Matheny, who recently became the first person to begin his Major League managerial career by leading his team to the postseason in four straight years, was on hand to accept the award, which was presented to him by eight members of the TPX Warriors team, who inspired the letter in 2009.
Those boys, then 11, are now seniors in high school.
"First of all, I'm floored at the amazing acts of kindness [of the other honorees]," said Matheny, who received the night's final award. "Stan Musial meant so much to me. He set the tone for how I felt it was supposed to look as a professional player. … When a whole room wanted one second of his time, he took his time to look me in the eye, and was truly engaged and wanted to make a difference in somebody's life. I think that's why he's so endeared to this day, because of the impact that he made on everybody's life and with almost every interaction he had. That's what we saw up here."
The night's highest honor went to golfer Arnold Palmer, who received the Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award. According to the St. Louis Sports Commission, which produces the awards program, Palmer was selected because "his success in the sport … is matched by his kindness and philanthropic commitment."
Palmer, 86, called Musial one of the "greatest people I've ever known in my life."
Both were natives of southwestern Pennsylvania.
"If every person in the world lived their life like Stan Musial," he said, "you could walk away proud."
Also honored was longtime sports broadcaster Ernie Johnson, who recalled hearing stories about Musial from his father, who pitched against the 24-time All-Star in the Majors. Johnson's award was presented by Taelor and Sydni Scott, the late daughters of sportscaster Stuart Scott. Earlier this year, Johnson presented Scott's Sports Emmy Award to the girls.
Other honorees included pro tennis player Tim Smyczek; high school basketball players Miles Rodriguez, Scooter Terrien and Chase Vazquez of Lincoln (Wisc.) Middle School; young hockey fan Keaton Hamin; the rowing teams at the University of Virginia and Loyola Marymount University; Matt Woodrum and his physical education teacher, John Blaine; the Wichita State cheerleading squad; University of South Carolina Beaufort baseball player Jason Boulais; and Lauren Hill, a basketball player at Mount Saint Joseph (Ohio), who was honored posthumously.
Boulais, a pitcher, was previously honored by Major League Baseball at its 2015 Draft, forfeited his senior season at USC-Beaufort to donate blood marrow to a young boy in France. At Saturday's event, Boulais was given the All That's Right in Sport Award, which is presented annually by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
"It wasn't tough at all," Boulais said of his decision. "I didn't see a reason to play another game if I could save a kid's life."
KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5 in St. Louis will air the Musial Awards at 7 p.m. CT on Dec. 16. There will be an encore presentation at noon on Dec. 25. For those wishing to learn more about the event or any of this year's honorees, visit stlsports.org/awards.