Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stan Musial's Passing

Memories of Stanley Frank Musial
Submitted following his death
January 19, 2013
Readers of the KOM league Flash Report
Edited by John G. Hall

The prologue

Stan Musial may well have been the most popular and universally respected man to ever have played the game of baseball.  If he wasn’t then someone forgot to tell those who contributed to this report with their memories that spanned the 1940’s-50’s and the first three years of the 60’s.

As Editor of the KOM league Flash Report I invited any remarks that the readership cared to share and they are included in their full content.  I wish to make a disclaimer at the outset.  I spotted a few comments that were technically incorrect but didn’t edit them.  Since the memories of the readership were solicited I accepted their input as their recollection of the past.  Many times our mind plays tricks on us.  But, reading all the input received, the primary thing that came through was the great admiration for Stan Musial.

The impact of the Cardinal baseball network

One gets wide spread admiration by publicity.  In my mind the one thing that brought Musial into the limelight more than any single thing was the St. Louis Cardinal radio network.  I can testify it was so in my life.  Contrary to most current thought it wasn’t radio station KMOX that did it.  In early days of listening to the Cardinals the St. Louis Browns had KMOX tied up.  When I heard my first Cardinal game, in 1948, the broadcasts were originated by WTMV and WEW.  WEW was founded shortly after KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA. and was the first radio station west of the Mississippi River.  In front of me, as I put together this document, is a picture of Harry Caray in front of the WTMV microphone and Charles Evard “Gabby” Street in front of the one for WEW.

Without television the following of a baseball team and ultimately their stars depended upon radio.  The Cardinal network, during Musial’s prime, encompassed a group of stations from 45 to 90 each year in places as diverse as Carthage, Missouri where I first heard them to places such as; Ft. Smith, Ark., Paris, Tenn., Decatur, Ill., Paducah, KY, Tulsa, Okla., Little Rock, Ark., Burlington, Ia., Corinth, Mississippi, Terre Haute, Ind., Washington, Ind., Muscatine, Ia., Oklahoma City, Okla., Murray, KY, Topeka, Kan., Kansas City, MO and scores of others.  It would have been impossible to be in any town in the State of Missouri during that era and not be able to pick up the Cardinal broadcasts unless you didn’t have a radio or had one but no antenna.

The Cardinal baseball network was so extensive and popular that it caused a lot of problems with minor league operators who had to contend with broadcasts coming into their towns.  Finally, a rule was passed that Major League games, that was basically precipitated by the Cardinals, couldn’t be broadcast on any station within 50 miles where a minor league team existed and was playing a home game.  The only exception was if that minor league operation would wave the rule.  Carthage didn’t wave that rule and many a night I’d walk a mile, or so, to a radio shop that had a huge FM antenna and could pick up the Cardinal broadcast from KTTS-FM in Springfield, MO.  The Cardinal games were more preferable to many of the KOM league games I saw.  Many a night, sitting in the Carthage dugout, I’d hear Lee Hooker, the public address announcer, give the Cardinal score when the game was over.  And, the first question everyone had was “How did Musial do?”  Many of the fans of the 1951 Carthage Cubs remember Musial when he played against the Carthage Browns a decade prior to that.

An example of the problems caused by the blackout of the Cardinal games, by certain clubs, occurred in 1948.  Griesedieck Brothers Beer sponsored the Cardinal broadcasts.  With Carthage being a Cardinal farm team the beer company bought a huge space on the right-centerfield wall to advertise their product.  Then, came the ban on Cardinal games being broadcast into Carthage and a huge ruckus arose.  The brewery paid a sizeable sum for that advertising space and threatened to cancel their contract unless Carthage relented on the ban.  To say that I didn’t have to go back to the electric shop too many more times indicated what the Carthage folks decided.  The next season the Chicago Cubs took over at Carthage and the Griesedieck sign was gone.  I wonder why there was never any advertising of Wrigley’s Chewing Gum at the Carthage park?

