Growing up in Saint Louis, I acquired an idea about the civic life lived by famous athletes that might not have been universally applicable. Stan Musial was accessible not only outside the ballpark after games but in it as well—in the old Busch Stadium, a catwalk over the concourse connected the Cardinals’ dugout with their locker room, and if you spotted Musial in his cleats clattering across it he’d stop and sign an autograph. During the off-season you were likely to spot him at the restaurant that had his name on the door. And when the morning paper held its annual Old Newsboys Day, and local celebrities on street corners handed out the paper and collected donations for childrens’ charities, Musial was one of those celebrities. And when a touring opera company staged Die Fledermaus in the Kiel Auditorium Opera House, Musial was one of the guests in the party scene. Saint Louis was a small city and Musial was someone who lived there and took part in its affairs. He retired there and died there.
In this regard, Musial was not unique then and he would not be unique now. But he’d come a lot closer.