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"Why not?" said Stan. "Let's get out there and go to work."
Musial played in 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 ballpark 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 Michael Duda, Musial's former high school baseball coach. Duda is now president of California (Pa.) State College. "For me he was a pitcher," 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 Pirates 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 Sept. 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. St. Louis lost that night to the Reds 1-0, 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 Cardinals pennant chances. The rest of the players knew it--and Musial knew it.
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 Johnny Podres in the first game of the Dodgers 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. But we didn't get them, and that's that."