On July 24, 1949, when I was 12 years old, I paid 60 cents to sit in the center field bleachers at Ebbets Field so I could root for my hometown Brooklyn Dodgers. But the St. Louis Cardinals were playing, and so, like many Dodgers fans, I was also pulling for the Cardinals' Stan Musial. We weren't disappointed: Musial hit for the cycle that day—a single, a double, a triple and a home run. (We would have preferred that it was in a losing effort, but the Cards won 14-1.) It would turn out to be the only cycle of Musial's 3,630-hit-filled career.
The great ballplayers are defined by more than statistics. Usually these players are defined by what they do while wearing their white home uniforms, performing spectacular feats on their own team's turf. But Stan Musial, who died Saturday at age 92, was a different sort of great ballplayer.
Yes, he was St. Louis's own—there are two statues of him at their ballpark—and he brought fame to his coal-country birthplace in Donora, Pa. It was in Brooklyn, though, where he was tagged by fans as "the Man" in honor of the way he regularly demolished the Dodgers. How many visiting ballplayers are regarded as a beloved foe?
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