I was 10 years old as I stood in front of Mantle. I sheepishly walked up to him, did not say a word, and just handed him the ball. Now, as pitchers and catchers get ready to report to spring training, I ponder.
Musial, who died this week, was our Galahad, our Achilles, our Hector -- a modest, decent man who did more than anyone to raise St. Louis to its reputation as a good sports town where the fans even clap for the opposing team's players.
The real reason my father became a Cardinals fan is simply because of Stan Musial. Musial, who died over the weekend at the age of 92, had not uncoiled his famous swing in a meaningful baseball game in just short of half a century. During that time a legend grew around Stan Musial.