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Casey Stengel

Casey Stengel

Position(s):
OF
Nicknames:
The Old Perfessor
Born:
July 30, 1890
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Left
Height:
5' 11"
Weight:
175 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-17-1912 with BRO
Hall of Fame:
1966

One of the most beloved figures in baseball history, Casey Stengel made friends in the press, the stands, and the banquet halls, yet was rarely loved by his own players. It wasn't for lack of success - he won ten pennants with the Yankees and seven World Series titles, including five in a row. But few remember that Casey also managed the woeful Dodgers and Braves before he landed in New York. Amazingly, despite a .623 winning mark in pinstripes, Stengel finished his managerial career with just a .508 percentage. When not managing the Yanks he limped in at a .394 mark. At the end of his career he was the first manager of the New York Mets, serving more as a promoter and crowd attraction than anything else.

Quotes From Casey Stengel
"Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player. It's staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in."

Teams Casey Stengel Managed
Brooklyn Dodgers (1934-1936)
Boston Braves (1938-1943)
New York Yankees (1949-1960)
New York Mets (1962-1965)

Casey's Best Year as a Manager
We'll pick 1960, because in that year - Casey's last in the Bronx - he did his most remarkable managing job. Juggling players, Stengel got at least 100 plate appearances for 13 different players. Only Roger Maris, Bill Skowron, and Mantle had good years by their standards. It was the season he earned this earlier compliment from Connie Mack - "I never saw a man who juggled his lineup so much and who played so many hunches so successfully." According to the pythagorean method, the Yanks should have won somewhere around 89 games - but Casey brought them in at 97 wins - and regained the AL Pennant. Offensively the team was built around the home run. On the mound, only one pitcher (Art Ditmar), won as many as 15 games, but the Yanks still finished second in ERA and had a strong bullpen led by Bobby Shantz, Luis Arroyo, Duke Maas, and Ryne Duren. Though they lost the World Series, they outscored the Bucs, losing on Mazeroski's famous home run in Game Seven. Stengel was dismissed in the off-season and responded with: "I'll never make the mistake of being 70 again."

The Anti-Yankees
In 1962, the Mets had their first game rained out...and the season pretty much went down hill from there. The team was a cobbled together group of ex-Dodgers and ex-Giants, meant to be more lovable than effective. It could not be said that, at a major league level, the 1962 Mets were competent at any single aspect of the game. They could not run, they could not hit or field, and they certainly could not pitch. They were lovable though. And fans from all five Boroughs packed into the Polo Grounds to see these "anti-Yankees." "Can't anybody here play this game?," manager Casey Stengel asked, and most often, the answer was no.

The hiring of Stengel was the brilliant stroke of the expansion Mets. They knew they were going to stink, and they knew that Stengel could translate those particular odors to the press in a way that would bring fans out anyway. "It's a great honor for me to join the Knickerbockers," he said at the first team press conference, as reporters looked up from their notebooks. Throughout the season, his remarks had that same befuddled spin on them. Was he serious? Was he kidding? Was he senile? He was a riot.

Already a NYC favorite after managing Brooklyn for nine years and the Yanks for another twelve, he'd been unceremoniously dumped by the Bronx Bombers in 1960. New Yorkers were clamoring for the return of Stengel, because they knew that if he couldn't win, he could bring his own head-scratching style to losing.

Here is a burst of classic Stengelese: "Well, we've got this Johnny Lewis in the outfield. They hit a ball to him yesterday, and he turned left, then he turned right, then he went straight back and caught the ball. He made three good plays in one."

Before the 1962 season, National League owners cast off their worst players in order to form two new teams --- the Houston Colt .45s and New York Mets. Each existing NL team left 15 players unprotected for an "expansion draft", and the new teams were allowed to take players at the then usurious cost of $75,000 per player. They were also allowed to take four "premium" players at double the original rate.

