Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stallings Remembers the Kindness of St. Louisans

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stallings Remembers the Kindness of St. Louisans

Article excerpt

THE BEST PART of John Mark Stallings' week during the two years he lived in St. Louis was Saturday.

On that day, he attended practice with his dad, Gene, then coach of the football Cardinals, and Carole Buck took him for rides in her red Corvette convertible.

At 5 a.m., he'd be at his dad's bedroom door ready to go, wearing a Big Red shirt with the words "Head Trainer." Once at the locker room, Johnny would head straight for wide receiver J.T. Smith, who saved doughnuts for him. Quarterback Neil Lomax and LeBaron Caruthers, strength and conditioning coach, played card games with Johnny, always letting him win. During practice, he'd be at his dad's side and high-five players as they came off the field. He knew everybody's name. The Bucks - Carole and Jack - became close friends of the Stallingses. Johnny couldn't wait to hear Jack turn broadcaster and say, "There's a long fly ball . . . Johnny Stallings is back . . . back . . . it's outta here!" Carole Buck marveled at the effect the power of a family's love had on Johnny. She says, "What I learned from them is that in the giving is the getting. In caring, the loving increases. It was the perfect kind of love because John didn't care if you were tall or short, rich or poor. He saw only the kindness in you. The world's standards didn't affect him." At the front door, Johnny would greet her with "Hi, Carole Buck," as if Buck were her middle name. She'd put the top down on the car and away they'd go, singing. She'd do "Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys." Then he'd sing. Says Carole Buck, "It was such an `up' to be with him and his family. He drew from all the kindness and love they showed toward him." Now the host of "Encounter," a weekly radio show on KSIV, she still talks with Johnny often by phone. Gene Stallings' book, "Another Season: A Coach's Story of Raising an Exceptional Son," is a love story between father and son. …

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