Stan Musial est mort

January 20, 2013

I was born a baseball fan; as such, one of my first distinct and unequivocal memories is about a visit to the game’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. It was 1962, a fact I confirmed in my mind long ago by looking at an old Kodak print with the date of development printed in the margins. My family went to Cooperstown in 1962, I was 3 or 4 years old.

What I remember is putting my hand on a flannel jersey that I have always believed once belonged to Ted Williams. I have a very complete sensory record of how it felt, the rub of the stitching, the downy nub of the blouse. I remember a facsimile of a locker, with Stan Musial’s gear. That was in the photograph, along with a smiling young man who looks like me and his barely walking son.

When I think about it, it all dissolves. Ted Williams’ jersey would not have been made available for grubby hands to fondle and Williams wasn’t a member of the Hall of Fame in 1962 anyway. It is just possible his jersey was on display, but Musial was still a very active player — he hit .330 that season. So unless my father and I were standing in front of some temporary, special exhibit (which given the way the Hall of Fame operates, doesn’t seem too likely), the photograph is impossible.

Yet at some level I cannot help but believe in it.

This is probably not the only bit of self-deception that informs my sense of self, maybe it’s only the most whimsical.

I don’t have clear memories of Musial as a player, I — unlike so many others — never met him. But he was part of my life from the beginning.

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