St. Louis, nation mourns death of Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial

R.B. Fallstrom, The Associated Press
Associated Press
FILE - In this Aug. 4, 1968, file photo, former St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Stan Musial stand near a statue of him at the plate, outside Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Musial, one of baseball's greatest hitters and a Hall of Famer with the Cardinals for more than two decades, has died. He was 92. Stan the Man won seven National League batting titles, was a three-time MVP and helped the Cardinals capture three World Series championships in the 1940s. The Cardinals announced Musial's death in a news release. They said he died Saturday evening, Jan. 19, 2013, at his home surrounded by family. (AP Photo/Fred Waters)

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 sombre.

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' favourite 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 honour 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 reliever 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 Whitey Herzog said Musial was a player he'd have loved to have written into 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. All of his 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."

Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said: "The mould 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," Idelson said.

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."