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L E’s Stories – “Never Let A Losing Pitcher Drive The Bus—Especially A Left-Hander” – Our Tribute To Yankee Manager Casey Stengel + Stengel-ese

If you have read any of my stories about the New York Yankees and their players….then you know that our Bone Daddy, the original Sportsphile, grew up being a huge New York Yankees fan….as evidenced by the awesome Yankees baseball collection that he gave to ImaSportsphile (see in Memorabilia Section) ….which spans from 1949 to 1991….as he has up to 65% to 85% of every player who was in Pinstripes….on every Yankee team from 1952 to 1985…and since the Yankees “Chairman of the Board” pitcher Whitey Ford just passed away at age 91 on October 8, 2020….as the last of a Yankees era that ran from 1949 to 1960….which provided one of the greatest dynasties that sports has ever seen….and the man who skippered the ship through was the inimitable Casey Stengel….who only won 8 World Series….10 American League Pennants….1149 regular season games….for a .623 winning percentage in just 10 seasons at the helm.  When you consider the fact that Casey Stengel led the Yankees to five straight World Series Championships in his 1st five years (1949 thru 1953) as manager is enough of an accomplishment to get this story written….but he went on to lead the Yanks to two more World Series Titles….along with five more American League Pennants….with six appearances in the ALCS in his next six years as the Yankee manager….and some how or another, the “Yankee brass” found a good enough reason to fire Stengel after the 1960 season. However, even when you consider all that he accomplished on the field, it is important to remember that Casey Stengel created a whole new culture of baseball fans who hung on every word that Casey had to say….cuz he spoke a language called “Stengeleze”….which everyone seemed to love….even his players, as HOF catcher Yogi Berra was a such a good student of “Stengeleze”…..that he invented a whole new category of speech that became universally known as “Yogi -isms”.  So, bottom line….we are “tickled pink” to tell this story herewith….as Casey Stengel surely deserves to forever showcased here at ImaSportsphile.

MLB – 1949 To 1960 – YES Network Special – Yankeeology: Casey Stengel

Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel (July 30, 1890 – September 29, 1975) was an American Major League Baseball right fielder and manager…. who best known as the manager of the championship New York Yankees from 1949 to 1960…. and later, the manager of the expansion New York Mets.  He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.

Specials & MLB – 1962 – “What’s My Line?” – Featuring NY Yankees Mgr Casey Stengel

Stengel was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1890.  In 1910, he began a professional baseball career that would span over half a century….. when after almost three seasons in the minor leagues, reached the major leagues late in 1912, as an outfielder, for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His six seasons there saw some success such as playing for Brooklyn’s 1916 National League championship team….but he also developed a reputation as a clown.  After repeated clashes over pay with the Dodgers owner, Charlie Ebbets, Stengel was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1918….however, he enlisted in the Navy that summer for the remainder of World War I.  After returning to baseball, he continued his pay disputes….which resulted in trades to the  Philadelphia Phillies in 1919…..then to the New York Giants in 1921….. where he learned a great deal about baseball from the manager, John McGraw….while having some of the more glorious moments in his career….such as hitting an inside-the-park home run in Game 1 of the 1923 World Series to defeat the Yankees. His major league playing career ended with the Boston Braves in 1925….when he then began a career as a manager.

MLB – 1962 – Casey Stengel Takes “Stengelese” To A New Level. Say What?

The first twenty years of Stengel’s second career brought mostly poor finishes….especially during his MLB managerial stints with the Dodgers from 1934–1936….and the Braves from 1938–1943….but he thereafter enjoyed success at the minor league level….when Yankee  general manager George Weiss hired him as manager of the New York Yankees in October 1948…..and that is when Stengel’s Yankees won the World Series five consecutive times (1949–1953)….which is the only time that has been achieved in MLB history.  Although the team won ten pennants in his twelve seasons…..and won seven World Series….the fact is his final two years brought less success….with a 3rd-place finish in 1959….and a loss in the 1960 World Series. By then he was 70 years old….and was dismissed by the Yankees shortly after the defeat.

