By Matt Keppel
In a world of social media, reality TV, and 24-hour news I believe that we have a difficult time finding figures to look up to, those people that were once deemed “heroic.” Instead of the traditional hero, we have “personalities,” people who seem larger than life and act like it too. These are the individuals who party all the time, manage to find their way to the field the next day, somehow are able to start the game, lather, rinse and repeat. The ability for someone to do that certainly seems superhuman to me. (I, for one, am susceptible to the dreaded two-day hangover so you can understand my amazement.) These figures are with dramatic flaws who care little for those who see them as role models. It is a tragic disregard for the place of authority that sports and media figures have. There was once a better way, and I believe we can get there again.
I feel blessed to have grown up in St. Louis for many reasons (it’s really a great place), but one of them certainly is because of the St. Louis Cardinals. I do not love the organization for their prowess as a baseball club. Rather, it is because of the man who shaped the organization. Few sports franchises can point to a single person who changed their trajectory in such a positive and lasting way: the Yankees have George Herman “Babe” Ruth; the Canadiens have Jean Beliveau; the Cardinals have Stan “The Man” Musial.
Stan passed away over a year ago. If you get a chance at some point, look up Stan’s stats along with some articles. He was a man more than a legend; the very definition of consistency and class. In a world of athletes who move from woman to woman, Stan was a family man. He was active in his parish, and a great donor to the Archdiocese of St. Louis. His anthem of hard work and teamwork is one that echoes through the Cardinals to this very day, so much so that they codified it, calling it “The Cardinal Way.”
This is not my way of bringing you the Gospel of the Cardinals (not that ya’ll don’t need it), but rather showing you that there are still heroes, men and women always striving to be better. One of mine just happens to be “The Man.” His life helps to remind me what is important in life: God and family. Everything else is there to support those.
What sports-figures do you admire and why?