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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Stan Musial Tour of St. Louis

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 7:00 AM


By all accounts, Stan Musial was a deeply humble man and may have been embarrassed by the outpouring of tributes following his death this past Saturday at the age of 92. But, as a devout Catholic, he may have also understood the urge to go on pilgrimage and visit the places where he played baseball, lived his life and where his relics are enshrined. Here, then, is a list of Stan Musial pilgrimage sites.

The statue of Musial outside the third base entrance of Busch Stadium (Broadway and Poplar Streets, St. Louis) has already been festooned with signs and offerings, and it's where the Musial family will lay a wreath after the funeral on Saturday. But Musial, during his long career, never actually played here, nor at its predecessor at the same location.

To see where Musial played, you'll have to venture up to north city to the corner of Grand Boulevard and Dodier Street, site of several incarnations of Sportsman's Park, later known as the first Busch Stadium. The ballpark itself was torn down in 1966, three years after Musial retired; it's now the site of the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club.

During his playing days, Musial lived with his wife Lil and their kids in a pair of modest houses in St. Louis Hills, first at 5447 Childress Avenue (1948-1955) and then, as the family expanded, a custom-built four-bedroom ranch at 6451 Westway Road (1955-1965). According to George Vecsey's biography Stan Musial: An American Life, Musial put up elaborate Christmas decorations every year and once won third prize in the neighborhood contest.

Post-retirement, Musial moved into housing more expected of a major-league baseball star, a secluded mansion in Ladue, at 85 Trent Drive.

Throughout his life, Musial was a regular churchgoer. In St. Louis Hills, he attended mass first at St. Gabriel the Archangel (6303 Nottingham Avenue) and then at St. Raphael the Archangel (6047 Bishops Place), which was closer to his house. In later years, he frequented Church of the Annuziata in Ladue (9305 Clayton Road).

In 1949, Musial bought into Biggie Garagnani's restaurant at 6435 Chippewa Avenue. Henceforth, the restaurant would be known as Stan Musial and Biggie's, and Musial was a regular presence, giving free meals to visitors from his hometown of Donora, Pennsylvania (proof of residency required). They later opened up a second location at 5130 Oakland Avenue and a bowling alley, called (naturally) Redbird Lanes at 7339-47 Gravois. (It was open 24 hours!) The restaurants and bowling alley have since closed, replaced by the St. Louis Cancer & Breast Institute, Forest Park Community College and a Walgreens.

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