Stan Musial items up for auction
ST. LOUIS -- He's considered the greatest St. Louis Cardinal of them all, and fans of Stan "The Man" Musial have a chance to own a piece of his personal collection, ranging from game-worn jerseys to championship rings -- even his legendary harmonicas.
An online auction of 400 lots of Musial memorabilia began Thursday through Heritage Auctions of Dallas. Bidding ends Nov. 7 through Nov. 9, depending on the lot.
Musial died in January at age 92, a year after his wife, Lillian, died. The family kept numerous mementos from his life and career and gave away many others to the Cardinals organization, friends and others.
But Musial's modest four-bedroom red-brick home in Ladue, Mo., was simply stuffed with things he collected over the years -- items from his playing days, gifts from fellow players, even letters and cards from fans, said Musial's grandson, Brian Musial Schwarze.
"Most of this stuff the family didn't even know was there," Schwarze said. "He just never made a big show of anything."
On the inexpensive side, bidding starts at $1 for things such as autographed photos, Musial's lighters and neckties and a collection of Christmas cards sent to Musial.
At the other end of the scale, bidding starts at $10,000 for four items: A game-worn jersey from 1948, one of three seasons Musial won the National League MVP; championship rings from the 2006 and 2011 seasons; and an autographed baseball from Babe Ruth, given to Musial when he was in the minor leagues in 1941.
Among Schwarze's favorites is a letter from another baseball legend, Ty Cobb. Written in 1952, Cobb's letter discusses everything from how to break out of a slump to his disdain for sportswriters. He wrote: "Seriously now, I know well that you averaged in 6 of your last 7 years .355. Does that give you a right to be so darn modest?
"So go out there now and lead the league again and if you don't lead both Major Leagues this year, you should be shot in the behind with mustard seed," he wrote.
Musial was a seven-time batting champion who spent his entire 22-year career with the Cardinals. He played on three championship teams, all in the 1940s, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969. Musial also served in the Navy in World War II and was a 2011 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions for Heritage Auctions, said the auction should draw well, given how much Musial is beloved by Cardinals fans.
"He was such a good guy and a good ambassador for the game," Ivy said. "The response we've gotten in terms of fan interest has been very high."
St. Louis has mourned Musial's passing in a number of ways. Thousands turned out for his funeral procession and public visitation in January. This season, the team's jerseys had No. 6 on the sleeve, and an image of Musial adorned the outfield wall. In July, a new Mississippi River bridge at St. Louis was named in his honor.
Bidding began on the same day the Cardinals were to open the postseason. Musial was a fixture in the postseason, drawing thunderous ovations at pre-game ceremonies as he recreated his hunched-over batting stance. His final appearance at Busch Stadium was last October at Game 4 of the NL championship series.
"Everywhere I go I run into people who have stories about him," Schwarze said. "I have yet to come across a bad story about Stan."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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