MLB – 1958 – Special Highlights – Yankees Mgr Casey Stengel Appears Before Congress

Stengel had become famous for his humorous and sometimes disjointed way of speech while with the Yankees…..as these skills of showmanship served the expansion Mets well when they hired him in late 1961….as he promoted the team tirelessly…..as well as managing it to a 40–120 win–loss record….which was the most losses of any 20th century MLB team. The team finished last all four years he managed…. but was the team was boosted by considerable support from fans….as that had a great deal to do with Casey Stengel….who retired in 1965, and became a fixture at baseball events for the rest of his life. Stengel is described as one of the great managers in major league history and is remembered as one of the great characters in baseball history.

MLB – 1919 – New York Yankees Story – “Casey Stengel And The Sparrow” – Told By Teammate Carmen Hill

Stengel had been talked about as a possible Yankee manager in the early 1940’s….but longtime team boss Ed Barrow (who retired in 1945) refused to consider it…..and after Yankee manager Joe McCarthy  retired during the 1946 season….who was followed by the interim appointment of catcher Bill Dickey as player-manager….when Bucky Harris was given the job in 1947…..as Stengel’s name was mentioned for the job before Harris got it….but Larry MacPhail, then in charge of the franchise, was opposed.  Harris and the Yankees won the World Series that year….but finished third in 1948….albeit they were not eliminated until the penultimate day….then Harris was fired….and  MacPhail could no longer block Stengel’s hiring….as he had sold his interest in the Yankees after the 1947 season. Weiss became general manager after MacPhail’s departure….and urged his partners in the Yankees to allow the appointment of Stengel….who aided his own cause by winning the championship with Oakland during the time the Yankee job stood open.  Del Webb, who owned part of the Yankees, had initial concerns but went along….cuz Yankee scouts on the West Coast recommended Stengel….and Webb’s support helped bring around co-owner Dan Topping.

 

MLB – 1962 – Special NY Mets Film – Mgr Casey Stengel Talks About His “Amazin’ Mets”

Stengel was introduced as Yankee manager on October 12, 1948…. which was in fact the 25th anniversary of his 2nd World Series home run to beat the Yankees back in his playing days.  Joe DiMaggio  attended the press conference as a sign of team support. Stengel faced obstacles to being accepted….as Harris had been popular with the press and public….while the businesslike Yankee corporate culture and successful tradition were thought to be ill matched with a manager who had the reputation of a clown….and who had never had a major league team finish in the top half of the standings….plus, Stengel’s MLB career had been in the National League….which meant that there were several American League parks in which he had neither managed nor played.  Stengel tried to keep a low profile during the 1949 Yankee spring training at St. Petersburg, Florida….but there was considerable media attention as Stengel shuttled rookies from one position on the field to another….while endlessly shuffling his lineup….but he had the advantage of diminished expectations due to a bone spur in the heel of Yankee superstar, Joe DiMaggio….and few picked New York to win the pennant….then there were other injuries once the season began….and Stengel, who had initially planned a conservative, stable lineup in his first American League season, was forced to improvise.  Although  platooning, playing right-handed batters against left-handed pitchers and the reverse, against whom they are on average more able to hit, had been known for some years, Stengel popularized it, and his use gave the practice its name, coined by a sportswriter and borrowed from football.  For example, in the early part of the 1949 season, Stengel might play Bobby Brown at third base and Cliff Mapes and Gene Woodling in the outfield against right-handers. Against left-handers, Stengel might play Billy Johnson at third with Johnny Lindell and Hank Bauer in the outfield.

