ST. LOUIS -- In February, 1970, the Associated Press named Arnold Palmer the "Athlete of the Decade," as he beat out candidates like Bill Russell, Sandy Koufax, Johnny Unitas, Mickey Mantle, Jim Brown and Willie Mays.
Later that year, a testimonial dinner was held for Palmer in Pittsburgh and among those attending was Stan Musial. Accepting the invitation, Musial said, "In my opinion, there is no greater golfer and finer man anywhere than Arnold Palmer."
That sentiment reverberates 45 years later with Palmer being named recipient of the Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award. He will be on hand to accept the prestigious honor at the annual Musial Awards presented Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis.
"I am humbled by the honor and its connection to Stan Musial and sportsmanship," Palmer said. "Stan and I were very good friends for many years. He was one of my boyhood heroes and a man I came to admire even more in later years when our paths crossed fairly often."
Palmer and Musial had much in common. Both were born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, both are considered among the greatest ever to participate in their respective sports. And like Musial, Palmer is beloved for his kindness and philanthropic endeavors.
The Musial Awards honor the legacy of the Stan "The Man" by celebrating the year's greatest moments of sportsmanship. The program showcases remarkable examples of courage, character, selflessness and integrity in sports, virtues Musial embodied.
Among the most popular and accessible figures in sports history, Palmer captured seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour wins. Along the way, he ushered golf into the television age with his charismatic style and approachability.
The Musial Lifetime Achievement Award is one of two special awards presented during the program. It recognizes an iconic sports figure whose career is defined by class, dignity, generosity and excellence. Those are qualities readily associated with Palmer.
The event's other special award, the Musial Award for Extraordinary Character, will posthumously honor Lauren Hill, a college basketball player whose grace and determination inspired people around the world.
This article was written by Dan O'Neill from St. Louis Post-Dispatch and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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