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.