Because it’s Jackie Robinson Day, a few quotes from Jackie himself:
I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me. All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.
A life is not important, except for the impact it has on other lives.
Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.
There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.
We had the privilege of going to the Cardinals game tonight where they honored Stan “The Man” Musial. As soon as we got off the train, we noticed tributes to Stan.
The Gateway Harmonica Club, of which Stan was a member, was in attendance. They played outside the stadium as the gates were opening, and then played inside before the game. I was shocked to see that there are so many different types of harmonicas!
The most noticeable tribute inside Busch Stadium itself was the giant “6″ in the outfield.
The outfield fence has a replica of the patch the Cardinals players are wearing in Stan’s memory this season, as well.
There were other mentions of Stan around the park and in the Team Store…
But the most meaningful of all were the tributes by the military. A B-25 flyover:
And a group of sailors unveiling an additional to the Musial statue outside the ballpark. If you didn’t shed a tear when they saluted, I seriously think you might be lacking a soul!
Stan’s grandchildren threw out the first pitch(es). They were led out to the mound by Stan’s longtime friend, Red Schoendienst, which seemed fitting.
It was also harmonica night.
During the sixth inning (of course), the fans were encouraged to pull out their harmonicas, and play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” along with an old video of Stan playing on his own harmonica.
It was a beautiful and fitting way to honor the greatest Cardinal to ever wear the uniform!
Like many St. Louisans, and baseball fans everywhere, I was surprised to hear of the passing of Stan Musial last night. Yes, he was quite elderly (92!), and he had been in ill-health for quite some time. So his passing should have been, and in some ways was, expected. And yet, I was surprised.
Because Stan has always been here. He spent his entire career (22 years). with the Cardinals–almost unheard of now. He was always there, in red jacket, for Opening Day, even as he grew more frail. He was, quite simply, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Now the Cardinals must go on without their perfect ambassador. There will be others to step up to the plate, so to speak, and take on that role, others who will be loved and celebrated in St. Louis.
But none of them will ever be The Man, and he will never be forgotten.
Last night, the Cardinals season, and quest for a second World Series title in as many years, fizzled and died. Actually, it didn’t just fizzle, it spontaneously combusted in a grand, frustrating, embarrassing, maddening fashion.
Last year, after winning the World Series, there were celebrations and appearances, rallies, and even a parade.
This year, nothing.
The players will be moving on…many will go back home for the off-season, although there are those who call St. Louis home. Some we won’t see back here at all, as they’ll be retiring, or joining a different team (Berkman, I’m looking at you). Some don’t even know their fate yet…that will be determined through negotiations before the start of the next season. But the players will say their good-byes to each other and their coaches.
Us fans, though?
We didn’t even get to say goodbye.
No parade, no rally, no last moment of joy in our team. Just an abrupt, somewhat surprising end to the season, and the knowledge that this team that played for us this year will never be exactly the same.
That’s the funny thing about sports. Just as this year’s team is not the same as last year’s, next year’s team is also going to be different. It’s fluid, ever-changing. And when a season comes to an abrupt end, you feel a little cheated out of cherishing those last few moments of celebrating this group of individuals come together. Next year, there will be faces that we’ll miss seeing in the dugout, and new personalities to get to know, new heroes and new injuries to obsess over. Next year might be an equally crazy ride to the post-season, or perhaps something a little more run-of-the-mill.
Whatever happens, I know I’ve learned one thing in the last two years…I always leave the Cardinals some room to surprise and delight me, especially in October. I just wish I could have said my good-byes.