Like most fans in the Gateway City, I convene with family and friends before St. Louis Cardinals' games at the base of the Stan Musial statue outside of Busch Stadium. "Let's meet at the statue," we text on the day of the game, and despite the fact that 12 statues encircle the ballpark, there's never any confusion about which one we're referring to. It's the statue of Stan the Man, of course, the undisputed best player in the history of the National League's most decorated franchise.
Unlike the meticulously lifelike statues of lesser Cardinals luminaries nearby—Bob Gibson tumbling off the mound after hurling a ferocious fastball, Ozzie Smith lunging to his left for a shallow pop-fly—the 10-foot bronze Musial statue is beefy, stiff, and unrepresentative of the lithe Pennsylvania native whose 170-pound frame earned him the nickname the "Donora Greyhound." Even though Musial possessed one of baseball's most unorthodox batting stances—a hunched, butt-out coil—the statue flattens the stance, jettisoning the kinks that made it distinctive. In his 1977 autobiography, The Man Stan, Musial stated bluntly, "I didn't hit the way that guy in the statue does." With its brawny shoulders and boxy facial features, the statue looks like a work of heroic realism—a sanitized depiction of an idealized hitter, which is reinforced by then-Commissioner Ford Frick's inscription: "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight."