George Vecsey on "Prince of New York" Stan Musial

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George Vecsey
The problem is, he's not a reflective person and never was. He was never verbal, he didn't talk about money or race. He was a see-the-ball-hit-the-ball guy. He stuttered as a kid, and he was reserved about expressing himself in public.

As a writer, you want to deal in controversy. But writing this book, I was aware that so many people had nice things to say, there was a danger of him coming off as a goody-goody. He smoked. He had a drink or two. As a reporter, I wanted to let the evidence speak for itself.

It was a challenge that he was a nice person. The book is laced through with this theory about why he's not more remembered. Ted Williams didn't tip his hat to the fans, Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe. Musial was a guy who lived in a house that he decorated at Christmas. He took his kids to Ted Drewes.

Did you spend a lot of time in St. Louis?

There's quite a St. Louis feel to the book. Musial and his family were off-limits, but I talked to old players, people from the town, customers from his restaurant.

You know the book's subtitle is An American Life. Someone came up with that for me, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. It's not only a St. Louis story. He came from a poor Pennsylvania mill town. He was someone who looked around and saw people who wore sports jackets and knew how to handle money, and he figured out how to be like them. It's a Horatio Alger story, about a guy who did everything right. He just hit the ball.

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