You’re probably not from here, which means that you don’t understand. And that’s OK. I can’t blame you. It’s not your fault. People cannot choose where they are from anymore than they can choose who their parents are or what color there skin is. Hometowns don’t work like that. They are something you are born into, they are something that you are forced to adopt. Not even wishing upon a star can change the place that will--one way or another--always be your home.
Stan Musial isn’t from here either. He’s from a little town 28 miles or so outside of Pittsburgh, a little town called Donora, Pennsylvania. A little town built on the back of Zinc mills and the immigrants that labored in them. Immigrants like Lukasz Musial, Stan’s father, a man who worked so hard that the mills claimed his life in 1948. A man whose death cemented his son Stanley’s decision to get as far away from those very same mills as he possibly could. Far and away, on the other side of the Mississippi River, where Stan The Man’s legend forever remains sketched in granite.
No, Stan Musial isn’t from St. Louis. He is St. Louis. Much like Cal Ripken Jr. is Baltimore or Tony Gwynn is San Diego or Roberto Clemente is Pittsburgh. Only more. Those superstars lived and breathed for their respective cities.
Stan Musial lived and breathed with his, side by side, day after day after day until he didn’t have any more breathe left.
I wish I could paint this picture—the portrait of a hero standing among, not above, the people who worshiped him—more clearly for you, but I know that I cannot.
Stan Musial is St. Louis. Those are the only words I can conjure up to help you understand. But those words are not nearly enough.
In fact if you are not from here, those words probably mean nothing to you at all. And that’s OK. I don’t blame you. It’s not your fault.
It’s just the cold hand of fate deciding that this man belongs to me, and that you would never really be able to know how much that belonging truly means.