Faithful Fan | Lillian Musial's death brings focus on sports, family and marriage
The St. Louis sports community has provided many examples of the strong bonds of faith, family and marriage.
I've known a few of them — Jim and Roseanne Delsing, for example. He was a former advertising salesman at the Review, but before that he was a Major League baseball player, a center fielder with the New York Yankees, St. Louis Browns, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox. He and Roseanne, parents of five children, were active in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and in their parishes.
Another example was Deacon Ed Macauley and his wife, Jackie, who had seven children and were married nearly 60 years. "Easy Ed," as he was known, was a basketball star at St. Louis University and for the St. Louis Bombers, Boston Celtics and St. Louis Hawks. The family was known for its pro-life advocacy.
There are many others, including St. Louis Cardinals icon Red Schoendienst and his wife, Mary. But the number one sports couple in St. Louis always has been Stan and Lillian Musial. Stan, whose statue sits outside Busch Stadium and proclaims him "baseball's perfect knight," had been married to Lil for nearly 72 years before her death May 3 at age 91. High school sweethearts according to the St. Louis Cardinals website, the two met in 1934 when Lil's father took her to see a semi-professional baseball team play in Donora, Pa.
Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika, who was the couple's pastor at Annunziata Parish for several years, celebrated Lil's funeral Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis May 7. He noted that it's hard to separate the Musial family — four children and multiple generations — and the St. Louis family. There is an outpouring of love expressed back and forth between the Musials and the community.
Bishop Stika, who has a St. Louis Cardinals championship flag flying in his Tennessee yard in what some consider Atlanta Braves territory, tells people there are certain symbols that represent St. Louis, including the Gateway Arch. St. Louisans also claim that statue at the stadium, which represents what in pure and good not only about baseball but also about a person, he explained.
Those achievements went hand in hand with "a woman filled with love" — Lil.
Stan was never thrown out of a baseball game for arguing with an umpire, a fact that raised Bishop Stika to jokingly suggest that he was afraid to face Lil when he got home.
So much good has been accomplished by the Musials, Bishop Stika said.
Lil has been cited for her contributions to the Cardinals Pinch Hitters group, a charitable and social organization of players' wives. She was known to have had a special outreach to the players' families, helping them feel accepted.
The Musials have been devoted to Covenant House Missouri, which provides services to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth between the ages of 16-21.
They also have been supporters of Villa Duchesne and Oak Hills School. Last year, they were honored at the school's field day, which celebrated Stan's Presidential Medal of Freedom.This year the field day came just after Lil's death. Fittingly, it was a fundraiser for the Cardinals Care charity, with Cards general manager John Mozeliak accepting a check for the charity and condolences upon the death of the treasured member of the team's and school's family.
Christian Brothers College High School and many other groups were touched by the Musials' outreach.
Bishop Stika noted how family and faith were so important to Lil. As the "general manager of the Musial family," she spread love, affection and friendship as well as a true gift of faith to the community, he noted.
Bishop Robert Hermann, representing the archbishop at Lil's funeral Mass, said that her legacy is perhaps best summed up by the fact that she lived her Catholic values and has passed them on to future generations.
Those who want to make a remembrance of Lillian Musial can send contributions to Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, 801 S. Spoede Road, St. Louis, MO 63131-2699; or Covenant House Missouri, 2727 N. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63113. The annual Stan Musial Hall of Fame Gala for Covenant House will be held Oct. 13.
Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville. You may contact him at email@example.com.
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