Reader input on the death of Stan Musial

A reader expected as much:

You were first one I thought of last evening when watching ESPN and saw the announcement of Stan's passing.  Know this hurts you a lot John, from reading all you have shared about him the past few years. I await your impending words which I know will be forthcoming.  God Bless Stan Musial!
Casey Casebolt--in Metro Kansas City

Former friends of Stan and Lillian remember:

John, you, as well as the Musial Family, have been in my thoughts last night and today.  Even though we all knew this day would come, it still brings the feelings of sadness that you feel when losing a close member of the  family.  In a sense, he was a family member--our baseball family!  Both Stan and Lil were always so nice to Bill and me--we always knew them as genuine friends who always were gracious to us.  We were privileged to have been a part of the Cardinals so many years ago and to have known both Stan and Lil.  Blessings to all and may your memories bring you comfort at this time and always.

Bill and Shirley Virdon--Springfield, Mo.  We are on our way to Florida for Fantasy Camp and then Spring Training!


Bill Virdon started out in the KOM league with the Independence Yankees and five years later the Yankees traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals for Enos Slaughter.  Bill was the National league Rookie of the Year in 1955 and was later traded to the Pirates where he played on a World Championship team in 1960.  He had a long career as player, manager, coach and this year headed to spring training for the 64th time.  He has served with the Cardinals, Yankees, Pirates, Astros and Montreal Expos in that time.

Savannah gentleman recalls his youthful admiration:

John, I believe I know how you feel tonight as I feel the same from the loss of our hero Stan Musial.  It is hard for me to describe these feelings but I now realize he was such an important part of my formative years I believe I am a better person because of him, the Cardinals and baseball.  My relationship with him in spring training during the 1953 season was a highlight in my life and an inspiration to me.  I wish everyone had the opportunity I had to meet this marvelous human being.  I know that your heart is broken--so is mine
God bless you and your family.  Bob Zuccarini--Savannah, Georgia 

Comment:  This gentleman was born in the small north central Missouri town of Bevier.  He grew up idolizing Musial by virtue of St. Louis Cardinal broadcasts into his area and infrequent trips to St. Louis to see them play.  As fate would have it he was signed by St. Louis but it was the hapless Browns, not his favored Cardinals.  He was sent to Pittsburg, Kansas in 1951 where I saw him with the local Browns team for about one series and then it was back to Bevier, he hadn’t panned out.  The Cardinals knew something the Browns didn’t and within two years he hit .350 in the Georgia State league.  He spent a total of seven years at the minor league level and his greatest influence was Musial.

A Canadian remember Musial

One of my favorite baseball memories was the game I attended when Willie Mays got his 3000th hit against the Expos. I was fortunate to have both Stan Musial and Monte Irvin sign my program.  Barry McMahon- Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada

Comment:  To prove his point McMahon sent along a copy of those autographs.

The judge also can judge greatness:

Stan the Man is gone, one of baseball's greatest players ... And human beings.  Rest in peace, Donora Greyhound.  Gerald Rosen

Comment:  Gerald’s father was a short term member of the 1947 Iola, Kansas Indians.  Gerald’s father was from St. Louis and the family always held Musial in the highest esteem.  The Honorable Gerald Rosen is the Chief Judge of the Federal Court for Eastern District of Michigan.

Native St. Louisian and now a Jayhawk has many memories

Last Saturday, I felt like I lost a part of myself due to the passing of Earl Weaver and Stan Musial
on the same day.

I learned of Weaver’s death earlier in the day. and to my surprise, I felt like I lost a good friend although
our lives only touched for a short time while being with the Stockham Post Legion team back in August of 1945 (in St. Louis) and our telephone conversation in 1969 when he immediately recognized my voice, after 24 years, when I called him after his game in KC.  The year they (the Orioles) won the pennant but lost the World Series.]

Later in the day, I, along with many of us, lost their hero of many years, Stan Musial!!  What a difference in personalities but each was great in their special ways.

Their passing brought back many wonderful memories and also made me realize that happens to all of
us when we reach the age that I have.  It also makes me realize how fortunate I have been to have experienced living during the years these two men made the Baseball Hall of Fame. Take care’ Sam Dixon- Lawrence, KS

Comment:  Dixon was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946 and sent to Carthage, Mo.  He played in the KOM league for parts or all of 1946-47-48-50 and 51.  He lived in Chanute for many years before moving to the epicenter of Jayhawk country, Lawrence, Kansas.

Floridian pays tribute:

Sorry to hear of your friends passing.  He was a true American Hero.  But most of all your friend and hero.  RIP Stan the Man.  Bruce Hayse--Tallahassee, Fla.

Memphian remembers Stan:

John, so sorry to learn of the death of Mr. Musial.  Dave Chase--Memphis, Tenn,

Comment:  Dave Chase had a long affiliation with the Memphis baseball community and an untiring supporter of a shrine to minor league baseball.

Topekan’s conciseness

Thanks for sharing your thoughts (about Musial) today.

Dan Kay--Topeka, Kans.

A former Chicago Cub minor leaguer adored “The Man

Hi John, 1952, the year I found out I would never be a Stan Musial, my year at Blackwell (Okla.) let me know that.  He was my hero too. He gave to baseball whatever should be given, no one can match him.
Thanks for sharing your intimaye thoughts about him with all of us.  Thanks, Wayne, (that not so good shortstop)

Comment:  Wayne Benstead gave up baseball, after his one season in the KOM league, to become a DVM.  He has practiced his trade for many years in Delavan, Wisc.

A real hat

(I) received a Facebook message this morning of Cardinal Dolan in St Patricks Cathederal in NYC showing his St Louis Cardinal hat, given to him by Stan Musial, who told him "This is a real Cardinal hat."  Joe Fennessey-Colorado-

This Editor’s grandson was treated with respect

John, I have always enjoyed the great respect and admiration you have for Stan Musial. This current generation of sports fans have no idea of what a real idol should be. You were fortunate to have a person that you could truly idolize in all aspects of his life. I saw that someone wrote of Stan Musial, "I never heard anyone say one bad thing about him." How many other people do you think can have the same thing said about them? The only time I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Musial was back in 1988 or 1989 at a baseball card show in St. Louis. I had Tony who was about 2 with me and I brought his ceramic baseball bank to have autographed by Stan Musial. When it came our turn to hand him the bank to sign he shook it and said "You can't have a bank without any money in it." So he reached in his pocket and dropped a quarter in it. That quarter is still in the bank along with the great memory he gave us. Stan Musial: The Greatest Cardinal of All Time. A title he will share with no one.  Bucky Pescaglia--Columbia, MO

A short time later my son-in-law mustered this confession.  “Oh and my baseball hero was Pete Rose. I think you did a better job of picking.”

Read about Musial  in the Turner Report

John, I thought this might be of interest to you. Being a St. Louis Cardinals fan since before I started elementary school, I had to share my thoughts on the death of Stan Musial in the Turner Report.

One of the joys of my childhood began at age six when my dad introduced me to the joys of St. Louis Cardinals baseball on radio.

Until that time, my acquaintance with the Cardinals and other major league baseball players was solely through the cards on the back of Post cereal boxes.

Now I could listen night after night as Harry Caray and Jack Buck detailed the adventures of my favorite baseball team, whether they were in St. Louis, New York, or my favorite games, the ones I listened to after everyone else had gone to bed from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Even when the skies were cloudy and every other word on KMOX-AM was interrupted by static, I kept listening.

I don’t remember the opponent the Cardinals were playing the first night I listened, but I remember as clearly now as on that summer day in 1962, Harry Caray’s call when catcher Gene Oliver hit the game-winning home run. “It could be, it might be, IT IS…a home run.” That was Caray’s signature call, but I did not know that at the time.

I was hooked.

The next day, I took my bat and red rubber ball into the backyard, threw the ball into the air, hit it as hard as I could and ran around imaginary base paths, recreating the previous night’s game and games that were yet to come.

Cardinal players from years later are jumbled together in my mind, but I remember the Cardinals of 1962- Oliver, Ken Boyer, Julio Gotay, Julian Javier, Bill White, Curt Flood, Charley James, Curt Simmons, Ernie Broglio, and the great Bob Gibson.

But one Cardinal stood above them all, Stan “The Man” Musial.

It was a comeback year for the Cardinal star. After a 1961 season that had seen Musial slump, he rebounded at age 42 to hit .330 and remind Cardinal Nation of the greatness of his game in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

One of the saddest moments of my early years was when the 1962 season ended and I discovered I would have to wait until April to hear any more games.

That next year was the last one for Stan Musial.  The 1962 renaissance did not carry over. Musial had what would have been a solid year for any other player, but not for “The Man.”

Still, the Cardinals made a herculean effort to put Musial in the World Series for the first time since 1946. They won 19 of their last 20 games and finished one game behind the Dodgers. In those days, only one team from each league made it to the postseason.

Stan Musial retired after the 1963 season, greatly appreciated in the heartland, but never receiving anywhere near the same national attention as his peers, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio.

In St. Louis, Musial’s stature as the embodiment of the Cardinals never faltered, even as generations of fans were born long after he last graced Busch Stadium. Each year at opening day ceremonies, the largest ovation was reserved for “The Man.”

The opening game of the 2013 season will be a sad one for St. Louis Cardinals fans. Musial will be undoubtedly be there, but only as the greatest moments of his 23-year career are replayed on the jumbotron and as Cardinals and former Cardinals recall the man who made a difference, not only for Cardinals baseball, but for the St. Louis community during the past seven decades.

Stan Musial died today at age 92.

He came from a different era, one in which a stunning comeback at age 42 was not automatically coupled with suspicion of illegal substance use.

What better reminder during a week when the sports world was transfixed by a serial cheater, Lance Armstrong, and the imaginary girlfriend of Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o,  that there was a time when a quiet gentleman like Stan Musial served as a true role model for this six-year-old and so many othe

Comment:  Turner was a writer and Editor of the Carthage Press when Yours truly first met him.  He always did a great job of promoting the KOM league reunions.

A Massachusetts reader sent along reading material from eastern news sources

Bob Imperato-Boston, Mass.

Another Topekan pays tribute to “The Man.”

The only thing I knew about, I think I had told you but in case I hadn’t, Harland told me when he was at Spring Training with St.Louis that Musial was very cordial and treated lowly rookies, like Harland , as well as the seasoned players and Harland referred to him as a true gentleman and of course, like thousands and thousands of others was in awe of his exceptional talent.

Comment:  Harland Dean Coffman played for the 1948 Independence, KS Yankees of the KOM and was later drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and came close to making their roster after success with the Omaha Cardinals.  Coffman’s widow shared this in recent days.  “Yesterday I recalled that Dizzy Dean announced a game Harland pitched while at Spring Training with the St. Louis Cardinals.  I heard it on the radio.  I wish I had had a recorder at the time as that would have been something my grandsons would have enjoyed.  I remember Dizzy said ‘this young man reminds me of myself pitching.’  I asked Marty (son) if I had ever mentioned that to him and he said Harland did tell him one day when they were talking.”

Brooklyn Dodger minor leaguers admired Musial.

John, thanks for sharing.  He was truly a remarkable person and we can mark for praise.  Dick Wiegand--Sun City West, Ariz.
Comment:  Dick Wiegand was a top notch hurler for the 1951 Ponca City Dodgers.  He spent another five seasons in the minor leagues following an interruption brought on by the Korean War.

An Ohioan and transplanted Missouri remembers Musial

Outstanding John.  He was indeed a true gentleman. Baseball (and every sport) needs more like him. I sure he rests in peace! Hank Inman--Akron, OH

Musial was preferred over all the others
I just got this email, and I know it is late but I will tell you.  Years ago I covered the Mickey Mantle golf tournament in Grove, Oklahoma.  I worked for a TV station and we spent all weekend putting together a show with interviews that would air Sunday night.  It was a lot of hard work and it took a lot of people to pull this off. In fact we made it back to the station with about 1 minute to spare as Grove was a little over and hour from Joplin
I was excited, I would get to meet Stan Musial.  I had been a lifelong Cardinal fan and had recently moved from Kansas City.  While I lived in Kansas City I had season tickets to the Royals and the Cardinals.  Every time the Cardinals played in St. Louis I would travel to St. Louis for all three weekend games, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I loved Cardinal baseball and my roommate and I bought the season tickets together.  Bo Jackson played for the Royals and Jack Clark, Tommy Herr, John Tudor, Vince Coleman, Terry Pendleton were on the Cardinal’s team led by Whitey Herzog.    
So the weekend of the big golf tournament comes, I will meet Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Rollie Fingers, Jerry Kramer of the Packers, Bob Costas and many more people that were considered sports heroes.  All I wanted was to meet Stan Musial, that is all I wanted.  I could have taken clean baseballs by the dozens and gotten signatures, and I had one ball, reserved for Stan’s signature.  I finally met him, he had been ill just a week before so he wasn’t feeling very well, but he spent time with me and signed the baseball and took a few pictures with me and I was on cloud nine.    
After the weekend I immediately called my old roommate and rubbed it in.   In fact, I rubbed it in every time I got the chance.  Until one day during spring training.  I wasn’t able to buy season tickets any longer or go to the games because I had moved 5 hours from the home field – the old – the original – the one and only original Cardinals round Stadium.
So my ex-roommate called me and proceeded to tell me about the flight home from Florida’s Spring Training and how he sat by Stan Musial the whole time and had the most amazing experience and here is the topper:  “Your signed ball is priceless, but Stan signs them all the time, so it isn’t as rare as you think.”  Oh well.  Years later I met John G. Hall and he emailed a picture of Stan from a newspaper or calendar or something and I printed it off and for years it hung in my office.   
I heard of Stan’s passing from the roommate that I had around 26 years ago. I got a text.  And I heard about it again from a good friend, John G. Hall.  And of course I heard it from the national news time and time again.   Stan Musial was something to a lot of people.  He will never realize how much his nation loved him and how much he will be missed. Robin Douglas, M.Ed. Missouri Southern State University
A collector loved Musial’s consistency

