ST. LOUIS — Stan Musial -- or at least the memory of him -- was a surprise guest at the 55th Annual St. Louis Baseball Writers Dinner Sunday night.
Musial, who died Saturday at the age of 92, was the topic of conversation before and during the writers dinner at the Millennium Hotel in downtown St. Louis.
"Stan Musial is the greatest Cardinal ever, and always will be. And so we honor Stan Musial tonight," said Cardinals radio broadcaster John Rooney, who was serving as emcee of the dinner.
The greatest player in Cardinal history was also remembered in a short tribute video at the beginning of the event, which often honored Musial during and after his playing career.
"You'd have to go around the world twice to find a better person than Stan Musial. ... No, I've never met a better person," said former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog in a comment read by St. Louis Post-Dispatch Hall of Fame sports writer Rick Hummel.
Although the 2012 season was just Carlos Beltran's first season with Cardinals, the veteran outfielder was well aware of what Musial meant to the franchise and the community.
"A highlight of my career for me was Opening Day, when I got to shake the hand of Stan Musial," Beltran said. "We have to remember what he meant to this city."
Yadier Molina was honored as the St. Louis Man of the Year, but chose not to attend.
Other award winners include 2012 Cardinal players David Freese, Beltran, Allen Craig, Mitchell Boggs and Jon Jay, and manager Mike Matheny.
St. Louis pitcher Jake Westbrook received the Darryl Kile Award, named for the late Cardinals pitcher.
Fellow Redbirds starter Adam Wainwright received the Physical Comeback Award; he won 14 games after missing all of the 2011 season following elbow surgery.
The writers also honored former Cardinals slugger Mark Whiten, who hit four home runs and drove in 12 runs in a game in 1993.
Musial played 22 seasons, hitting .331 with 475 home runs and 1,951 RBIs. He had 3,630 hits, won the National League MVP Award three times, and played in 24 All-Star games -- in the early years of that game, two were played each season.
Highlights from the dinner will be broadcast on KMOX AM-1120 on Monday evening after the St. Louis Blues afternoon road game against the Nashville Predators.