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Musial Sworn In as Head of President’s Fitness Program

Feb. 26, 1964 - Stan Musial was sworn in today as director of President Johnson’s physical fitness program. Mr. Johnson called the retired baseball star “a hero to the youth of this country” and a man who had proved that “being a champ means a good deal more than just winning.”

Mr. Musial, a smiling, affable man, professed to be “kind of nervous.” He said he would “really rather have a bat in my hand.” Nevertheless, Mr. Musial, who retired after a long career as outfielder and first baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals, seemed to enjoy the attention. Looking around at the sizable crowd in the Cabinet Room of the White House, he said: “If I’d known I had so many friends in Washington, I might have run for office.” Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri, who is up for re-election this year, looked a bit nervous at that but laughed gamely.

Mr. Musial’s predecessor in the physical fitness program was Charles (Bud) Wilkinson, coach of the University of Oklahoma football team. Mr. Wilkinson resigned both posts to run for an Oklahoma Senate seat as a Republican.

Mr. Musial campaigned in 1960 for the Kennedy-Johnson ticket and greeted some friends from that campaign today. They included Attorney General and Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy and Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. President Johnson told Mr. Musial he hoped “the presence of the Attorney General doesn’t mean you’re going to ask him to lead off with any 15-mile hike.” This was a reference to the hiking craze of the Kennedy Administration.

In his more formal remarks, Mr. Johnson said Mr. Musial was eminently qualified for his post because he had shown good sportsmanship and good citizenship in his long career and had demonstrated the value of “decency, honor, and fair play.” Mr. Musial was accompanied at the swearing-in by his wife and his two daughters, Geraldine and Janet.


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