JEFFERSON CITY - The crack of a bat resounded in the ears of every baseball fan in the state Capitol as Stan "The Man" Musial stepped up to an imaginary plate, took a batter's stance, and swung his cane.
The St. Louis Cardinals great took the stage and wielded his makeshift bat yesterday when he became the first sports star to be inducted in the Hall of Famous Missourians.
"Today, it's a great honor to be honored by my people in St. Louis and Missouri here at the state Capitol and being here with all the other Hall of Famers who are here," Musial said.
The baseball great is the 23rd member of the Hall of Famous Missourians. Other honorees include Harry S. Truman, Walt Disney and Walter Cronkite. All honorees are Missouri citizens who have contributed to the state. They each have bronze busts in the state Capitol. Musial's bust was unveiled yesterday.
Musial is only the second living honoree -- Cronkite was the first in 1999.
The ceremony featured several of Musial's long-time friends who told annecdotes and stories about the famous player, including St. Louis Cardinal broadcaster Jack Buck and fellow baseball Hall of Famer and Cardinals player Lou Brock.
"You're a man that has always had a good word about everybody," Brock said to Musial.
Besides thanking his friends and supporters at the ceremony, Musial took a few moments in a press conference to give his opinion on his former home away from home in St. Louis.
"Every city has a new stadium, so the Cardinals should have a new stadium," he said. "That's a great field and it's been there a lot of years but the economics of baseball is such that all the cities are getting bigger and better ballparks and I think St. Louis just fits in there."
The Cardinals have been lobbying for a new stadium built with government assistance.
Speaker of the House Steve Gaw, who is also the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, and Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan were also both at the ceremony.