John, I never got the pleasure of meeting Stan, but he, along with Ted Williams were my favorite players until I realized that I was a Yankee fan.  I always liked the way Stan was able to be consistent year to year, and always come across as a complete gentleman.  Not like most of today's pampered players.

Pretty sure you recall that I am a collector of baseball artifacts, and put up displays from time to time.  Always when I have speaking engagements though.  When I received your emails, I thought I might try and find some of my Musial items.  I spent some time today digging things out and have attached some photos of what I was able to come up with.  I hope you enjoy the photos, and if you want to share them feel free.  Bob Mayer

Comment:  Mr. Mayer indeed had a nice collection of Musial memorabilia of which he shared with downloads.

Skogjim (an e-mail appellation) liked Musial

Great job--enjoyed your write-up.  Wish they were all like Stan the Man.

Former big leaguer on two continents responded.

Very nice article, John.  I know that you are close to the Musial family, so did you know he was in Hospice. I’m sure you are having a sad moment.  “Even this will pass”--not said as a light gesture.   jds

Comment:  jds is Joe D. Stanka who played with the Ponca City Dodgers before making it to the Chicago White Sox in the American league and the Nankai Hawks in Japan.

A hero to another former minor leaguer

Stan was our hero to my brother and me growing up in the '40s and 50s!  What a loss!  It made my stomach sink when I heard the sad news.  --Bill O'Donnell--Raleigh, NC

Comment:  Bill and his brother grew up in Wisconsin and then Bill signed a contract with the New York Giants in the early 50’s and rode the buses around the bushes and enjoyed every moment of a baseball career he still relives on a daily basis.

My childhood buddy’s memory of Musial

The story I like best about Stan. He was at bat at an important ball game when an umpire made a bad call. Stan asked, "What did you call that?" The umpire said, " I'm sorry Stan but I really made a bad call on you." Stan replied, "That is O.K. don't worry about it."  Who besides Stan,  would say that to an umpire?  He was real class.  Gary W. Smith--Nixa, MO

Comment:  I sent this to Smith.  “We had a lot of moments didn't we?  You rooting for Slaughter and me the other guy.”  He responded “John, my best Christmas was the year I got an ‘Enos Slaughter’ play-maker ball glove.  The other day, while shopping at the Academy sports, I looked for a playmaker but didn’t see any. Saw lots of other high priced gloves made in China.”

Musial was loved in Chicago-land

John: Thank you for, as always, keeping me on your KOM mailing list. We are from Chicago (Aurora, Illinois) but my Dad was a Cardinal's fan and he, like you, loved "Stan The Man". Now he will have the chance to meet him as Dad has been gone for 40 years.

Your walking neighbor Denny Sutherland--Columbia, MO (whose Father-in-law, also gone now, loved your tomato plants!)

