemed the $900 price tag for an autographed Stan Musial jersey a bargain. For $169, you could purchase an autographed ball in a cube.

“Most of the people here, their memories of him are as a person and not a Hall of Fame player,” Dunseth said. “This is just kind of a spontaneous buy. I think it’s worth it.”

Inside the fan fest, those who knew Stan the Man best validated the outpouring of emotion.

Longtime former manager Tony La Russa ranks Musial in the upper echelon of players along with Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. Off the field, La Russa has an even greater appreciation.

La Russa, who collected celebrity pals during his 16-year stint as manager, recalled author John Grisham and his father being touched by the chance to meet Musial a few years ago.

“They’re sitting in my office and here comes Stan,” La Russa said. “Grisham told me later on, as they left the ballpark his dad said ‘My life is complete. I just met Stan Musial.’”

Musial had been in poor health for several years.

“Anybody who knows him knows the quality of life was not good,” La Russa said. “I remember it was like with Jack (Buck), you got so selfish. You knew he was suffering but you definitely didn’t want to lose him.”

Again and again, Musial was remembered as a superstar with no sense of entitlement or worries about privacy. Though Musial marketed autographs with a business partner in Stan the Man, Inc., he had no qualms about signing in abundance for free.

“You see players today that are somewhat stingy with autographs, trying to maintain value or for whatever reason,” DeWitt said. “Stan could care less about the value of his autograph. Whoever wanted, he would give it because he wanted to make them happy.”

Coming up, Cardinals prospects knew Musial was the one to emulate. Outfielder-first baseman Allen Craig met Musial in La Russa’s office a few years ago.

“I think his nickname says it all,” Craig said. “We lost an all-time great.”

Center fielder Jon Jay grew up in Miami, a city that he said lacked a “rich baseball tradition.”

“What Stan stood for, he’s a role model for everyone,” Jay said. “I know he’s resting in peace.”

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Area Scoreboard

Football

Friday, Aug. 22

Washington 26, St. Clair 21

Borgia 48, Owensville 12

Parkway West 49, Union 39

Pacific 28, De Soto 20

Park Hills Central 34, Sullivan 27

St. James 12, Cuba 6

Hermann 61, Montgomery Co 12

Warrenton 26, St. Dominic 23

Trinity 28, Wright City 24

Friday, Aug. 29

Washington at Sullivan    7 p.m.

Union at Borgia     7 p.m.

St. Clair at Ozark    7 p.m.

Potosi at Pacific    7 p.m.

Cuba at Hermann    7 p.m.

Blair Oaks at Owensville    7 p.m.

Houston at St. James    7 p.m.

Troy at Warrenton    7 p.m.

Wright City at Orchard Farm    7 p.m.

Volleyball

Friday, Aug. 22

@Neosho Co def. ECC, 26-24, 25-14, 25-23

Marquette def. Washington 25-19, 25-20

@ECC def. Labette, 25-15, 13-15, 25-20, 25-18

Crosspoint at Community Christian    6:30 p.m.

Crosspoint vs. St. Louis Panthers    7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 23

@ECC vs. Fort Scott    11 a.m.

@ECC vs. Pratt    5 p.m.

Sullivan at Windsor Tny    TBA

Monday, Aug. 25

Steelville at St. James    5:30 p.m.

Hermann at Montgomery Co    6 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 26

Pacific at Seckman    4:15 p.m.

Union at Potosi    5 p.m.

Washington at Francis Howell C    5 p.m.

Pacific at Farmington    5 p.m.

New Haven at Cuba    5:30 p.m.

Owensville at Bourbon    5:30 p.m.

St. James at Salem    5:30 p.m.

Cardinal Ritter at Borgia    6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Central Methodist JV at ECC    6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 28

Potosi at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Notre Dame at Borgia, 5 p.m.

*Ft. Zumwalt S at Washington    5 p.m.

Battle at Union    5:30 p.m.

Hermann at Jefferson City    5:30 p.m.

