I can’t claim to have known Stan Musial, who died this evening at the age of 92, and you’re sure to find far more thorough tributes to “The Man” in various other corners of the baseball media landscape.
But I figured I’d share some memories from the couple of times I was lucky enough to meet him.
I was a sophomore third-string catcher on the JV baseball team at St. Louis’ Chaminade College Prep in 2003 and our starting third baseman — a talented freshman with a very familiar batting stance named Andrew Edmonds — was one of Stan’s grandsons. Andrew of course wore No. 6, even when he eventually shifted his focus to ice hockey.
Stan would show up at Chaminade’s baseball field every few weeks, sit with his wife in matching lawn chairs just behind the backstop, and sign autographs for the duration of sloppy seven-inning high school games. I always felt bad that people were hounding him, but he never stopped shaking hands or scribbling away on different items except during his grandson’s plate appearances. St. Louis loved Stan and Stan loved St. Louis right back. It was an active mutual affection that seems likely to somehow remain.
I feel like everyone I know in St. Louis has a ball signed by Stan Musial. They spill loosely out of cabinets at my parents’ house and I keep one at my apartment that he signed for me personally. He told me not to put it in a case — “get it dirty” — so I usually keep it in my softball glove. It has a significantly different feel tonight.
Stan knew his signature gave people joy so he signed everything. He was simple like that. Pure class.
UPDATE: (11:36 AM EDT, Wednesday): The deal has been announced by both clubs. The A’s will be receiving left-handed pitcher Colt Hynes. Hynes is 31. He’s pitches seven games in the big leagues and has spent ten years in the minors with a 3.62 ERA in 456 games, almost all in relief.
Update (7:49 AM EDT, Wednesday): Susan Slusser hears word that, yes, the deal is official.
Update (7:20 PM EDT): John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports that Crisp has indeed been traded, but there won’t be an official announcement until Wednesday. Crisp has already left the Athletics’ clubhouse.
Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Athletics and Indians are making progress on a trade that would send outfielder Coco Crisp to Cleveland. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports confirms Adams’ report. Crisp, who has 10-and-5 rights, has waived them in order to facilitate a deal.
Crisp, 36, is owed the remainder of his $11 million salary for the 2016 season and has a $13 million option for the 2017 season that vests if he reaches 550 plate appearances or plays in 130 games this season. He has already played in 102 games and logged 434 PA, batting .234/.299/.399 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI.
The Indians are still looking to bolster the outfield. Michael Brantley is expected to miss the rest of the season, Bradley Zimmer may not yet be ready for the majors, and Abraham Almonte is not eligible to play in the postseason after testing positive for boldenone in February.
I met some guy on a hike a couple of months ago who used to be married to a close friend or a cousin or something of Indians pitcher Zach McAllister. I forget the details but it was some tenuous relationship like that. No different than a lot of brush-with-fame stories you get from Triple-A towns like Columbus, where McAllister spent some time.
Anyway, the guy met McAllister a couple of times. They didn’t really talk about much but the guy said he remembers McAllister talking about just how hard baseball was. In terms of the skills required and the mastery of it even if you are blessed with those skills. And, of course, the mental strain of it all when you’re at that place, as McAllister was at the time, when your career can either be made or broken by what the big club thinks of you. He was 22 or 23 then, and if he hadn’t been called up soon, he might’ve gone from prospect to organizational guy and that’s a lot of money left on the table.
Anyway, the point of it all was that this guy I was hiking with — not a big baseball fan — was super impressed with McAllister and said he hadn’t thought about just how hard professional sports were to even the guys who are insanely gifted at playing professional sports. I don’t think most of us think about that as much as we probably should.
Then again, sometimes players make it look easy. Like McAllister did last night when he threw a pitch to Kurt Suzuki, kicked the line drive that was hit back to him into the air and caught it on the fly: