The Old Boys Are Leaving - Ode To Marty Marion
The old boys
Are all leaving
Leaving one by one
Where young birds go flying
Spread your wings and run
But over the fields
By the drystone walls
An eagle will come no more
Were the headlands
St. Valery behind
No medals worth wasting
On memories of sand
But sweet is the breeze
The morning awaits you there
What kind of heroes
Here for us now
Where leaders, stone preachers
Minnows on flow
But low hang the lights
And this night will day see no more
~ Lyrics from The Old Boys, sung by a great Scottish band, Runig
This week, The Heart Beet reports on a sad loss that will forever go down in baseball history. Mary Kent shares her memories of her family's infamous relative, St. Louis Cardinals player, Mr. Shortstop, Marty Marion.
So, I'll try to get through today's article without completely choking up! This one is definitely a tear jerker for me, so I'll go slow! In my 36 years on the planet, I have always thought of myself as having a bit of pre-cognition. You know, that feeling that you know without knowing why and can sense something before it happens, or when you think of someone and then a little while later you see them? Maybe I'm crazy, but really I think I'm just brave for talking about it because in some way I'm sure it's happened to you. We don't really talk about these things, because we might get burned at the stake, yet these little moments of inner knowing happen every single day to ordinary people like you and me. Don't get me wrong I think it'd be SO cool to be a gypsy with a crystal ball sitting around getting psychic hits. But, I'm just a normal girl who is tuned in to her heart, an organ that knows and feels all, speaking a language beyond what the human mind or science could ever speak.
I really do believe the human heart has a mysterious ability to tune into people when it's time to say farewell. It's like one heart sends out a little energy wave of goodbye to what it needs to feel in another to be accepted to fly home free. When two hearts are present, the energy of love is always more powerful, right? We never really know who it is that's going to release us to the next stage of our journey, but somehow I feel I've been blessed to do this for a few people, perhaps without even really realizing it. It happened with my dear friend Andrew Bosterli, who passed away in the Swiss Air crash many years ago. We weren't super tight at the time because NYC crazy working life had separated many of us, but this is someone who I always loved being around and whose friendship I definitely treasured. I remember we 'bumped' into each other in the flea markets in New York. I was alone and Andrew walked right up to me, alone, too, as if we had planning our meeting. There we were in Chelsea in a vintage stall laughing about college and funny things, and, of course, I was asking his advice about a hat I wanted to buy. And then, after a big hug goodbye and a few days later, well, his flight went down. Needless to say, I was in utter shock. I always think about that day and ask myself was that random bumping into him that day? Well, my mind might want to say yes, but my heart definitely says 'no way'! Maybe I was at the right place at the right time, but I'm pretty sure that God had a little something up his sleeve that day. And, it's ok if I don't fully understand what my pupose was. But, I do know it was our hearts that ordained that little meeting and it is my heart that will forever guard that wonderful cardiac intervention with great care. Because, it really was so very special! And, I believe this is exactly what happened with one of my family's favorites, Marty Marion.
This past Sunday night, I started going through a lot of old photos and came across some oldies I had taken on a visit to a wedding in St. Louis many years ago with my family. I always loved these photos and haven't looked at them in years. My grandmother's first cousin was Marty Marion, so, these pictures were of us visiting him and his fabulous wife, Mary at their home in Ladue. Their first grandaughter was getting married, so it was a really fun family event to be a part of! My grandmother, Martha Marion (who had a double name like me) and Marty Marion grew up together so, throughout my life, I always knew we had a famous baseball player in the family from good, old Iva, South Carolina, who had literally made it to the Major Leagues. Marty was tall and lanky, hence his nicknames Octopus and Slats on the field, had blue eyes that sparkled, and a laugh that was so memorable I can still feel the love coming out of his heart when he cackled. He was truly one of a kind, bringing his southern, gentlemanly manner and spirit to the field. He loved baseball, played it like he loved it, never made it to the Hall of Fame, and never said a word about it. He was on the field to play ball and great ball he played! He was definitely one of the old boys and when I say old boys I mean the humble hearted, the honorable, and, for sure, the legendary. The ones they truly don't make every day anymore.
