self-made men from poor backgrounds, Musial is a liberal, and his liberalism
seems to deepen as he ages.
think Polish jokes or Jewish jokes or black jokes are really funny," he
said. "My dad came out of Poland and worked like hell all his life. What
was funny about that? Pulaski came out of Poland and helped out in the American
Revolution. Was that a joke? I've just come back from Poland, and I enjoyed the
country, the people and seeing them work hard building high rises. Some of them
knew me. I brought my harmonica along and played a little."
Red River Valley."
At the park, fans
flooded toward his box, demanding autographs and making it difficult to study
the game. Musial singled out Pete Rose for praise and said he felt embarrassed
that so many major-leaguers were hitting in the .200s. "There's no excuse
for that. You know why it happens? They keep trying to pull everything, even
low outside sliders. You can't do that. Nobody can. If you're a major league
player, you ought to have pride. Learn to stroke outside pitches to the
opposite field. That's part of your job. A major league hitter is supposed to
be a professional."
"Do you miss
playing?" I said as Rose rapped a single up the middle.
Musial said. "Nice stroke, Pete. I quit while I still enjoyed it, but I put
in my time. I like to travel now, but not with a ball club. Have you ever seen
Ireland? Do you know how beautiful it is?"
After the game,
we drove back to Musial's restaurant, and a crowd surrounded him in the lobby.
He said to each, "How are ya? Where ya from?" One 50ish man was so awed
that he momentarily lost the power of speech. He waved his arms and sputtered
and poked his wife and pointed. Musial clapped the man gently on the back.
"How are ya? Where ya from?" Musial said to him again. The man looked
as if he might weep with joy. At length he recovered sufficiently to say a
single word, " Fresno."
happen all the time?" I asked.
something?" Musial said. "And I'm 13 years out of the business. You
know what Jack Kennedy said to me once? He said they claimed he was too young
to be President and I was too old to be playing ball. Well, Jack got to be
President, and two years later, when I was 42 years old, I played 135 games and
I hit .330."