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St. Theodore School in Wentzville first-grader William Mazes and seventh-grader Michael Belarde listened as Solomon Alexander encouraged students to care about sportsmanship and to be good to those around them – just as Stan Musial did during his illustrious career and life.
St. Theodore School in Wentzville first-grader William Mazes and seventh-grader Michael Belarde listened as Solomon Alexander encouraged students to care about sportsmanship and to be good to those around them – just as Stan Musial did during his illustrious career and life.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Inspired by Musial, students learn ‘the right way’

Event at school in Wentzville stresses having fun, being good, playing right

About three-fourths of the students at St. Theodore School in Wentzville raised their hand when Solomon Alexander asked how many have heard of Stan Musial.

They all know of him now, after Alexander’s 45-minute presentation at the school Sept. 3. But most of all, they know the three concepts associated with the ballplayer, through Alexander’s “Musial Moments” program. When prompted at the end of the presentation, the students shouted the concepts in unison: “Have fun. Be good. Play right.”

“Unless you give it all you’ve got, there isn’t any sense in playing.”

Stan Musial

A biography on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website states that “Musial played baseball the right way.” The St. Louis Cardinals outfielder/first baseman was an active parishioner at Annunziata Parish in Ladue before his death in 2013. When he retired after the 1963 season, the three-time Most Valuable Player award-winner had a then-National League record 3,630 hits – 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road – and a .331 batting average.

Solomon Alexander, director of the Sports Commission’s Sportsmanship Foundation, got help from third grader Lillian Powers on a presentation on sportsmanship as demonstrated by Cardinal great Stan Musial at St. Theodore School in Wentzville.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
In an interview with the St. Louis Review in 1997 while at a fundraiser for St. Vincent Home for Children, Musial said that giving back to the community and helping others “gives you a great feeling.” He noted that he would remind young players who were struggling that he also held the record for making the most outs, yet he still made the Hall of Fame.

St. Theodore seventh-grader Sophia Martin said Alexander’s presentation reinforced her view of sportsmanship, particularly “playing your game and not getting riled up about something that didn’t get called right.”

Another seventh-grader, Michael Belarde, said he enjoyed hearing that sportsmanship and fun are more important than winning a game. “It’s better to be nice and be part of a team than be the greatest person on earth and be rude,” he said.

The right thing to do, “at the end of the game, win or lose, is you say ‘good game,’” even if the opponent wasn’t showing good sportsmanship, Michael said.

Alexander, director of the Sports Commission’s Sportsmanship Foundation, earlier said Musial was “a great guy whose legacy lives on.” The 24-time All-Star never was thrown out of a game, Alexander said, and he played in 3,026 in the Majors. “He never let himself get upset,” Alexander said.

Several points in the presentation related to the “Have fun. Be good. Play right” theme:

• Your task: Showing up every day and giving your absolute best.

• Let your light shine. Let that gift go to other people.

• Having fun does not mean laughing at someone else’s expense.

• Having fun means everyone enjoys the activity.

• Your parents tell you to be good because they want the rest of the world to see you as they do. You’re precious to them.

• Without your opponents, you can’t play the game. At the end, we all shake hands.

Alexander makes about 30 presentations a year all through the St. Louis area, including at several Catholic schools. He’s a graduate of Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo. Though he attends a nonCatholic church, his daughter is a graduate of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne School in Florissant and now attends Incarnate Word Academy. “Catholics do a great job of education,” he said.

>> Stan the Man

Stan Musial once told a forerunner of Catholic News Service that he doesn’t see anything wrong with athletes making the Sign of the Cross during competition, provided they are sincere. When it was noted that he never made such a gesture, he said: “I found a better way a long time ago. Every day that I possibly can I go to Mass and Communion. There I make my Morning Offering and that way you can even turn an error into a prayer.”

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tenn., was pastor of Musial’s parish, Annunziata, from 2005-09. “I always found Stan to be a very generous and kind man,” Bishop Stika said after Musial’s death in 2013. “The words ‘role model’ are used so often to describe him. He was blessed with a great skill and played baseball with a great passion, but also with a kind and gentle heart. He was not just Stan the Man. In so many ways he was St. Louis.”

>> Musial Moments

The St. Louis Sports Foundation’s Musial Moments program fosters civility, respect and selflessness among young people. Through visits to schools, the St. Louis Sports Commission’s initiative refers to acts of kindness and selflessness that take place in competition or everyday life — and instills the qualities of sportsmanship on and off the field exemplified by baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial.

The 45-minute Musial Moments presentation is offered at no charge. For information, call (314) 345-5130, email [email protected] or visit www.bit.ly/2QSdKvl.

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