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"Maybe one reason I'm so cheerful is that for more than 20 years I've had an unbeatable combination going for me--getting paid, often a lot, to do the thing I love the most. The love is important, but let's not pretend: so is the money. My old Cardinals coach, Mike Gonzalez, used to say to me, 'Musial, if I could hit like you, I'd play for nothing.' Not me. But I wouldn't play for the money without the fun."
The first two cities Musial visited after he announced his retirement plans were Los Angeles and Houston. In Los Angeles the Dodgers and the local baseball writers gave him the first two of many plaques. Musial said he was glad he was in the restaurant business, because the wall of a restaurant is a good place to hang a plaque. An organization called the Vikings, a convivial group, gave a lunch for him at his favorite Hollywood restaurant, Scandia. The Vikings gave Musial a Cardinals-red rocking chair and a vastly oversized old-fashioned glass on which was embossed STAN THE FRIEND.
Milton Berle told his wife by telephone from New York to be sure to visit Chavez Ravine and give Musial a box of the $1.50-apiece cigars that Berle favors. Musial is too restless to savor a big cigar, to sit and smoke and contemplate. He chain-smokes small cigars, only slightly larger than cigarettes. Consequently, Berle's cigars kept appearing in different mouths: in San Francisco, for instance, in that of Chub Feeney, vice president of the Giants; of Garry Schumacher, the team's public-relations director; and of Jim Toomey, who has the same job for the Cards.
What Musial cannot use he likes to give away. As his longtime friend and roommate, Red Schoendienst, put it, "Musial is the most generous man I have ever known--to everybody but the pitchers. He is not only generous to people who need generosity; he's just as generous to those who don't."
By the time the Cardinals went to San Francisco on Aug. 26, Musial's progress from city to city had taken on all the aspects of a farewell tour. San Francisco's mayor, George Christopher, proclaimed Musial honorary mayor and asked him to come by his office to pick up his commission.
Musial is a household name in America but not a household face. He often goes unrecognized. At a traffic stop on the way to Christopher's office the driver of the cab in which Musial was riding turned, looked him squarely in the eye and told him that if he wanted to see a ball game, the Giants and Cardinals were playing that night. Musial was shown into Mayor Christopher's large and deep-carpeted office. Musial told the mayor he should order the Giants to lose. Christopher told Musial that if he got any hits, the honorary mayor would be removed from office. Musial went hitless against the Giants. He hit two balls hard, but Mays's long, easy strides enabled him to run them both down.
After the game some 2,000 fans pressed against the wired-off runway through which both Giants and visiting players emerge from their clubhouses. Mays had hit his 400th homer that night, and when he appeared, there were cheers and demands for his autograph. But when Willie departed, no one else did. They all stayed, waiting for Musial. When he finally emerged, moving with his characteristic short, brisk strides, he looked to neither side but headed straight into the Cardinals' bus, to a concert of cries of disappointment. But once seated in the bus, he did what he always does and rolled down his window and started signing balls and programs thrust toward him. He did this for some 10 minutes. When the bus started down Cardiac Hill outside the ballpark, youngsters clung monkey fashion to the outside. With an affability that would cause shudders in the National Safety Council, Musial scrawled his name on the assorted blank spaces offered to him until the last small fry dropped off.
Back at the Palace Hotel, Musial worked his way through the usual swarm of autograph hunters awaiting the Cardinals' bus. Then he and Schoendienst headed for the shrouded dimness of the Tudor Room in one corner of the hotel. Since they first became teammates, in 1946, Musial and Schoendienst have been close friends off the field. On the road they keep to themselves. "Both Red and I have always taken the attitude that we came to a city to play ball," Musial said. "We haven't made any particularly close attachments on the road. But we have certain places we like to go and certain things we like to eat in most of these places. I like the sole amandine at Maxim's, a French restaurant in Houston. In Los Angeles at Scandia there isn't anything on the menu I don't like. When we're in Pittsburgh, I often go home to see my mother in Donora. Here in San Francisco there are so many great restaurants, but I guess my two favorites are Doros and the Blue Fox. This room here is also one of my favorites--especially when Red Nichols and his band are playing here. I hoped they'd be here this trip. Red Nichols always comes over, and we talk."
It is hard work being a hero, but Musial is an obliging man. To almost every demand or request, he has a stock answer. He will pause for a moment, appear to debate with himself and then reply, "Why not?" On a Wednesday afternoon in Candlestick Park he said, "Why not?" to a request from Charles Einstein to appear on a television documentary he was making on Mays. He said, "Why not?" to Jack Buck, one of the Cardinals' broadcasters, who was preparing a documentary on Branch Rickey. He said, "Why not?" to a stranger in a box seat who asked him to come over and pose for a photograph with his two daughters because "It's their birthday," although patently they were not twins.
Later Musial was given still another plaque. It was presented at home plate by the old major league pitcher Walter (Duster) Mails, now with the Giants' front office. As plaque English goes, it was not bad: BATTING CHAMPION, DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN, ADMIRED FRIEND. ALL BASEBALL HAS BEEN ENRICHED BY HIS LONG ASSOCIATION WITH THE GAME. IN GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT THIS PLAQUE IS PRESENTED BY THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS.