“The Man” was the greatest

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Mike's Minute

By Mike Aldridge

A mixed message this week as the NFL playoffs are down to the Super Bowl, the Fillies and Breds basketball is only a month from the district tournament, wrestling is winding down with the region only three weeks away, bowling regions this weekend and track getting started.  Add the Reds Caravan this Thursday at 12:45-1:45 at Angilo’s and the cheerleaders winning the region competition and we have a full slate of athletics going on in Harrison County.
Last Saturday started out as a great day with the Breds coming back from 18 points down to defeat South Laurel in double overtime and the cheerleaders winning the region.  
After I arrived back home from Winchester, the wind was taken completely out of my sails when across the ESPN screen came the news that Stan Musial had died at age 92.
Musial was the face of the Cardinals as far as I was concerned from when I was a little boy until today.  
He was a star in every sense of the word, winning seven batting titles, three MVP’s and three World Series championships. But he was more than a baseball player to Cardinal fans and to baseball in general.  
Willie Mays, one of the greatest center fielders of all times, was quoted as saying that he had never heard anyone say a bad word about “The Man.”  
Mays went on to say that in the 24 all star games that he played with Musial, he always was there to help him.  
Stan Musial was signed by the Cardinals out of Latrobe, Penn., as a pitcher but injured his arm and moved to the outfield.  
He played 22 years for the Red Birds holding 55 records when he retired in 1963 including the most hits until surpassed in 1981.  
Musial had 3,630 total base hits, 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road.  
“The Man” with the most unorthodox left handed stance had a single in his last at bat.  Musial’s passing made me recall the malaise I felt when Harry Carey died in 1998, but only with a deeper sadness.  
One of the bad things about getting old is that your heroes die whether they are your parents or ballplayers or both.  
My mother loved the Cardinals, especially Musial, which is where I became the Cardinal fan that I am.  
My family made a few trips to St. Louis when my two brothers, my sister and I were young and we always went to a ball game.  
I go to a couple every year now, but it will never be the same knowing that Musial is gone.  
There are two statues of Musial at the ballpark, which is as close to him as the fans will now be able to be. Those who didn’t see him play will not know what it was like to see a true gentleman play the game.