Stan's funeral was just as unbelievable as he was

Posted by Scott Wuerz on January 26, 2013 

After the three-hour plus funeral mass, the ceremony at the statue in his honor at Busch Stadium and several hours of conversation about the life of Stan Musial I feel exhausted and mentally drained.

But I'm glad that I -- and that we all -- had a chance to share in the services for the greatest Cardinals player -- if not the greatest St. Louis resident -- who ever lived.

I have no doubt that Stan knew his family loved him. But I wonder if he could have possibly imagined the week-long outpouring of love that he inspired as we all took one more nostalgic lap around the bases with Stan the Man.

The number of people who came to Musial's wake was amazing, as was the turnout Saturday at the ballpark. I'm trying to think of anyone else in the country who could command such a crowd. And it was awesome how respectful everyone was. It seems impossible that such a spectacle could be so dignified.

Broadcaster Bob Costas has become the go to guy for athlete eulogies. So it seems like he'd run out of original things to say. But, I deny any bias when I say that I thought Stan the Man's eulogy was the best that he has ever delivered. It seemed genuinely from the heart even before Costas stopped to fight back tears when he talked about how Musial embraced African-American ballplayers to set a positive example when it was, sadly, a controversial thing to do so.

I didn't envy Stan's relatives when the had to follow Costas. But they did a remarkable job, too. And it was great to meet Musial's blood family (as opposed to his baseball family) to give us all an idea of what his life was life away from ballplayers and Busch Stadium.

It was very sad to feel that the world is a worse place without Musial in it. But it was also very happy to realize that he lived his life to the fullest. And it almost was too much to take when Stan's son in law talked about how he believes that Stan's back to being a dark-haired, 20-year-old in all his glory somewhere in the great beyond with his buddies that passed on before him.

The moment when fans gathered at Busch Stadium cheered as Stan's limo pulled away was something that couldn't have happened anywhere else. Who cheers at a funeral -- much less breaks into a chorus of Take Me Out to the Ballgame? But what could have been more appropriate for the life of the baseball party?

As I watched Stan the Man age over the years I thought, with a lot of dread, about the inevitability that some day he would be gone. But I never imagined the fellowship, hope and joy that Musial would bring as he brought us all together on a seemingly impossible scale.

Stan the Man, you hit it out of the park one last time. I know I'm going to miss you in the coming days. But today you're fingerprints were all over St. Louis. And I hope they never fade.

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