Best Wishes, Stan Musial
There have been some great tributes to the late Stan Musial since his passing this weekend. Most have chronicled his Hall of Fame career and what he meant to the city of St. Louis. Mine is a personal one as seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy back in 1977. That 11-year-old was me.
Long story short. Hall of Fame St. Louis Post Dispatch writer, Bob Broeg, had just written a bio of Stan Musial. He and Stan were going to appear in the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame for a book signing. My mom and dad were emphatic about taking me to meet Stan. At the time, I didn't understand why. I do now.
I have been a Cardinal fan as long as I've been alive. But, I wasn't around when Stan Musial played. He retired three years before I was born. But, my dad and uncles told me that I HAD to meet Stan Musial. I asked naively, "He was a Cardinal, right?". My dad said, "Stan Musial IS the Cardinals".
That was the reason my mom and dad made a point of getting me to the book signing where Stan would appear. I have to admit that as an 11-year-old, a book signing sounded about as exciting as watching paint dry. Little did I know it would be a simple thing that would stay with me the rest of my life.
I don't remember much about that day. But, I do remember what happened when we finally made our way up to the table where Stan was seated with a stack of books. There were so many people there I didn't expect that we would actually really talk to Stan. But, talk he did. I used to have a Cardinal shirt that had my name on the front. (We Holliday's are a vain bunch) As best I can recall, Stan looked up from the book he was about to sign, looked at my shirt and said "Hi Jeff, thanks so much for coming out to see me!".
I fully realize that this is such a trivial thing to most people. I'm sure Stan called a lot of people by name that day. That's just the kind of guy he was. But, through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy, THE Cardinal...Stan Musial...acted like he knew me. He made me feel like I was important.
It may seem like a small thing to most people. A personal greeting to a kid like me. But, it happened at a time when I was in the process of changing from a boy to a man. And now "The Man" acted like he knew me. It's one of those little experiences that help shape the person you eventually become. Stan's little moment of kindness to this (at the time) 11-year-old has remained with me to this day.
Best wishes, Stan Musial. This Cardinal fan will never forget you.