To give you an idea of how much the Colts and Mets were forced to overpay the owners already in power, here is a look at two of the "premium" players the Mets got in the draft: RHP, Jay Hook, age 26: His 11-19 record with the '60 Reds was his career year, he retired in '64 after going 12-34 over parts of three seasons with the Amazin's.

RHP, Bob Miller, age 23: Miller was a career 9-9 pitcher who had pitched fairly well for the Cardinals in relief. Miller went on to pitch for a total of 17 big-league years, accumulating a 69-81 record, with a completely average ERA. He was the "find" of the expansion draft. To hammer the point home, Don Zimmer, a career .235 hitter, was a "premium" player in the 1962 expansion draft, and since he'd been a Brooklyn Dodger, the Mets picked him up, too. Their first pick overall, though -- and therefore the first Met -- was catcher Hobie Landrith, taken during the not-so-premium part of the affair. Hobie's career average was .233, and he'd been a full-time catcher in only one of his previous eleven seasons, but manager Casey Stengel summed the situation up neatly: "You start with a catcher," he explained, "Or you'll have a lot of passed balls."

The rest of the team was fleshed out with has-been's, never-were's, and ex-New York City players: Gil Hodges, Roger Craig, Charlie Neal, and Gus Bell. They also picked up a slugger, Frank Thomas (whose 34 dingers placed him sixth in the league, yet still stood as a Met record for 13 years), and a former superstar in outfielder Richie Ashburn. When his legs would let him play, he was still good enough to get on base, and he was still popular enough to fill a few thousand seats per night, win or lose.

The Mets were all set to open versus the Cardinals on April 10th, but their first loss was postponed by rain. The next day, they played. Former Dodgers Gil Hodges and Charlie Neal came through with homers, but former Dodger Roger Craig was shellacked, and didn't make it past the fourth inning. The Mets lost, 11-4. The three relief pitchers Stengel used that night (Clem Labine, Herb Moford, and Bob Moorhead) were all released within the month. They lost the next eight in a row, having been outscored 74-22 during that initial 0-9 run. When they won their first game, the next day, on a complete game five-hitter by the immortal Jay Hook, they cracked open champagne and celebrated like pennant winners. It probably was the high point of the season. They went 40-120 over the course of the season, and were probably the worst team in baseball history, though the 1899 Cleveland Spiders deserve a share of the title.

The '62 Mets only had one player atop the individual leaderboards: Losses, Roger Craig, 24. And he was their best pitcher. — Kirk Robinson

Casey's "Nine Old Men"
Managing the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League in 1948, Casey Stengel won the pennant on the final day of the season. His team was an interesting mixture of former big leaugers, minor league veterans, and young players on their way to the majors. But because most of the key performers were older than their competition in the PCL, Casey's team was dubbed "The Nine Old Men."

Included on the team was former All-Star catcher Ernie Lombardi, 40 years old and in his first season out of the majors. 41-year old Southpaw Thornton Lee, with 117 big league victories to his credit, was on Casey's staff. Also on the staff was "Abba Dabba" Jim Tobin, a nine-year major league veteran, retired in Oakland. Cookie Lavagetto, an infielder primarily for the Dodgers in a ten-year career, served as a player/coach, seeing action alongside the brazen Billy Martin, who would one day play under Stengel in the pinstripes of the Yankees. Two other key pitchers on his staff were Charley Gassaway, a career minor leaguer who won nearly 150 games in the bushes, and Floyd Speer, who spent all but a handful of games in the minors in a career that spanned three decades.

The following season, Stengel was hired to manage the Yankees in a surpise move, replacing Bucky Harris. Stengel would win pennants in his first five seasons at the helm of the Yankees, extending his own streak to six.

Quotes by Casey Stengel

"Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player. It's staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in."

"All I ask is that you bust your heiny on that field."

"Don't cut my throat, I may want to do that later myself."

"Don't drink in the hotel bar, that's where I do my drinking."

