Blues honor Cardinals legend Stan Musial

ST. LOUIS — The street hockey records from the 1930’s in Denora, Pa., don’t seem to exist but if they did, Stan Musial’s name would probably have been somewhere on the list.

A day after the baseball Hall of Famer was laid to rest after passing away a week earlier at the age of 92, the St. Louis Blues honored Musial by wearing jerseys with his name and No. 6 on the back for pregame warmups prior to their home game against the Minnesota Wild Sunday night.

Known as a tremendous athlete who could have success in anything he did, Musial probably ended up picking the right sport. The left-handed hitter played his entire 22-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals and won three MVP awards, seven batting titles and made 24 All-Star teams.

Fittingly it was defenseman Wade Redden, who wears No. 6, who scored the first goal of the game to put the Blues up 1-0 midway through the first period of what turned out to be a 5-4 overtime win.

“Just the aura around Busch Stadium, you see the statue and you go to a ball game and it’s, ‘Meet at Stan,'” said defenseman Barret Jackman, who has been in St. Louis since 2002. “His legend in this town and just what he did, the icon he is away from the field is something that everybody should look for.

“Any time you get to pay respect to such a legend and such a man, you wear it with pride and this organization definitely knows about pride and the guys that paid the way and he was one of them for the Cardinals.”

Musial has two statues outside Busch Stadium. The larger and more famous of the two serves as a meeting spot for Cardinals fans before games. Fans have spent the last week putting flowers, notes, baseballs, beer cans and other Musial-related items at the base of the statue.

Blues players autographed the jerseys and they were auctioned off during the game to raise money for Cardinals Care, the charity foundation of the Cardinals.

Musial was also honored during a pregame ceremony in which his grandson Brian Schwarze, who helped take care of him on a daily basis in recent years, dropped the ceremonial first puck as the crowd stood and cheered wildly.

“Just hearing the stories and the type of guy he was, it was pretty special,” said Blues goalie Brian Elliott. “I think this is a great sports town and they honor the greats that have played here so it was pretty cool to see everybody in that No. 6.”

Musial is the Cardinals’ franchise all-time leader in games played, at-bats, runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, walks and extra-base hits. At the time of his retirement in 1963, he held or shared 17 major-league records.

He hit .331 and had 475 home runs and 1,951 RBIs during his career and led the league in doubles eight different times. He finished his career with 3,630 hits — exactly 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road.

Musial is also celebrated for skipping the 1945 season to serve in the Navy in World War II. When he returned a year later, Musial won his second MVP award and led the Cardinals to the 1946 World Series title.

“I know what Tony La Russa said,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “One of the reasons the Cardinals have such a strong following here is because guys like him led the charge and stayed in the city connecting with the fans and making sure that the fans were taken care of.

“I think the healthy respect that the Cardinals have is a lot because of him and a lot of the other players. I think a lot of people followed his lead and I think the current players understand commitment to the community because of stuff Stan did. Tony felt very strongly about that, that’s the reason that the players make a connection to the community led by a guy like him.”