News item: Former professional road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times, confesses to using and distributing performance-enhancing drugs and is banned from professional cycling. Despite his lying and cheating about doping, it doesn't stop ABC from offering him a spot on the upcoming spring edition of Dancing With the Stars.

Item: All-American Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, runner-up for college football's Heisman Trophy, admits in a television interview that he continued to perpetuate the myth about his online girlfriend even after discovering the truth that she didn't exist. Even though Te'o denies involvement in the hoax, many still believe he had a larger part in it.

Item: Superstar actress/singer Beyonce's scintillating performance of singing the National Anthem in Monday's Presidential Inauguration raises questions about whether she was singing live or lip-syncing.

It seems as though truth-telling is becoming a lost virtue in this sports and entertainment-crazed society.

Lost in the media-fed frenzy over the latest lies, doping and deception in recent days was an obituary out of western Pennsylvania that announced the passing of a true sports legend and hero of his generation. Hall of Famer Stan Musial, a 22-year player with the St Louis Cardinals, died last Saturday at the age of 92.

Having been born in the same town as one-armed League baseball player Pete Gray, I got a chance to know this legendary wartime baseball player in his later years. In 1945, Musial was with the Cardinals while Gray played his one year in the big leagues on a war-depleted roster for the St. Louis Browns. Since both teams shared Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, both players were huge draws, not only in that city, but across the land.

Before Gray passed away in 2002, I remember the reverence he held for Musial. Both had humble Pennsylvania roots. Musial was born in Danora to Polish and Czech parents on November 21, 1920 while Gray was born in Nanticoke 1915, the son of Lithuanian immigrants.

Although Gray didn't approach Musial's greatness in baseball during his one major league season, he was still dubbed "One-Armed Wonder" for overcoming his physical handicap to play the game he loved. His life story inspired the 1986 television-movie "A Winner Never Quits."

The great Musial played the game with grace and sportsmanship, never once being ejected from a game by an umpire. When he retired from baseball, former baseball Commissioner Ford Frick referred to him as "baseball's perfect warrior, baseball's perfect knight." To all baseball fans and especially to the St. Louis fans, he was simply known as "Stan the Man."

Where can today's generation find heroes to inspire them? We've reached a time where they must go to the archives of print or old films to learn about heroes such as the One Armed Wonder and the Perfect Warrior.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com