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Casey Stengel

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File:Stengel.jpg
Casey Stengel, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers

Charles Dillon Stengel (July 30, 1889 - September 29, 1975) was a famous baseball player and manager. He got the nickname "Casey" from Kansas City ("K. C."), Missouri, where he was born. In his early days, he was also known as "Dutch," at that time a common nickname for Americans of German ancestry. He was later nicknamed "The Old Perfessor" for his sharp wit and sarcastic comments.

Playing careerEdit

Baseball Hof
Casey Stengel
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

Stengel was an outfielder on several teams in the National League beginning on September 17, 1912: the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1912-17; the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1918 and 1919; the Philadelphia Phillies in 1920 and part of 1921; the New York Giants from 1921 to 1923; and the Boston Braves in 1924 and 1925. He played in three World Series: in 1916 for the Dodgers and in 1922 and 1923 for the Giants.

He threw left handed and batted left handed. His batting average was .284 over 14 major league seasons.

He was a competent player, but by no means a superstar. On July 8, 1958, discussing his career before the Senate's Estes Kefauver committee on baseball's antitrust status, he made this observation: "I had many years that I was not so successful as a ballplayer, as it is a game of skill."[1]

On the other hand, he once joked: "I was such a dangerous hitter I even got intentional walks during batting practice."[2]

Nonetheless, he had a good World Series in a losing cause in 1923, hitting two home runs to win the two games the Giants won in that Series. He was traded to the perennial second-division-dwelling Braves in the off-season, a fact which apparently stung him. Years later he made this pithy comment: "It's lucky I didn't hit 3 home runs in three games, or McGraw would have traded me to the 3-I League."

In 1919, Stengel of the Pittsburgh Pirates was being taunted mercilessly by Brooklyn Dodgers fans. Somehow Casey got hold of a sparrow and used it to turn the crowd in his favor. With the bird tucked gently beneath his cap, Casey strutted to the plate amidst a chorus of boos and catcalls. He turned to the crowd, tipped his hat and out flew the sparrow! The jeers turned to cheers, and Casey became an instant favorite. i luv tacos and wiki is junk

New York YankeesEdit

File:Casey Stengel Time Cover.jpg
Casey Stengel on a 1955 cover of Time Magazine

Stengel became better known for managing than for playing. His first managerial positions were on the Brooklyn Dodgers (1934-1936) and Boston Braves (1938-1943), where he was not very successful, never finishing better than 5th in an 8-team league. As he said in 1958, "I became a major league manager in several cities and was discharged. We call it discharged because there is no question I had to leave."[3]

Stengel demonstrated he could be successful as a manager of a team having worthy talent. In 1944, Stengel was hired as the manager of the minor league Milwaukee Brewers, over the strenuous objections of club owner Bill Veeck (who was serving in the South Pacific with the Marines at the time, and therefore unable to prevent the hiring). Veeck was proven wrong as Stengel led the Brewers to the American Association pennant that year. In 1948 Stengel managed the Oakland Oaks to the Pacific Coast League championship. This caught the attention of the New York Yankees, who were looking for a new manager.

Despite a good deal of initial skepticism in the press, Stengel was hired as the skipper of the Yankees in 1949, and finally had a chance for success at the major league level. When he took the reins of the Yankees, he made this observation: "There is less wrong with this team than any team I have ever managed." That would prove to be an understatement.

He proceeded to set records for championships, becoming the only person to manage a team to five consecutive World Series championships as the late-40s, early-50s Yankees became a juggernaut. He won two additional world championships and three additional league pennants afterward. While managing the Yankees he gained a reputation as one of the game's sharpest tacticians: he platooned left and right handed hitters extensively (which had become a lost art by the late 1940s), and sometimes pinch hit for his starting pitcher in early innings if he felt a timely hit would break the game open.

Stengel was a master publicist and promoter, especially for his teams. He was a captivating raconteur and especially during the years of success with the Yankees had the New York media eating out of his hand. He became as much of a public figure as many of his star players such as Mantle. He appeared on the cover of national, non-sports, magazines such as Time Magazine. His apparently stream-of-consciousness monologues on all facets of baseball history and tactics (and anything else that took his fancy) became known as "Stengelese" to sportswriters. They also earned him the nickname "The Old Perfesser".

