Thousands of St. Louis Cardinal fans pay their respects to Stan Musial
BY R.B. FALLSTROM Associated Press
Friday, January 25, 2013
1/25/13 at 5:07 AM
ST. LOUIS - Standing outside the Cathedral Basilica as thousands filed inside to pay their respects, Stan Musial's grandson was thankful.
"Just seeing all this," Brian Schwarze said, "and I got to play catch with him."
"I mean, he was my grandfather. But I really do believe I'm starting to understand somewhat what he meant to the whole community," he said.
Many visitors seemed to treat Thursday's six-hour public visitation as if it was Stan the Man's final game day, decked out in team attire and ignoring bitter cold for the chance to get one last glimpse.
In an open casket, Musial was clad in the red jacket he and other Cardinals Hall of Famers wore for special occasions, a harmonica in his pocket and a red tie dotted with tiny Cardinals.
The same tie that retired high school teacher Randy Pierce proudly pointed out he was wearing, too.
"My wife for my last birthday gave me a big photo of President Obama giving Stan the Presidential Medal of Freedom," Pierce said. "It's signed by Stan, so I've got the important one."
Musial, a three-time National League MVP, seven-time batting champion and 24-time All-Star, died Saturday after years of declining health. He was 92.
Fans turned out in droves to pay respects to a superstar who never acted the part, always making time for one more autograph, or to shake one more hand.
"Sometimes, it was like 'All right, Grandpa, we've got to get going,' " Schwarze said. "My mom would be yelling at him when she was a little kid like, 'Time to go!' and he was like 'Hold on, I've got some fans still.' "
Family, close friends and perhaps some of baseball's biggest names will be back at the cathedral for a funeral on Saturday. Thursday was for the fans.
A half-hour before the visitation, hundreds lined Lindell Boulevard leading to the steps of the cathedral.
When a bell chimed once as the doors opened, 68-year-old Evelyn Bourisaw, dressed in a red coat, exclaimed, "Time to play ball!"
Among the first to go in were Audrey Kissel, 86, and Erma Bergman, 88. The two were kindred spirits of Musial, not only of his generation but also former ballplayers. Kissel played second base and Bergman pitched in a women's professional league during World War II, popularized in the movie "A League of Their Own."
Both handed out personal baseball cards depicting them in uniforms that featured skirts and summarized achievements and listed nicknames - Kissel was known as "Pigtails" and Bergman as "Bergie."
"He was a very lovely person," Kissel said.
Rope lines steered mourners toward the casket in a corner of the church.
Myron Schumacher, 71, noted that he was born in 1941, the year Musial broke into the big leagues, and was at the original Busch Stadium in 1963 for Musial's final game.
"He was amazing," he said.
Original Print Headline: Fans remember 'Stan the Man'
Dave Ebert takes a photo of the line of people as he waits outside Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis to pay his respects during the public visitation for former St. Louis Cardinals great Stan Musial on Thursday in St. Louis. JEFF ROBERSON/Associated Press