Cheap Seats

More thoughts on Musial

I've heard a lot of response about the Murray Chass rip job on Stan Musial. Most people have told the same stories I have always heard about how Stan the Man stood up for Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays when they integrated baseball.

But a tip of the Cheap Seats cap to reader techman who reminded me about passages in two books that I have read, David Halberstam's October 1964 and Peter Golenbock's The Spirit of St. Louis.

In October 1964, Halberstam talks about how Musial gave up his perk of staying in a rented house during spring training when new Cardinals owner Augie Busch learned, upon buying the Cardinals, that the players stayed in different hotels because of segregation. Busch pulled the club out of the whites only hotel where it had previously stayed and put the players all in one place.

"Even Stan Musial, who had both the right, as a senior star, and the money to rent a house for his family during spring training -- something he had looked forward to in the past -- stayed at the motel and was part of the team. That made a great difference, for Musial was not only one of the two or three greatest players of his era, he was one of the most beloved as well: he seemed to live in a world without malice or meanness, where there was no prejudice and where everyone was judged on talent alone."

Spirit of St. Louis mentions the infamous incident at Musial and Biggies in 1965 on which Chass bases his ugly attack against Musial. As the reader points out, that book quotes Flood directly, while Chass uses third-hand accounts of the situation that are inconsistent at best.

In the book, Golenbock quotes Flood as saying that Musial "turned livid" when he learned that Flood had been turned away by the staff of his restaurant and that Flood did, in fact, return to Musial and Biggie's to eat. When he arrived on the later occasion Flood said he was treated like royalty at the eaterty -- all on Stan the Man's orders.

Thanks for pointing those stories out. I read those books, which are both great and should be read by every Cardinals fan, but it was so long ago that, while I remembered the passages, I couldn't remember where I saw them.