Sunday, August 1, 2010

Catching up with Stan Musial

My favorite Sports Illustrated of the year arrived in the mail yesterday – no not the swimsuit issue, the “Where-are-they-now?’’ issue.

I’ve always loved nostalgia pieces and catching up with people I’ve followed from years past. And I was happy to see that one of my all-time favorite ballplayers and people – Stan “The Man’’ Musial – on the cover.

I’ve always contended the seven-time National League batting champion and three-time MVP was perhaps the most underappreciated athlete of all-time. Part of it was because he played in a small market (St. Louis) and was overshadowed by the more charismatic stars of his era – Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

Musial lacked their flair, both on and off the field, but there is something to be said, as the article points out, for quiet excellence.

When Stan was a young man, he played briefly with the Rochester Red Wings, hitting .326 with 10 doubles, 4 triples, 3 homers and 21 RBIs in 54 games in 1941. I had a few chances to interview Musial through the years and he always spoke fondly of Rochester, his final stop of the road to the Hall of Fame.


There are two other Rochester connections in this issue – one involving Olympic gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte, who grew up here before moving away as a teenager, and one updating Jason McElwain, better known to the world as J-Mac. I realized that J-Mac, the former student manager with autism who captivated everyone by scoring 20 points in a varsity basketball game for Greece Athena High School, had been helping coach Jim Johnson in basketball. But I wasn’t aware he also was helping coach baseball at the school, too.

And while we are on the subject of J-Mac, Jim Johnson and Mike Latona, a reporter with the Catholic Courier, are working on a behind-the-scenes book about that incredible moment in time and the lessons learned. I’ve had a chance to read part of the manuscript and it is very compelling. I’ll keep you updated on when it is going to be published, etc.


On a sadder note, it appears that former Churchville-Chili standout Averin Collier may not be back with the Syracuse U. football team this year because of academic problems. I hate to see kids blow opportunities like this, especially when it involves a $200,000 scholarship. Hopefully, he can get things straightened out.

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