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Former Cardinal awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Stan Musial, National Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor presented to citizens by the president. Musial was one of 15 people honored Feb. 15 by President Barack Obama at the White House.

Musial was among several honorees, including President George H.W. Bush, Maya Angelou, Warren Buffett, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Congressman John Lewis, John H. Adams, Jasper Johns, Gerda Weissmann Klein, Dr. Tom Little (posthumous), Yo-Yo Ma, Sylvia Mendez, Bill Russell, Jean Kennedy Smith and John J. Sweeney.

"These outstanding honorees come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place," Obama said in a news release.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, culture or other substantial public or private endeavors.

Musial played 22 seasons as a St. Louis Cardinal from 1941 to 1963, was named the National League's Most Valuable Player three times, was selected for 24 All Star games and was a member of three World Series championship teams. During his career, he had 3,630 hits and 475 home runs. Musial also served as general manager for the Cardinals when the team won the World Series in 1967, according to the release.

“(On Feb. 15), the president recognized a true American hero who has put his community and his country before himself," U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said in a news release.

McCaskill led the bi-state Congressional delegation - along with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. - that recommended Musial for the award last year.

In a recommendation letter written to Obama, McCaskill described Musial's philanthropic achievements, which includes being a board member for the USO, Boy Scouts, Senior Olympics,  President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Crippled Children’s Society of St. Louis, and the Shelter for Children.

"Whether it is his service to the community ... whether it is his contributions to world peace as an unofficial emissary to the people of Poland during the Cold War or his international recognition as a recipient of the Cavalier Cross of the Order of Merit, the Polish government’s highest civilian honor (or) whether it is his numerous unmatched records in baseball or his service in the U.S. Navy, one thing about Stan Musial is clear: he is an American hero."

McCaskill's full letter to the president is available here.

Gov. Jay Nixon released a statement regarding Musial's honor, saying that few athletes have earned as much respect both on and off the baseball diamond.

"This honor from the president is appropriate for a man who is both a baseball immortal and an extraordinary American and gentleman," Nixon said in the statement. "(Feb. 15 was) a day worth celebrating not only for those who bleed Cardinal red, but for the entire country."[[In-content Ad]]

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