In the spring of 1953, after the Yankees had won 4 straight World Series victories he made the following observation, which could just as easily have been made by The Perfessor's prize pupil, Yogi Berra: "If we're going to win the pennant, we've got to start thinking we're not as smart as we think we are."[4]

Although Stengel benefited from the Yankees' deep pockets and ability to sign players, he was a hands-on manager: The 1949 Yankees were riddled by injuries, and Stengel's platooning abilities played a major role in their championship run. Platooning also played a major role in the 1951 team's World Series run. With Joe DiMaggio declining rapidly and Mickey Mantle yet to become a powerhouse, the Yankees were weak offensively. Stengel, leaving his solid pitching alone, moved players in and out of the line-up, putting good hitters in the line-up in the early innings and benching them for good fielders later. The strategy worked: The Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians for the pennant in September and took the Series from the New York Giants four games to two.[5]

Casey's Amazin' MetsEdit

After losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1960 World Series after a ninth-inning game-winning home run by Bill Mazeroski, Stengel was involuntarily retired from the Yankees, because he was believed to be too old to manage. He was talked out of retirement after one season to manage the New York Mets, at the time an expansion team with no chance of winning many games. Mocking his well-publicized advanced age, when he was hired he said, "It's a great honor to be joining the Knickerbockers", a New York baseball team that had seen its last game around the time of the Civil War.[6]

The Mets proved to be so incompetent that they gave Stengel plenty of fresh Stengelese material for the New York City newspaper writers. One of his most famous comments was actually a misquote. After an exasperating loss, he complained, "Can't anybody play this here game?" This colloquial expression was altered and later became the title of Jimmy Breslin's book about the first-year Mets, Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?."[7]

Though his "Amazin'" Mets finished last in a 10-team league all four years, Stengel was a popular figure nonetheless, not least due to his personal charisma. The Mets themselves proved to be as lovable, due in part to Stengel's charisma and the "lovable loser" charm that followed the team around in those days. Fans packed the old Polo Grounds (prior to Shea Stadium being built), many of them bringing along colorful placards and signs with all sorts of sayings on them. Warren Spahn, who had briefly played under Stengel for the 1942 Braves and for the 1965 Mets, commented: "I'm probably the only guy who worked for Stengel before and after he was a genius."[8]

Stengel's retirement, announced on August 30, 1965, followed a fall at Shea Stadium, in which he broke his hip.

AwardsEdit

His uniform number 37 has been retired by both the Yankees and the Mets. The Yankees retired the number on August 8, 1970, and dedicated a plaque in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park in his memory on July 30, 1976. The plaque calls him "For over sixty years one of America's folk heroes who contributed immensely to the lore and language of the Yankees and our national pastime baseball." He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966 and inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1981.

Stengel is the only person to have worn the uniform (as player or manager) of all four Major League Baseball teams that played in New York City in the 20th century (while each team was in New York City): The New York Giants (as a player), the Brooklyn Dodgers (as both a player and a manager), the New York Yankees (as a manager), and the New York Mets (also as a manager).

File:Caseystengelgrave.jpg
Gravesite of Casey Stengel

He died in Glendale, California of cancer on September 29, 1975 and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California.

The Casey Stengel Plaza surrounding Shea Stadium is named after him, as is the New York City Transit's Casey Stengel Depot across the street from the stadium.

Trivia Edit

See AlsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. Einstein, Charles. The Third Fireside Book of Baseball. New York; Simon and Schuster, 1968, p.434
  2. [1]
  3. Einstein, Charles. The Third Fireside Book of Baseball. New York; Simon and Schuster, 1968, p.434
  4. Ira Berkow and Jim Kaplan. The Gospel According to Casey. New York; St. Martin's Press, 1992, p.120
  5. Creamer, Robert W. Stengel: His Life and Times. New York; Simon and Schuster, 1984, pp.227-249
  6. Ira Berkow and Jim Kaplan. The Gospel According to Casey. New York; St. Martin's Press, 1992, p.15
  7. Ira Berkow and Jim Kaplan. The Gospel According to Casey. New York; St. Martin's Press, 1992, p.21
  8. Ira Berkow and Jim Kaplan. The Gospel According to Casey. New York; St. Martin's Press, 1992, p.x

Other referencesEdit

  • Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia by David Pietrusza, Matthew Silverman and Michael Gershman, ed. (2000). Total/Sports Illustrated.

External linksEdit

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Preceded by:
Max Carey
Brooklyn Dodgers Manager
1934–1936
Succeeded by:
Burleigh Grimes
Preceded by:
Bill McKechnie
Boston Bees/Boston Braves Manager
1938-1943
Succeeded by:
Bob Coleman
Preceded by:
Bucky Harris
New York Yankees Manager
1949-1960
Succeeded by:
Ralph Houk
Preceded by:
First manager
New York Mets Manager
1962-1965
Succeeded by:
Wes Westrum
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