Monday, January 28, 2013

Stan's Challenge

Sunday evening at the Blues game I was asked to read a script accompanying a ceremonial puck-drop that was meant to honor the life of Stan Musial. Mr. Musial's grandson, and almost constant companion in the last several years, Brian Schwarze came to center ice to drop the puck between Blues captain David Backes and his Minnesota Wild counterpart Sakku Koivu.

These types of ceremonies are done occasionally by the Blues when a particularly historic event occurs, such as the passing of "Stan The Man", or if a famous person is in attendance whom they wish to recognize in some way. Members of the Cardinals, for instance, were on hand to drop a puck after their 2011 World Championship. It's a way for a hockey team to say "we are proud of you" or "we're glad you are here with us", something like that.

But this ceremony honoring Stan was quite different for me as public-address announcer. It was not just reading a script without messing it up. It was the one public opportunity for me to do my best to honor my hero. I wanted to make sure the words were right and my delivery was dead-on.

The script, in its original form, was adequate for the occasion. But I thought it could stand a little more in the way of poignancy. I re-worded a few things, presented the ideas to my supervisor, and approval for the revisions was gained. I was satisfied with the new script. It went like this:

Ladies and Gentlemen, over the weekend the St. Louis community laid to rest a sporting-world icon and the greatest St. Louis athlete of all time. Stan Musial was not only known for his record-setting accomplishments on the field, but was also a true civic treasure and example of what a true gentleman should be. 

We now direct your attention to center ice for this evening's ceremonial puck drop and ask you to welcome Stan's grandson Brian Schwarze, as he drops our ceremonial puck in honor of his grandfather Stan "The Man" Musial. 

Thank you Brian Schwarze...and thanks for the wonderful memories Stan "The Man" Musial. 

It was a simple tribute, to be sure. But also said exactly what needed to be said on behalf of some 18-thousand St. Louis sports fans to the Musial family. It turned out perfectly from my view.

Tributes have come from all directions in the days since Mr. Musial passed away on January 19th. One of my favorites was written by Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Dan is obviously much like me, a devoted and adoring Stan Musial fan his entire life. You can read his tribute here.

But what I hope people who loved Stan and his approach to life would see going forward is the challenge his legacy presents. How do we live up to his standard? How can we live our own lives as effectively and generously? Bernie Miklasz, also of the Post-Dispatch, asks himself these questions in this carefully thought-out column.

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