I was a Mets fan growing up. We lived near Port Charlotte, Florida, which was about a two-hour drive from Al Lang Field in St Pete, which in the early 70s was the spring training field for either the Cards or the Mets. Maybe both.
It was either ’72 or ’73. Dad and I went to a couple of the Mets-Cards games, arriving early enough to watch batting practice and snag autographs. I have Lindsey Nelson’s scribble–he was so flattered and surprised to be asked. Joe Torre. Tom Seaver. I really wanted Yogi Berra’s autograph, but he seldom came close enough to the stands. Except one day it looked like he might, and I was getting ready to go and beg ‘n’ plead when a drunk guy who was sitting nearby took my program and said, “Wait a minute, kid, and I’ll get you a real autograph.”
I watched him walk over to two older men seated a few rows behind us. He said something to them, pointed to me, then handed them the program. They both signed it, and he brought it back to me.
By that time, I was feeling pretty ticked because Yogi Berra had already returned to the dugout. I looked down at the autographs that the drunk guy got, and I confess that they didn’t mean all that much to me.
Dad’s expression softened a little when he saw them, though. “Stan the Man,” he said.
So, Godspeed, Mr. Musial. Thank you for signing a program for a slightly obnoxious inebriate, because he returned it to a teenage girl who, as the years passed, came to realize what she had.