Sports Talk: Remembering Stan ‘The Man,’ Robby, and others
A March 12, 1960 souvenir scorebook, featuring the St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Yankees spring training opener at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., cost 15 cents.
My grandpa, who took yours truly to his first major league baseball game, purchased it, and also kept score.
Turning the pages, the rosters of both ballclubs are revealed, showing uniform numbers and surnames only. Back then, all baseball fans were very familiar with the first names of Yankees like Mantle, Berra, Stengel, and perhaps the greatest Cardinal of all – Musial.
This past Saturday, Stan “The Man” Musial died at the age of 92. On that same day, former Baltimore Orioles skipper Earl Weaver also passed away.
In 1960, at age 39, Musial was beginning his 19th season with the Cards. He ended up playing the game (all with the same franchise) until he was 42, and his last hit of which he had 3,630 was a single past Cincinnati Reds rookie second baseman Pete Rose.
Bill “Robby” Robinson, the late Marietta Times sports editor/writer, was a big Stan Musial and St. Louis Cardinals fan. Often, he would wear the Cards’ ballcap while covering his beloved Marieta College Pioneers in the Don Schaly Stadium press box.
On that long ago, sunny afternoon game in Florida, Musial started at first base and hit third in the batting order behind leadoff man Joe Cunningham (right field) and Daryl Spencer (shortstop), who finished with three singles to help the Solly Hemus-managed Cardinals beat the Yanks, 5-1.
Ken Boyer (third base) batted cleanup; Bob Nieman (left field), fifth; Curt Flood (center field), sixth; Hal Smith (catcher), seventh; and Alex Grammas (second base), eighth.
Righty Larry Jackson started on the hill for the Cards.
St. Louis also had a future Hall of Famer on its roster by the name of Bob Gibson, but he didn’t throw in this game.
The Yankees started and countered with Whitey Ford on the mound, Ken Hunt (center field), Bobby Richardson (second), Gil McDougald (short), Bill Skowron (first), Yogi Berra (third), Roger Maris (left), Hector Lopez (right), and Elston Howard (catcher).
Mickey Mantle wasn’t even on the premises that day due to a contract dispute with the Yankee front office.
Interestingly, Berra was at the hot corner, and Maris, in his first season as a Yankee, was positioned in left.
The Bronx Bombers got on the board first on two-out hits by McDougald, Skowron and Berra, respectively. But the Cardinals came back to tie the score with a run in the third, went ahead with two runs in the seventh, and plated two more in the eighth.
Musial didn’t figure in on any of the scoring in this game, and was subbed for late in the game by Leon Wagner, who had an eighth-inning double.
A couple of days later, a visit to Sarasota (not far from St. Petersburg) to see the Chicago White Sox play the-then Milwaukee Braves capped a very memorable baseball journey for a wide-eyed youngster to the Sunshine State.
Sadly, many of the aforementioned names are no longer with us as time is of course unyielding.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org