Belle at New Haven    5:30 p.m.

Linn at Owensville    6 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 29

Mississippi Valley at Crosspoint    5 p.m.

Softball

Friday, Aug. 22

Rolla at St. James    7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 23

New Haven Tournament    8 a.m.

Lutheran South at Sullivan    10 a.m.

Union Tournament

Union Sports Complex

G1 Washington 21, St. Clair 0

G2 Pacific 15, Liberty 3

G3 Farmington 15, Union 0

G4 Park Hills Central 4, Borgia 2

G5 Liberty 6, St. Clair 5

G6 Union 9, Borgia 2

G7 Washington 5, Pacific 4

G8 Farmington 5, Park Hills Central 2

Consolation — Union vs. Liberty Postponed due to heat

Seventh Place — Borgia 16, St. Clair 0

Championship — Farmington 5, Washington 0

Third Place — Park Hills Central 7, Pacific 6

Monday, Aug. 25

*Notre Dame at Borgia    3:45 p.m.

Union 14, Rolla 7

New Haven at Cuba    4:30 p.m.

St. James at Salem    4:30 p.m.

Belle at Owensville    5 p.m.

Sullivan at Westminster Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Aug. 26

*Ft. Zumwalt S at Washington    7 p.m.

Warrenton at Union    6 p.m.

Duchesne at Pacific    4:30 p.m.

Steelville at Owensville    4:30 p.m.

Vienna at St. James    4:30 p.m.

Wright City at St. Clair    6 p.m.

New Bloomfield at New Haven    5 p.m.

Hermann at Montgomery Co    5 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Borgia at Pacific    4:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 28

Borgia at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Ft. Zumwalt N at Washington    4:30 p.m.

Bourbon at Hermann    4:30 p.m.

Owensville at Linn    4:30 p.m.

Fulton St. Albans at Crosspoint    4:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 29

Pacific at Lutheran South    4:15 p.m.

New Haven at Wellsville    4:30 p.m.

Belle at St. James    4:30 p.m.

Washington at Battle Tny    TBA

Saturday, Aug. 30

Washington at Battle Tny    TBA

Boys Soccer

Friday, Aug. 22

Crosspoint at ER    4:30 p.m.

Festus at Union PPD, Rescheduled for Oct. 13

#Washington 2, Bishop DuBourg 1

Fulton SA at Rock Bridge Tny    TBA

Saturday, Aug. 23

#Rockwood Summit 8, Washington 0

Fulton SA at Rock Bridge Tny    TBA

Sunday, Aug. 24

Heartland at ECC    1 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 26

*Union at St. James    5 p.m.

St. Clair at Fredericktown    5 p.m.

Pacific at Hillsboro    5 p.m.

Sullivan at SLUH    5 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Borgia at Union    7 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 28

Union at De Soto    5 p.m.

Pacific at North County    5 p.m.

*St. James at Sullivan    5 p.m.

*St. Mary’s at Borgia    6:15 p.m.

Washington at Pky W/Northwest Tny    TBA

Friday, Aug. 29

Mississippi Valley at Crosspoint    4:30 p.m.

ECC at McKendree JV    7 p.m.

Washington at Pky W/Northwest Tny    TBA

Saturday, Aug. 30

Washington at Pky W/Northwest Tny    TBA

Cross Country

Friday, Aug. 22

Sullivan at Fleet Feet Inv    4 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 28

Borgia at Parkway Central Inv    TBA

Friday, Aug. 29

St. Clair at First Capitol Inv    4 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 30

Washington at Lafayette Inv    9 a.m.

Girls Golf

Monday, Aug. 25

Washington at Borgia    3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 26

Washington at Troy    3:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 28

*Borgia at Kennedy    TBA

Boys Swimming

Friday, Aug. 29

Borgia, Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E Inv    3:30 p.m.

*Conference Games

@Fort Scott Tournament

#Parkway West/Northwest Tournament

Racing News