MLB – 1949 To 1960 – N Y Yankees Special – The Casey Stengel Years

After the team blew leads and lost both ends of a doubleheader in Philadelphia on May 15, Stengel called a team meeting in which he criticized the players responsible for the two losses, but also predicted greatness for them, and told the team it was going to win. The team then won 13 of its next 14 games. Yankee sportscaster Curt Gowdy, who was present, later stated, “that speech in Philadelphia was the turning point of the season”.  DiMaggio returned from injury on June 28 after missing 65 games….when he hit four home runs in three games to help sweep Boston and extend the Yankees’ league lead. Despite DiMaggio’s return, the lineup remained plagued with injuries. After consulting with Stengel, Weiss obtained Johnny Mize from the Giants….but he too was soon sidelined with a separated shoulder. Twelve games behind on the Fourth of July, the Red Sox steadily gained ground on the Yankees….and eventually tied them by sweeping a two-game set at Fenway September 24th and 25th….which was the 1st time the Yankees had not been in sole possession of 1st place since the 3rd game of the season. The Red Sox took the lead the following day with a comeback win in a makeup game…..as Stengel lost his temper at the umpire for the 1st time in Yankee uniform….and although he was not ejected, he was fined by the league.  The season came down to a two-game set with the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium…. with the home team one game behind and needing to win both. Stengel, during the 1949 season, had shown himself more apt than his peers to bring in a relief pitcher…. and when during the 1st game, starter Allie Reynolds gave up the 1st two runs in the 3rd inning….. the manager brought in Joe Page….who proceeded to walk in two more runs…but then shut out the Red Sox the rest of the way as the Yankees came back to win, 5–4…..which set up a winner-take-all game for the league title. The Yankees took a 5–0 lead before Boston scored three in the 9th….but Vic Raschi was able to prevent further damage….which gave the Yankees the pennant….and Stengel’s 1st as a major league manager.

MLB – 1951 – MLB Season Preview  – NL’s Philadelphia Phillies + AL’s New York Yankees – With Mgr Casey Stengel

In the 1949 World Series, Stengel’s 1st as a participant since 1923, the Yankees faced the Brooklyn Dodgers….who were assembling the team that would challenge the Yankees through much of his time in New York….as the teams split the 1st two games at Yankee Stadium.  Before Game 3 at Ebbets Field, Stengel was called upon to introduce his surviving teammates from the 1916 pennant-winning Brooklyn club…. which he did emotionally. The Yankees won Game 3, and during Game 4, a Yankee victory, Stengel left the dugout to shout to catcher Yogi Berra to throw the ball to 2nd base….which Berra did to catch Pee Wee Reese trying to take an extra base.  For this breach of baseball’s rules, Stengel was reprimanded after the game by Commissioner Happy Chandler. The Yankees won Game 5 as well to take the Series…. and during the celebration after the game, Del Webb said of Stengel to the press, “I knew he would win, whether we got some more players for him or not”.                                                                                                               

MLB – 1949 – World Series Highlights Film – Brooklyn Dodgers Vs New York Yankees – With Lew Fonseca Narrating

During the 1949 season, Stengel had been more subdued than he usually was….but being the manager of the defending world champions….and the Major League Manager of the Year relieved his inhibitions….as he was thereafter his talkative self….plus, he also was more forceful in running the team….which was not always to the liking of veteran players such as DiMaggio and Phil Rizzuto.  As part of his incessant shuffling of the lineup, Stengel had DiMaggio play first base, a position to which he was unaccustomed and refused to play after the 1st game….while Stengel considered DiMaggio’s decline in play as he neared the end of his stellar career more important than his resentment.  In August, with the slugger in the middle of a batting slump, Stengel benched him, stating he needed a rest….when DiMaggio returned after six games and hit .370 for the rest of the season….while winning the slugging percentage title.  Other young players on the 1950 team were Billy Martin and Whitey Ford. The ascendance of these rookies meant more of the Yankees accepted Stengel’s techniques….while diminishing the number of those from the McCarthy era who resented their new manager. The Detroit Tigers were the Yankees’ main competition, leading for much of the summer, but the Yankees passed them in the middle of September to win the pennant by three games. In the 1950 World Series, the Yankees played the Phillies, another of Stengel’s old teams…..as the Yankees won in four games.                                                                                                               