New Yorker listened to Cardinals while in Army

Hi John.  I was stationed in Lincoln, Neb. in 1962 and I listened to Cardinals on the radio, maybe KMOX, (Ed note the station was most likely, KFEQ in St. Joseph, MO at 680 on the dial) and was sitting on my bunk for this one game, I think near the end of the season.  Stan went 5-5 all singles as I remember. (not certain) and hoisted his average up to or a bit above .330 It was a thrill to listen to -  41 years old and hitting .330!  I couldn't believe he kept getting hit after hit but was praying each at bat and keeping my fingers crossed.  I know I was smiling a lot.

My mom took my brother and I to the Cooperstown HOF game twice, one of them happened to be in '57
when the Cardinals played the White Sox and got licked 13-4 as I today discovered, but Stan hit a screaming double into the right-field bleachers about 30 feet to the right of where we sat, 20-25 feet from the line.  The ball had a rather flat arc to it and never got more than 20 or so feet off the playing surface, landing about half way up the bleachers. I could see it curving in our direction in its flight.  That double in 2 at bats and then he came out.  It is the only hit I recall of the game, doubtless because Stan hit it.  Stan got replaced at first base and the game had less meaning after that so we went home.  130 mile drive each way.  We saw Stan Musial play!
The "Man" is gone from us, he surely has a special place.  Bruce Orser--Red Creek, NY

Along Route 66, in Southwest Missouri, was another Cardinal family and a “Stan The Man” unmarked grave

I also listened to hundreds of games on radio, which Stan the Man played in. I had the privilege of watching him play in a few games in St. Louis. Fortunately, my father was as big a Cardinal fan as I was, so when he could break away from the farm for a couple of days we would make the journey from Carthage to St. Louis along Route 66. I have told you before that I named my first dog after Musial. In elementary school, I had to write a paper about my hero, and I chose Stan. My sister and I played softball in our front yard. We always used professional players in our lineups, and Stan was always in mine, even though my sister wanted him as well. I refused to give in. After all, he was my hero. She claims Stan, my dog, was also her dog, but I'm the one who took care of him. Stan the Man will be missed by all. His contributions to baseball will never be forgotten.
Homer Hall

Comment to Homer:  Great story.  I hope you gave Stan a proper burial.  Isn't it funny how people wanted to butt in to our heroes?  I have one sister who hated my listening to the Cardinals and now in her advanced age thinks she listened to those ball games with me.  It never happened.  But, I'll let her think she was a Cardinal fan. Your dad had a head start of about 10 miles to St. Louis.  Was your dog buried in Avilla?  He responded with “My dog was buried on our farm just west of Avilla.”
Later Homer sent this observation.  . I even had my own imaginary baseball game I played with the traffic with runs scoring for the Cardinals with cars headed east. The first game ended at 1-0. The next game ended with the team that scored two runs (two cars passing our house), the third one with three cars, and so on until I would get to 10. Sometimes a game might end 10-9, or 9-10 if the Cards lost because more cars were heading west rather than east. Then I would start over at 1-0. There wasn't much else to do on a farm at night besides listen to the Cardinals and play imaginary games.

We  went to St. Louis games when dad had a break from farm responsibilities. My mother and sister never went. They had to stay home to milk the cows. I don't recall my sister complaining, but I'm sure she wasn't happy. She was and still is a big Cardinal fan. She has driven to St. Louis from Carthage several times. My wife and I lived in the St. Louis area for 36 years, so we saw a lot of Cardinal games--usually 15-20 a year. We always went to "Fan Appreciation Day," which was the last day of the season. I'm not sure when that started, or if it is still going.

After leaving Carthage High School Homer Hall, no kin to this writer, was never heard from until these reports commenced.  Here is what he shared about his life.  I share it to show the vast impact Musial had on the youngsters of my era and how he was never forgotten not matter where the young Cardinal fans went in life.  I'm in Tennessee. I have a B.S. from MU and an M.S. from KU. I'm now an adjunct instructor for Kent State University. I teach an online class for them entitled Media Management in the spring semester, which began last week. I also go to Kent every summer and teach a two-week course. I taught journalism most of my life, but both my degrees are in history. I minored in English at Mizzou. I also had ROTC in college, and when I went into the service I was made the Public Information Officer for my unit. When I started teaching in Kirkwood, at the time if you could teach English in Missouri, you could also teach journalism. Missouri later required 21 hours of journalism to teach it. I could have been grandfathered, but I eventually picked up over 40 hours of journalism credit starting with a Dow Jones Fellowship for five hours at the University of Minnesota. I never intended to be a journalism teacher, but I can't imagine my life without it. My wife was a journalism major, but when she taught she was primarily a history/English teacher. She taught me a lot about journalism. Without her knowledge, I'm not sure how I would have done the Army newspaper with just one enlisted man working for me. She's a gem. I knew that when I met her at KU 53 years ago on the only blind date I've ever had. You never know where your life is going to take you.

