"Why not?" said Musial.
Richie Ashburn, now a Philadelphia broadcaster, walked up to discuss a TV interview scheduled to go on in five minutes. It turned out that through a slipup nobody had bothered to tell Musial about it.
"Why not?" said Stan. "Let's get out there and go to work."
Musial played his 3,000th major league game that day when he pinch-hit in the 10th inning with two out, the score tied and Curt Flood on first. The crowd stood and screamed for a hit but Musial fouled out.
Before Sunday's game Toomey came to Musial in the clubhouse and told him that John Quinn, general manager of the Phillies, wanted to speak to him but didn't want to invade a visiting dressing room. Musial went to the door and Quinn shook his hand. "I've enjoyed seeing you play these many years," Quinn said. "I just want to wish you the best. You are one of the great gentlemen in the history of the game."
Mrs. Musial was in her usual box behind the visitors' dugout for all three of her son's last games in Pittsburgh. Since he joined the Cards in 1941 she has missed seeing him play in Pittsburgh only twice. "I missed those two," Mrs. Musial recalled before Saturday afternoon's game, "after I got sick at the ball park and they had to carry me away to the hospital. They took out my gall bladder, but I left the hospital in a week and was back at the park the next time Stan came to town."
In a nearby box sat Dr. Michael Duda, Musial's old high school baseball coach. Dr. Duda is now president of California (Pa.) State College. "For me he was a pitcher," Dr. Duda reminisced, "but he hit so well I played him in the outfield when he wasn't pitching. The trouble with him as a schoolboy pitcher was that we couldn't find anyone who could catch him. He might strike out 18 men but half of them would get to first on dropped third strikes."
Before the game a beauty queen from Cumberland, Md. gave Musial a key to that city. The city of Pittsburgh gave him a plaque proclaiming it to be Stan Musial Weekend. There were more certificates and plaques from the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the American Ethnic Groups. Mrs. Musial, in pink cotton, stood at Stan's side by home plate, clutching in one hand a new baseball, as if the feel of it reassured her that her connection with the game would remain unbroken. A mail truck rolled up and deposited 16 sacks of mail, sent to Musial as a result of a promotion stunt by KDKA, the radio station that broadcasts Pirate games. Among the letters was one from a small boy saying to Musial, "I hope things work out well for you."
Musial, who hit his first major league homer in Forbes Field in September 1941, struck out, grounded out and flied out in September 1963.
In Cincinnati the night of September 20 it was not so much the years as the days that finally caught up with Musial. He had played in 22 of the Cardinals' last 24 games, a far more demanding playing schedule than he had followed most of the year. The Cards lost that night to the Reds 1 to 0 and it suddenly struck Musial that a brave effort had finally come to nothing. Even after their three losses to the Dodgers the Cardinals had maintained a bold front and some wild hopes, based mostly on mathematics. But the shutout at the hands of the Reds ended all Cardinal pennant chances. The rest of the players knew it—and Musial knew it.