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Stan Musial And Alzheimer's

News broke recently that Stan Musial, according to an upcoming book, has been suffering from Alzheimer's for the last few years. This has been cause for a lot of sadness—expressed particularly eloquently here, I must say—but it's also reason enough to celebrate Musial's life and his legacy while he's here and active enough to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom and make his customary Opening Day appearance. (Certainly better than Murray Chass's absurd hatchet-job from last month.)

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I'm not sure there's ever been a player quite like Stan Musial—one of those things that can only be said about the very best and very worst players in the history of baseball. He won seven batting titles, six doubles titles, five triples titles, and, sad as it might make Murray Chass, never once did something to diminish his own reputation, the Cardinals' reputation, baseball's reputation. In his life since retirement he's been a constant presence in St. Louis—a "merry and decent" figure, in the words of the author of the book that revealed his struggle with Alzheimer's.

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As Tom suggests on Viva El Birdos, his sheer decency, his virtuous simplicity, make it difficult to properly appreciate Stan Musial. He's not Joe DiMaggio; his life doesn't involve brushes with fame or shadowy ambiguity, and his public persona doesn't represent some lost baseball ideal and never has. He's just Stan Musial.

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