Fayetteville, Arkansas to St. Louis

John, In late summer 1958, after our Fayetteville (AR) Little League season ended with a loss in the local tournament, our sponsors - Coca-Cola (great looking uniforms) -  gave us a trip to Old Busch Stadium. We saw a doubleheader, Cardinals against the Pittsburgh Pirates. I still have several vivid memories of that day: seeing a major league ballpark for the first time with its amazing green infield; standing behind home plate to watch Bill Virdon (he'd already been traded from the Cards by then) lead off the second game with a homerun onto the roof of the right field pavilion; Roberto Clemente throwing from medium deep right field on a dead line to the third baseman (the ball never rose nor lowered the entire way). And - as I recall, Stan Musial had five hits in the doubleheader, driving in runs, just banging the ball all over the park like he always did. When we played pickup games at our local ball field, you had to imitate each batter from the big leagues that you were emulating. I remember doing that curl in on yourself and then whip out swing of Stan's many times.  He was fun to imitate because the swing was so unorthodox.

P.S. In the picture I attached of my Coca-Cola Little League team, I'm the little guy on the top row right next to the coach, Jim Newport. The monstrous boy on the top row is Freddy Rice who used to hit prodigious homeruns and later played basketball for the University of Arkansas.  Jerry Hogan--Fayetteville, Ark.

Comment:  Hogan is the historian for the old Arkansas State and Arkansas State leagues.  And, he did send along a photo of the 1958 Fayetteville team that saw Stan Musial play in 1958.

From Frontier League Commissioner

Very nice John (recognition of Musial) Tom Drake

Former Kansas City A’s batboy responds.
A very good article and "your" autograph picture is great!  Yes, he was "Stan the Man"!   Jim Jay
Comment:  Mr. Jay had to tolerate the 1956-57 assemblage of Kansas City A’s.
Thoughts of a Hospice acquaintance

I just heard the sad news of Stan Musial death. Sorry for your loss of friend and hero. He was the Greatest. Dr. Frank E. Houston--Columbia, MO

From a Boston boy who played in KOM and wound up in New York

John, I had the honor and privilege of being in the seats a couple of times to see Stan the MAN, once at Sportsman’s Park.  Lefty first basemen are the 'greatest',  ahem.  He's now up there with the Dean brothers and friends.  Bob Schwarz-Clifton Park, NY

Comment:  Schwarz was a first baseman at Iola in 1950.  Oh, did I mention he was left-handed? 

A former St. Louis Brown turned Cardinal remembers.
John:  Like you, Stan Musial was my favorite player by far.  I remember, as an 11 year old kid, when he came up in 1941 to play the outfield with Terry Moore and Enos Slaughter.  I played parts of three years as a lowly minor leaguer, two in the St. Louis Browns system and the last  in 1953 in the Cardinals'.  I was assigned to the Winston-Salem team in Spring Training at Albany, Georgia, in 53 before tearing up my arm.  The Cardinal hierarchy directed that all players be photographed in their Cardinal uniform.  I was a college student at Southeast Missouri State College in Cape Girardeau and  gave the photo to my girlfriend, later to be my wife, and she placed it on a piece of furniture.  She was rooming with 3 other girls when one of their friends came in, saw the picture and asked "which one of you girls knows Stan Musial"?  My photo did bear some resemblance to Stan but he was much better looking.

I have one distinct memory of Stan Musial .  Around 1958/59 I took my small son to Sportsman's Park to see the Cardinals and Milwaukee Braves play.  The Braves' pitcher that day was one of the greatest lefthanders in the game, Warren Spahn, who had no trouble getting anybody out except Musial, who wore him out.  Musial had already gotten a couple of hits before the Braves broke the game open.  Spahn then elected to sidearm Musial the next time up and Stan hit a rope into right  field for a double.  Spahn, in exasperation, placed both hands on his hips.  Playing with the Braves at that time was third baseman Eddie Mathews who I had pitched against at Camp Pendleton while in the Marines.  Mathews had been stationed at the Naval Recruit Depot in San Diego.  He never got a hit off of me since I walked him all 3 times that I faced him although I was doing my best to strike him out.  Mathews was a tremendous player but Musial was definitely superior in my opinion.

