Durbin Honors Stan "The Man" Musial on the Senate Floor
Supports naming new bridge over Mississippi River in baseball legend’s honor
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today honored the life of Baseball Hall of Famer and St. Louis Cardinal Stan Musial, who passed away on Saturday. Durbin attended a February 2011 ceremony at the White House where President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Musial, widely recognized as one of the greatest baseball players in history, who dedicated 22 years to the game of baseball, served in the Navy during World War II and committed the rest of his life to public service. In recognition of Musial’s impact on the St. Louis community, Durbin announced that he would join Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introducing legislation to name the new bridge that spans the Mississippi River at St. Louis in Musial’s honor.
“Stan Musial was my hero when I was a boy and he remains one of my heroes to this day,” Durbin said. “On the field and off, Stan Musial was always a gentleman, always a champion. He exemplified the values of sportsmanship, discipline, hard work, grace, consistency. Another fitting way that we can honor this American hero and the values he epitomized is by naming the new bridge that spans the Mississippi River at St. Louis in his honor.”
Video of Durbin’s statement is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s statement is available here.
Senator Durbin’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
Senator Richard J. Durbin
January 23, 2012
Honoring Stan Musial, Baseball’s Perfect Knight
It’s been said that in St. Louis, baseball is a civic religion. If that is true, then Stan Musial was St. Louis’ civic patron saint.
Stan Musial was a St. Louis icon. He was the best ballplayer ever to wear a Cardinals uniform and one of the best ever to play the game of baseball.
Stan Musial was my hero when I was a boy and he remains one of my heroes to this day.
His death Sunday at the age of 92 has hit the Cardinals Nation like a death in the family.
One Cardinals fan spoke for many of us when she told a St. Louis newspaper that losing Stan Musial “is like losing a grandparent. It’s hard not to tear up.”
My hero – then and now
Growing up in East St. Louis, my most prized possession was my Stan Musial Rawlings baseball glove. As a kid, I rubbed that glove with Gloveoleum until I was the only one who could still see Stan Musial’s name burned in the leather.
One of the highlights of my life came two years ago, when I got to meet Stan Musial in person. It was at the White House – February 11, 2011. Stan Musial was there to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
He is one of only eight other ballplayers ever to receive that prestigious honor. The others are Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Buck O'Neill.
At the White House, Stan Musial signed that old glove in his own hand. What a thrill.
“Baseball’s perfect knight”
Outside Busch Stadium in St. Louis is a statue of Stan the Man in his playing prime.
Etched into the base of the statue are the words that Major League Baseball Commissioner Ford C. Frick said at Stan Musial’s retirement in 1963: “Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here Stands baseball’s perfect knight.”
On the field and off, Stan Musial was always a gentleman, always a champion. He exemplified the values of sportsmanship, discipline, hard work, grace, consistency.
“Good enough to take your breath away”
Baseball broadcaster Vin Scully – a Hall of Famer himself – once said: “How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away.”
Stan Musial played his entire career – 22 years – for the St. Louis Cardinals. He took off one season – 1945 – to serve in the Navy during World War II.
His 3,026 games with the same club are second only to the 3,308 games over 23 years Carl Yastrzemski played for the Boston Red Sox.
When he retired from baseball after the 1963 season, Musial held 29 National League records and 17 major-league records.
Here are just some of his career numbers:
- .331 batting average;
- .417 on-base percentage;
- 3630 hits;
- 725 doubles;
- 177 triples;
- 475 homers;
- 1949 runs, and
- 1951 RBIs.
He is the only player to finish his career in the top 25 in all of these categories.
Origin of the nickname
His famous nickname was coined not by Cardinals fans but by Brooklyn Dodgers fans in May 1946 after Musial’s four hits helped led the Cardinals in a 13-4 drubbing of the Dodgers. Every time Stan Musial came to the plate, the fans in Ebbetts Field said, “Here comes the man,” and the name stuck.
The legendary baseball writer Red Barber once described the 1947 season as the “year all hell broke loose in baseball.” It was the year that Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball.
Jackie Robinson would later recall Stan Musial and Hank Greenberg as two of the players who had encouraged him during that historic and difficult year.
Five homers in one day
Stan Musial’s greatest single day on the baseball field came on May 2, 1954, in a doubleheader in St. Louis against the New York Giants. He hit three homers in the first game and two in the second.
Demanding a cut in pay
In 1957, Stan Musial became the first major league player to earn an annual salary of $100,000. Two years later, when he hit a career-low .255, he asked the Cardinals to cut his salary to $80,000.
Late in his final season, he stayed up all night waiting for the birth of his first grandchild and the next day became the first grandfather ever to homer in the majors.
Umpires never ejected him in more than 3,000 games.
Elected to the Hall of Fame
On January 21, 1969, Stan Musial was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot. He was named on 92 percent of the ballots – the first player to receive 300 votes on a Hall of Fame ballot.
Number 6 – a badge of honor
When he retired, the St. Louis Cardinals retired his number – number 6.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has said that the entire Cardinals team will wear a Number 6 patch on their uniforms.
“It will be a call,” he said, “for us to do our very best to live up to that high standard of excellence.”
Matheny added: “You don’t come across names like warrior, prince and knight by just having Hall of Fame statistics. It comes from making an impact in people’s lives. I was in that group. Mr. Musial, I say thank you. He’s a perfect example of what it means to wear this jersey.”
Naming a bridge in his honor
Another fitting way that we can honor this American hero and the values he epitomized is by naming the new bridge that spans the Mississippi River at St. Louis in his honor.
I am proud to join Senator McCaskill in introducing a bill to name the bridge the Stan Musial Memorial Bridge. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Illinois and Missouri general assemblies.
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