Musial played the entire game and afterward he sat almost motionless for 20 minutes in front of his locker, half out of his uniform, sipping a paper cup of beer. He was silent and he was exhausted. There is no gray in Musial's hair at 42, but that night there was gray in his face, and lines of weariness.
"I never saw a team make a better effort than this one did over the last three weeks," he finally said. "Tonight I'm tired and I feel it, but I don't feel as let down as I would if I were younger. You don't get much keyed up over anything at my age. When we left San Francisco late in August I wasn't even thinking about a pennant. We were fighting to stay out of fifth place. Then, as we started to win, I began to let myself think we had a chance, but I don't think I ever got too excited. I'm too old for that. I was glad to be playing and I just tried to do my job. I got a kick out of hitting that home run off Podres in the first game of the Dodger series but not as big a kick as I would have got 15 years ago. We had a real good shot at the Dodgers at certain points in each of the three games. A hit or two at the right place would have won each game. But we didn't get them and that's that."
In the lobby of the Netherland Hilton the next afternoon Musial encountered a small band of youngsters who had been roaming the lobby and corridors of the hotel since early morning in search of him. He began to sign his name for them rapidly, and then, without warning, an astounding event took place: Musial finally ran out of patience. A tousled boy handed him a pad. "Sign eight times on eight different sheets," he ordered. "Why not?" said Musial.
"And now," said the boy, "one more thing. I want you to come across the street with me and walk down to the end of the block and say hello to my mother and father. They're waiting in the car for me."
"No," said Musial.
The next afternoon 25,706 turned out to see him play his final game in Cincinnati. In high spirits once again he spontaneously struck up a dialogue with Joe Garagiola, the broadcaster and an old Cardinal teammate, burlesquing those ballplayers who bemoan the passing of the good old days.
"Then," shouted Musial in mock bitterness, "we didn't have any radio or any television or any writers following us around. We just played ball."
"That's right," agreed Garagiola. "We didn't have any bats, we just played ball."
"We didn't have ceremonies at home plate," said Musial. "We just played ball and we hit .370. Kids today have it too easy. We just played ball."
"No batting helmets either," snarled Garagiola. "We just let our hair grow long and we just played ball."