I loved Marty as my grandmother's first cousin, and really because it was uncanny how much he reminded me of my grandfather. They weren't related, but I think they had the same heart. I wasn't really into baseball, but it was my father, who absolutely loved him and his ability as one heck of a baseball player. When my father speaks of Marty he gets so happy and completely lights up, so very proud of his accomplishments on the field! Marty, also known as Mr. Shortstop, was the 1944 National League MVP with the Cardinal. He played on four National League pennant-winners and three World Series championship teams (1942, '44 and '46), and was regarded as the Cardinals' greatest shortstop until Ozzie Smith came along in the 1980s. He later went on to become manager of the Cardinals and St. Louis Browns. My father, when he was a child, hopped on the train to go and see Marty play and later went to see him in St. Louis when he was manager. My parents were sitting behind The Eisenhowsers, The Fords, and Frank Sinatra during one of the games. And, when my mother told Marty, he said in his mid-westernized southern voice being so ever full of light, "Ahhh that's nothing, I had Cary Grant sitting in the box the other night." That's how Marty's ball rolled. He said it not to one up her, but just for a laugh because he most likely didn't care who he was dining with. My mother was speechless. Marty was a man with the Midas Touch, for everything he touched turned to gold, especially the human heart. He was truly one of the nicest people I have ever met, who absolutely adored and loved his family and children beyond words. He hunted, fished, and literally went to bed at seven o'clock. He brought the south to the midwest and to there it stayed. I remember him always returning to his roots to visit my grandparents and he and my grandfather, who also loved his family so much, reminding me so much of one another. It was like two kindred spirits laughing and being good 'ol southern boys together, talking about sports, loving their family and being so very proud of where they came from. So this past Sunday, I know in my heart without a doubt Marty Marion came to say farewell a few days before his time. He was sending out a heart filled APB for those who had the frequency to pick it up and it seems I just happened to be in tune with him. I'm learning that's a bit how I roll. (hee hee) Without really knowing why, I posted some wonderful pictures on Facebook that I truly hadn't looked at in years. I had no idea of Marty's condition or that in a few days he would no longer be with us. I was just simply celebrating him and his awesome accomplishments. Maybe it was random my photos, but I just don't really feel it that way. There was one of us with Martin holding his MVP award and one of him signing baseballs for me. I posted days before the family knew what was to come, long before the media knew, and I'm pretty sure even before my little self could even really grasp that in a few days Marty would be passing his light on to another playing field.
I now know there are some actions we take without ever fully comprehending what we are doing, yet come to learn the reasons why we did them after the fact! It's really quite a beautiful realm to play ball in. We don't always have to know God's every move he makes with us. Was it a coincidence for me to find these pictures and proudly post them prior to Marty's death? In my life, there is no such thing. I loved this man and knew how much his and my family loved him, so I believe it was my heart that he was touching, yet again. And, hearts can reach across time and space through photographs and wonderful memories. On Sunday, he spoke to my little intuitive radar within saying, "Hey kids, (he always said that) I'm going to be with your grandparents soon and your heart is gonna take me there. So, keep on loving. Cause that's where I am. In the heart. Love ya!" I mean I couldn't hear him saying that when I was all in the photo zone, it's just what I felt his message was telling me when I learned that he died last night. There was just so much love in those photos, so, maybe I was just preparing the way. I knew how much his daughters loved this man and how much my dad and grandparents loved Marty! Maybe it is true that the love within the heart that gets us here is the very same love that takes us to where we must go in the end.
The old boys are leaving us indeed. And, it's with a sad farewell that they depart. But, it is to them I will always look to for guidance, for wisdom, and of course, for a part of my heart. This makes it all worth living and, of course, dying for in the end. Thank God for Marty, who leaves behind an incredible legacy within baseball history and within his family. He is survived by his wife, Mary, who gave me the most wonderful vintage Lilly Pulitzer dress that I will treasure forever; his daughters, Martinna Dill, Virginia Lochmoeller, Linda Sylvanovich and Nancy Marion; a brother, Charles; 11 grandchildren; and 17 great-grandchildren. His brother John Marion, known as Red, who died in 1975, played the outfield briefly for the Washington Senators.
I am so very lucky to call Marty Marion my relative and to have that blood within me. (I think I got some of his long arms. Oh my goodness!) The old ones leave us with such rich and wonderful memories of love that can still be felt within our hearts, so really, there's no way they could ever be lost. I say tune into your heart to feel the love of your relatives who have passed away. They are always there and ready to be awakened within.
All right kids! I gotta go to bed. Love ya (in Marty's voice with the sun just sinking into the horizon)! Don't miss a Beet. Stay tuned for next week.
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