Bill Ashcraft--Kansas City
Comment:  Ashcraft, when signed by the St. Louis Browns, in 1950, was sent to Iola, Kansas, an independent team, as opposed to the Browns KOM league team at Pittsburg, Kansas.  Ashcraft later became a high ranking official in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and then stepped it up another notch when he was located by the KOM Flash Report and started sharing some of his great memories.

Those who wanted to share their thoughts about Musial have had the opportunity as far as this forum is concerned.  Never have I related a recurring dream I had for many years after Musial retired.  Each time, in my dream, I so wanted him to hit one more home run.  Most dreams are supposed to end like fairy tales and all your wishes come true. But, in my dreams he was never able to hit that last homer.  But, as I think of it now, between 1964 and 2013 he clobbered many over the pavilion in right field at Sportsman’s Park and on to Grand Avenue.  His exploits after baseball probably won him more fans than he had during his playing days.  Bye, Sir.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A former KOM League All-Star

The passing of David Elliott, former pitcher for the Bartlesville, Okla. Pirates occurred September 9, 2009. It was reported in the KOM League Flash Report of September 11. If you would like a copy of that article contact the KOM League Remembered.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ponca City Dodgers on Globe baseball cards

To see this photo enlarged click on it.

In the early 1950's baseball cards such as the ones shown for the 1952 Ponca City Dodgers were produced by the Globe Printing Company of Fresno, CA. These were used as advertising promotions for local businesses. The players in this set include Don Stewart, Morris Mack and Tony DeVelis. In 2009 Mack was living in South Dakota, Stewart in Canada. Devilis is deceased. Other photos from the Ponca City 1952 Ponca City Dodgers known to be in existence include: Boyd Bartley, Clyde Girrens, Russ Greenbush, Al Jarvis, Mike Ryan and Duke Stuart. Greenbush, Jarvis and Stuart are deceased. Stuart passed away in 1987 in Corte Madera, California, Jarvis drowned at Lake Ponca on May 28, 1958, while fishing, and Greenbush died October 26, 2006 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Other photos of former KOM League managers such as Frederick "Rip" Collins and Hershel Martin have been found. Collins managed the Independence Browns in 1952 and Martin piloted two ill-fated KOM League teams; the Bartlesville, OK and Pittsburg, KS Pirates. If anyone from any 1952 KOM League team recalls having a photo taken of this nature taken I'd love to hear from you. The name of the company producing the cards is not indicated anywhere on the card.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Plaque that honors former batboy

On June 12, 1999 this plaque was placed at the entrance of the ballpark at Carthage which was home to the Carthage Pirates, Browns, Cardinals and Cubs during the late 1930's and early 1940's and then from 1946-51.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mickey Mantle Before the Glory (Book #3 by John G. Hall

This book deals exclusively with the pre-Major League career of Mickey Mantle with the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids, the Independence, Kansas (KOM League) Yankees and the Joplin, Missouri (Western Association) Miners. The Foreword was written by Merlyn Mantle. has extensive numbers of pages that can be reviewed by going on the Internet. This book is available from many sources. Signed copies, along with a special Mickey Mantle lapel pin, produced specifically for the release of this book, is also available. Call John Hall at 573-445 8125 for details.

The KOM League Remembered (Book #2 by John G. Hall)

This book was published in 2004 by Arcadia of Chicago. It contains the best photos of the KOM League to be found anywhere. The book can be viewed on; Barnes & Noble. com and other websites by surfing the Internet. The book can also be purchased from the author complete with autograph. Call John Hall 573-445 8125 for details.

Majoring in The Minors (Book #1 by John G. Hall)

This is the history of minor league baseball in Carthage, Missouri. It features the Carthage Pirates of the Arkansas-Missouri League; The Carthage Browns of the Western Association and the Carthage Cardinals and Cubs of the KOM League.

Copies of this book are no longer available