MLB – 1950 – World Series Highlights Film – Philadelphia Phillies Vs New York Yankees – With Lew Fonseca Narrating

Before spring training in 1950, the Yankees had pioneered the idea of an instructional school for rookies and other young players. This was the brainchild of Stengel and Weiss.  Complaints from other teams that the Yankees were violating time limits on spring training….and were using their money for competitive advantage led to modifications… but the concept survived and was eventually broadly adopted.  Among those invited to the 1951 early camp was 19-year-old Mickey Mantle…. whose speed and talent awed Stengel…while spending the previous year in the minor leagues….and that is when Stengel moved Mantle from shortstop to the outfield….with the reasoning that Phil Rizzuto, the shortstop, was likely to play several more years.  Both Mantle and the Yankees started the 1951 season slowly…..when on July 14, Mantle was sent to Kansas City to regain his confidence at the plate….but was soon recalled to the Yankees….and although he hit only .267 for the season, this was four points better than DiMaggio, in his final season. Much of the burden of winning a 3rd consecutive pennant fell on Berra, who put together an MVP season…..as the White Sox and then the Indians led the league for much of the summer….but the Yankees, never far behind, put together a torrid final month of the season to win the pennant by five games.                                                                                       

MLB – 1966 – Baseball Hall Of Fame Induction Speech – Casey Stengel

The Yankee opponents in the 1951 World Series were the Giants….with Game 1 being played the day after they won the National League pennant in the Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff.  On an emotional high,  the Giants beat the Yankees in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium….but Game 2 was a Yankee victory….however, Mantle suffered a knee injury and was out for the Series….as this injury would be the start of knee problems that would eventually shorten Mantle’s career.  The Giants won Game 3….and that is when DiMaggio stepped up with six hits in the following three games….including a home run to crown his career. The Yankees won Games 4 and 5…and then staked Vic Raschi to a 4–1 lead in Game 6 before Stengel had Johnny Sain come in to pitch in relief.  When Sain loaded the bases with none out in the 9th, Stengel brought in Bob Kuzava, a left-hander, to pitch against the Giants, even though right-handers Monte Irvin and Bobby Thomson were due to bat.  The Giants scored twice, but Kuzava hung on….and the Yanks and Stengel had their 3rd straight World Series championship.                                                      

MLB – 1951 – World Series Highlights Film – New York Giants Vs New York Yankees – With Lew Fonseca Narrating

DiMaggio’s retirement after the 1951 season gave Stengel greater control over the players….as the relationship between superstar and manager had sometimes been fraught.  Stengel moved Mantle from right to center field in DiMaggio’s place.  The Yankees were not the favorites to win the pennant again in 1952, with DiMaggio retired, Mantle still recovering from his injury and several Yankees in military service were deployed in the Korean War.  Sportswriters favored the Indians. Younger players, some of whom Stengel had developed, came to the forefront….with Billy Martin the regular 2nd baseman for the first time.  Mantle proved slow to develop, but hit well towards the end of the season to finish at .311.  The Yankee season was also slow to get on track….as the team had a record of 18–17 on May 30…. but they improved thereafter.  Stengel prepared nearly 100 different lineup cards for the 1952 season. The race was still tight in early September, and on September 5, Stengel lectured the team for excessive levity on the train after the Yankees lost two of three to Philadelphia. Embarrassed by the episode, which made its way into print, the Yankees responded by winning 15 of their next 19, clinching the pennant on September 27.                                                                                    

MLB – 1962 – New York Mets Special – “The Most Beloved Worst Baseball Team Of All Time”                                               

