ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Cardinals reliever Mitchell Boggs was at a party back home in Georgia for his sister’s wedding when the gathering suddenly turned somber.
The news had spread that Hall of Famer Stan Musial died on Saturday. He was 92.
“Everybody knew who Stan Musial was,” Boggs said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “Everyone knew what a great person he was.”
A moment of silence was observed before the start of the Rhode Island-Saint Louis men’s basketball game across town, and prior to the third period of the St. Louis Blues’ NHL opener against the Detroit Red Wings when public address announcer Tom Calhoun described Musial as “St. Louis’ favorite son.”
Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa interrupted his annual Animal Rescue Foundation event onstage to pass on the sad news. The Cardinals set up a memorial around the larger of the two Musial statues, a longtime meeting place for fans, outside Busch Stadium.
“Obviously, everybody is heartbroken,” current Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said at the Blues game. “There’s a lot of people who will quote his stats to you, but what makes it so touching is how it affects people’s lives.”
Former Cardinals star Albert Pujols weighed in with a tweet: “My prayers are with the Musial family tonight. I will cherish my friendship with Stan for as long as I live. Rest in Peace.”
Current Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday, too: “Sad to hear about Stan the Man, it’s an honor to wear the same uniform. Prayers to the Musial family.”
Many recalled Musial as the most selfless of sports heroes. Boggs was touched by Musial’s enthusiasm when the pitcher cracked the major leagues in 2008.
“He was one of the best players to ever play the game, and he was very happy for me when I made my first team,” Boggs said. “He was extremely kind to me. He was one of a kind.”
Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog said Musial was a player he’d have loved to have written onto his lineup card. He said Musial’s influence provided a helpful push in his election to the Hall.
“He was always great to me when I was a nobody,” Herzog said. “He will always be Mr. Baseball. You can go around the world and you’ll never find a better human being than Stan Musial.”
Musial had been in poor health for several years and Herzog remembered a conversation at the funeral of Musial’s wife, Lillian, last May in which Musial indicated he was ready for the end of his life.
“I always wanted to live to be 100,” Herzog recalled Musial saying, “but I didn’t want to live to be 100 like this.”
All of Musial’s admirers preferred to recall the long-lasting glory days.
“I never got to see him play but I saw what type of person he was and what type of impact he had in this city,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. “That made me realize how lucky we were to have him.”
Commissioner Bud Selig said baseball lost “one of its true legends,” adding that Musial had been a “Hall of Famer in every sense and a man who led a great American life.”
“All of Major League Baseball mourns his passing, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, admirers and all the fans of the Cardinals,” Selig said.
Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said: “The mold broke with Stan. There will never be another like him.”
“Stan will be remembered in baseball annals as one of the pillars of our game, with his many successes on the diamond, the passion with which he played, and his engaging personality,” he said.
Blues Hall of Famer Bernie Federko commented on Musial after broadcasting the hockey team’s 6-0 victory over Detroit.
“He never acted like a famous ballplayer, he just acted like a normal guy. He always had time for everyone, and he looked you in the eye,” Federko said. “It’s a sad day but to go at 92, it’s a great life. I lost my dad last year at 92 the same way. If we all signed up for 92 years, we’d be pretty happy about it.”
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