Cardinals Legend Musial to Receive Presidential Honor

Nov 17, 2010

Following a grassroots campaign by Cardinals fans, the White House announced today that Stan Musial will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor awarded by the government, just as Musial is about to celebrate his 90th birthday.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is given “for especially meritorious contribution (in) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Past winners are a diverse group, ranging from Alan Greenspan to Bill Cosby, Muhammad Ali to Paul Harvey, Estee Lauder to Moe Berg, the major-league catcher who was also a spy.

Musial is one of 14 awarded the Medal of Freedom today. The others: Former President George H.W. Bush; Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel; U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.; Maya Angelou, poet; John H. Adams, co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Warren Buffet, investor and philanthropist; Jasper Johns, artist; Dr. Tom Little, U.S. ophthalmologist murdered in Afghanistan; Yo-Yo Ma, musician; Sylvia Mendez, civil rights activist; Bill Russell, former NBA player; Jean Kennedy Smith, former ambassador; and John Sweeney, former AFL-CIO president.

Last May, the Cardinals created the “Stand for Stan” campaign to spread the word of Musial’s deeds, both on the field and off. The Cardinals saw it as an opportunity to enhance their footprint in social media, using Facebook and Twitter to fuel the populist effort to lobby the White House on Musial’s behalf. As part of the campaign, the Cardinals asked fans to print off the “Flat Stan” Musial cartoon and tote it around the world, snapping pics and sending them in via Facebook, Twitter or the team’s official web site. The club also organized a “Stand for Stan” day at the ballpark, which took place in September.

Craig Calcaterra of MSNBC’s baseball blog HardballTalk writes:

It arises in large part due to a grassroots campaign, but even if no one had ever made a peep about it, Musial would be a worthy recipient. Not just because he was one of the most fantastic baseball players who has ever lived, but also because he, more than just about anyone, stands for the notion that a sports figure can be a role model, even if we are increasingly inclined to reject that notion. He has always been reported to be kind, decent, caring, hard working and all of the other things we wish athletes were, but usually aren’t due to their being, you know, human beings. He has given back to his community. He may truly be the last untarnished icon in baseball history.