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Stan Musial, one of the greatest players in baseball history, passed away on January 19, 2013, at the age of 92. Around the time of the anniversary of his passing, I think about true legends and how infrequently we encounter them.
Stan was much more than a great ball player. He was widely thought of as one of the fairest, most dignified ambassadors of the game, having never been ejected once by an umpire. At the time of his retirement from the Cardinals in 1963, he held 17 Major League records and 29 National League records.
He also was a WWII veteran, enlisting in the US Navy in 1945, during the prime of his career. He was a great family man, marrying his high school sweetheart, Lillian, and staying married to her for 71 years. In 2011, Stan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for his lifetime of achievement and public service.
Certain human beings have the capacity not to live for accolades and praise, but rather to provide an example of how we should live our lives. Stan did all that.
But, how does one recognize a true legend? Is the person a visionary? Or a captain of industry? Did they achieve a high rank or political office?
I would suggest the stuff of a true legend is much more. A legend is more than a hero, more than a gifted leader. Quite simply, a true legend inspires us to be better human beings.
Traits generally include humility, longevity in an area of some influence and a desire to set a good example. When one thinks of legends, certain names may come to mind such as Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln or Ghandi.
Are there legends in the insurance industry? One could put forward Benjamin Franklin, Alfred M. Best, George Mecherle or Warren Buffett. But do these individuals have the stuff of legend?
History has much to say about who is deemed worthy of legend status. Major League Baseball tells us that Legends are “Born in October.” We hold up our favorite athletes (Michael Jordan, Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth) as legends, but the title is fleeting. Perhaps an athlete like Stan Musial can teach us all a lesson about legends. Recognition by peers was welcome, but Stan’s focus was always on others, not himself. A true legend teaches us that the collective good is a more noble achievement than personal success.
Learn more about Stan Musial
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