|Stan The Man|
Stan "The Man" Musial died last weekend at the ripe old age of 92. Anyone my age or older knows who Stan Musial was - one of the greatest ballplayers of his time. He played for The St. Louis Cardinals his whole 22 year long career. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a nice little piece in the Op-Ed pages about him. I was thirteen when Musial retired but like every other kid in America at that time, my formative years were the era of Stan Musial. The Cards and the Cubs had a fairly strong rivalry back then, as they still do today, so when the Cards came to town, you were going to hear about Stan Musial in the papers, on the radio and on television. I even had a copy of Stan Musial's hit record. - pretty sure I've still got it around here somewhere, in fact. Like many others, I was a fan even it did mean the home team was in trouble when the Cards came to town.
When my wife and I took our first big vacation after getting married when went to St. Louis. Not sure why now. It was summer and hot and humid. Miserable hot, but we went to Stan & Biggies restaurant while we were there. At that time it was the nicest restaurant I'd ever been in. Valet parking, waiter with the towel over the arm - the whole enchilada. Actually, more like lasagna but you get the point. Stan The Man and his pal Biggie ran a nice joint.
I'm not sure how, but apparently my respect and admiration of Musial must have rubbed off on my son, Surly. One year I got a framed photograph of Musial for Christmas from him. It's a classic baseball photo. Black and white, of course. Musial kneeling in the on deck circle with the bat over his shoulder. I also ended up with a Cardinal jersey recently with Musial's name and number on the back from Surly. He said it was too big for him and I'm sure he knew that I'd wear it with pride.
Coincidentally, or maybe not so, The Wall Street Journal yesterday also had another Op-Ed piece titled "Lance Armstrong and Our Unheroic Age" by Warren Kozak. I'm assuming from the article that Mr. Kozak and I are about the same age and he mentions growing up in the Midwest, as did I, so I'd be willing to bet that he too is a Stan Musial fan. But those days are gone:
Consider the past two weeks in sports. Lance Armstrong has gone from cancer-stricken superman on two wheels to performance-enhancing confessor on Oprah. And for the first time in 40 years, voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame elected not a single player. The steroid scandals apparently did in the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons.
Forget about athletes as role models. It would just be nice if there were more fathers in the house.
Today, out-of-wedlock births in America surpass 40%. In some quarters, this fact is not even lamented. But when the father is missing because he has left or was never there in the first place, a boy will fill that vacuum with whomever his young mind can latch on to. The hero possibilities these days give boys - and girls, for that matter - some pretty bleak choices to fill the void.
|My Old Man|
I was extremely fortunate in that I did grow up with decent role models, the guy in the above photo being the primary one. That's my Pop. Another member of the Greatest Generation, like several of my neighbors and uncles. Guys that came home from the war and went about their business of finding jobs, raising families and doing what life demanded of them. They were all leading by example but I'm sure they didn't even think about that. Just doing what a man was expected to do.
Having seen all kinds come and go during my 36 years in the high school classroom, I'm now starting to see certain patterns at the college level that are most certainly a direct result of the parenting skills, or lack there of, at this higher level. Not much of a surprise, high school kids get older, after all.
I keep tossing around the idea of writing something a little more in depth than just this blog and there are only two things that I would consider myself an authority on, welding and education. So if I were to decide to write some big-ass tome on education, would it all ultimately boil down to the fact there just aren't any more Stan Musials out there? That everything would be Jake if every kid had a kind and loving mom and pop to come home to every day after school? Could it really be that simple? If that's the answer, then is the solution impossible? Damn.
Rest in Peace, Stan. You too Pop.