ST. LOUIS — Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial's Stan the Man Inc. is closing up shop in St. Louis this week.
The building where Musial signed memorabilia until a month before he died is closing its doors due to a decreasing inventory. Dick Zitzmann, vice president of the company, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1xqcxtV ) that Musial still meant a lot to St. Louis, and that the current cache of signed items would last four to six months.
There were 6,000 to 7,000 balls in the inventory when Musial died in January 2013 at the age of 92. Today there are none left. There are also no bats, jerseys or caps.
"I was completely out," Zitzmann said. "Jerseys sold out the week after he died. That was at $600 piece. And one customer in town bought all my bats. That was about 550 bats."
Musial was a creature of habit. He would show up at Stan the Man every single morning and autograph pictures, balls and jerseys from 10:30 to 11:30.
"He never missed, unless he was ill," Zitzmann said.
Afterward, he would head off to lunch at one of the several restaurants in his rotation.
The baseball player's hour of signing was not always low key. Fans were allowed to enter the office during the signing sessions, "but he was so affable he wouldn't turn anybody down. Stan loved it; he really did. He would take pictures with people. He was almost too good. At times it made me wonder, 'How does this guy do this?'"
Zitzmann and Musial formed Stan the Man, Inc. in the late 1980s when the autograph industry started to become popular. The business became very lucrative for both of them. With each passing year, Musial was able to profit more through signed memorabilia than he did as a player.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com