Read more quotes by Casey Stengel

Quotes about Casey Stengel

“He’s one of the smartest men in baseball, in business, in anything he’d try.”
-- Edna Stengel, Casey’s wife

“He could fool you. When Casey wanted to make sense he could. But he usually preferred to make you laugh."
-- Yogi Berra

"I don't think anybody could have managed our club like Casey did. He made what some people call stupid moves, but about eight or nine out of ten of them worked."
-- Don Larsen

“If Casey Stengel really is dead, which, as he once said, most people his age really are, I’d like to bet his liver still is quivering. His personal filter was so marvelous that he gave us younger guys an inferiority complex as well as a hangover.”
-- Bob Broeg (“Baseball’s Greatest Quotations” By: Paul Dickson, pg.62)

QUOTES

About Casey

"He’s one of the smartest men in baseball, in business, in anything he’d try."
-- Edna Stengel, Casey’s wife

"He could fool you. When Casey wanted to make sense he could. But he usually preferred to make you laugh."
-- Yogi Berra

"I don't think anybody could have managed our club like Casey did. He made what some people call stupid moves, but about eight or nine out of ten of them worked."
-- Don Larsen

"If Casey Stengel really is dead, which, as he once said, most people his age really are, I’d like to bet his liver still is quivering. His personal filter was so marvelous that he gave us younger guys an inferiority complex as well as a hangover."
-- Bob Broeg (“Baseball’s Greatest Quotations” By: Paul Dickson, pg.62)

"One time in spring training, we had the hit-and-run on, and Carl Erskine threw me a curve and I stuck it out into a double play. I came back to the bench and Casey said, ‘Next time, tra-la-la.’ I didn’t know what tra-la-la meant, but next time up, I hit a line drive, right into a double play. When I sat down, Casey came over and said, ‘Like I told you, tra-la-la."
-- Whitey Herzog (“Baseball’s Greatest Quotations” By: Paul Dickson, pg.182)

"Casey Stengel just can’t keep from being Casey Stengel."
-- Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis (“Baseball’s Greatest Quotations” By: Paul Dickson, pg.235)

"He can talk all day and all night, on any kind of track wet or dry."
-- John Lardner (“Baseball’s Greatest Quotations” By: Paul Dickson, pg.237)

"I never saw a man who juggled his lineup so much and who played so many hunches so successfully."
-- Connie Mack (“Baseball’s Greatest Quotations” By: Paul Dickson, pg.260)

"Well, God is getting an earful today. I hope he understands the infield fly rule, the hit and run, how to pitch to Hornsby with men on, when it would do you some good to bunt and what happened in the 1913 World Series. He will get an illustrated lecture on the hook slide, the best place to play Babe Ruth, when to order the infield in and how to steal on left handers.
” At the end of all this, the narrator will doff his cap and a sparrow will fly out. They finally slipped and called a third strike past Casey Stengel. He can’t argue the call. The game is over. Dusk is settling on the bleachers, the lights are turned on in the press box where ‘my writers’ are putting ‘30’ to the final bits of Stengelese they will ever type.”
-- Jim Murray on the death of Casey Stengel (“Baseball’s Greatest Quotations” By: Paul Dickson, pg.300)

"This is the way old Casey Stengel ran, running his home run home when two were out in the ninth inning and the score was tied and the ball was bounding inside the Yankee yard.
“This is the way—
“His mouth wide open.
“His warped old legs bending beneath him at every stride.
“His arms flying back and forth like those of a man swimming with a crawl stroke.
“His flanks heaving, his breath whistling, his hear far back…
“The warped old legs, twisted and bent by many a year of baseball campaigning, just barely held out under Casey Stengel until he reached the plate running his home run home.”
-- Damon Runyon (“Baseball’s Greatest Quotations” By: Paul Dickson, pg.375)

“Good hands, good power, runs exceptionally well, nice glove, left-handed line drive hitter. Good throwing arm. May be too damn aggressive, bad temper.”
-- Larry Sutton in Casey’s scouting report in 1911. (“Baseball’s Greatest Quotations” By: Paul Dickson, pg.431)

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Brooklyn Dodgers, Casey Stengel, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates

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