ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- It was anything but a normal opening day for the Cardinals, as the team began play at home for the first time since 1945 without Stan Musial in the building. But some would argue he had more of a presence in Busch than ever.
From the moment fans entered the stadium, Musial was there. Stickers bearing the number six and his signature were handed out as people entered, and the same logo was unveiled on the left-center field wall by his family during a pre game ceremony.
But possibly the most noticeable thing was the tribute paid by individual fans. Jerseys bearing Stan’s number six appeared more prevalent than any individual player currently on the roster.
“It’s amazing,” Musial’s grandson, Brian Shulze said. “There’s not enough adjectives to really explain it. To see the love that everyone’s really showing. I was joking with you earlier, I call it the Chinese New Year of Stan because he is just everywhere, and I love it. I love hearing all the stories.”
He wasn’t the only one to notice. Hall of famer Lou Brock had seen the sixes all over the park.
“It’s indicative of Cardinal Nation and it should be that way,” Brock said. “Today, although it’s opening day, you’d think it was a holiday and it’s also a tribute to Stan the Man Musial.”
Brock was part of the familiar parade of Hall of Famers in the back of convertibles around the park. Like all the rest of them, it was the first time he had taken that ride without Stan there.
“You’re gonna reminisce, when players come around in the parade and the automobiles, you’re going to visualize which one Stan would be in had he been here.”
Another member of the hall, Ozzie Smith, called the endless honors for Stan fitting.
“There will be reminders of Stan until when this stadium comes down and when another goes up, there will be more.”
“Of course you’d never know that he’s not here,” Brock said of “The Man.” “The fact is the spirit is here over St. Louis and the spirit of the Cardinals absolutely represent him and he is the spirit of St. Louis.”
Team owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. agrees.
“Stan was the heart and soul of this franchise. We’ll certainly miss him, but we won’t forget him. I know that.”