The 1952 World Series was against the Brooklyn Dodgers, who by then had their stars of the 1950’s such as Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges and  Duke Snider….with the team later being nicknamed “The Boys of Summer” The teams split the first four games….tehn with his pitching staff tired, Stengel gave the start to late-season acquisition Ewell Blackwell….who surrendered four runs in five innings….and the Yankees lost the game in 11 innings to the Dodgers behind Carl Erskine’s complete game.  Needing to win two in a row at Ebbets Field, Stengel pitched Raschi in Game 6….who won with a save from Reynolds.  With no tomorrow in Game 7, Stengel sent four pitchers to the mound….while Mantle hit a home run to break a 2–2 tie…and Martin preserved the lead by making a difficult catch off a Robinson popup… as Kuzava again secured the final outs for a Series victory….when the Yankees won 4–2 for their 4th straight World Series victory….which  matched the record set in 1936–1939, also by the Yankees.                               

MLB – 1952 – World Series Highlights Film – Brooklyn Dodgers Vs New York Yankees – With Lew Fonseca Narrating

The sportswriters had picked other teams to win the pennant in Stengel’s first four years as Yankee manager….but in 1953, they picked the Yankees…. and this time they were proven correct…..as an 18-game winning streak in June placed them well in front….when they coasted to their 5th consecutive league championship….which was the first time a team had won five straight pennants. The Yankees played the Dodgers again in the World Series….which was less dramatic than the previous years….as the Yankees won in six games….with Mantle, Martin, Berra and Gil McDougald….who were players developed under Stengel….as they took the reigns and led the Yankees and Stengel to  their 5th consecutive World Series title…..as still the only team in MLB history to accomplish that feat in 2020.  Stengel, having taken the managerial record for consecutive pennants from McGraw (1921–1924) and McCarthy (1936–1939) and for consecutive titles from the latter, would say, “You know, John McGraw was a great man in New York and he won a lot of pennants. But Stengel is in town now, and he’s won a lot of pennants too”.                                                                                        

MLB – 1953 – World Series Highlights Film – Brooklyn Dodgers Vs New York Yankees – With Lew Fonseca Narrating

The Yankees started the defense of their title in 1954 with an opening day loss to the Washington Senators in the presence of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Even though the Yankees won 103 games, the most regular season victories they would have under Stengel, they lost by 8 games to the Indians, managed by Stengel’s old friend Al Lopez.  In spite of the defeat, Stengel was given a new two-year contract at $75,000 per year.  By the mid-1950’s, Stengel was becoming a national figure, familiar from television broadcasts of the Yankees on NBC’s Game of the Week, and from managing in most World Series and All-Star Games during his tenure.  National magazines such as Look and Sports Illustrated did feature stories about Stengel, and his turn of phrase became known as “Stengelese”. The magazines not only told stories about the manager’s one-liners and jokes, but recounted the pranks from his playing days, such as the grapefruit dropped from the plane and the sparrow under the cap.  According to Richard Bak in his biography of Stengel, “people across the country grew enamored of the grandfatherly fellow whose funny looks and fractured speech were so at odds with the Yankees’ bloodless corporate image”.

 

MLB – 1956 – World Series Game 5 Highlights – Don Larsen Pitches A Perfect Game

The Yankees won the pennant again in 1955, breaking open a close pennant race in September to take the American League. They played the Dodgers again in the World Series….which the Dodgers won in seven games. The Dodgers won Game 7, 2–0, behind the pitching of Johnny Podres….as Stengel, after losing his 1st World Series as a manager blamed himself for not instructing his hitters to bat more aggressively against Podres.  Billy Martin stated, “It’s a shame for a great manager like that to have to lose”.  There was not much of a pennant race in the American League in 1956, with the Yankees leading from the 2nd week of the season forwards.  With little suspense as to the team’s standing, much attention turned to Mantle’s batting, as he made a serious run at Babe Ruth’s record at the time of 60 home runs in a season….while finishing with 52….and winning the Triple Crown. On August 25, Old-Timers’ Day, Stengel and Weiss met with the little-used Rizzuto….who was the last of the “McCarthy Yankees” and released him from the team so they could acquire Enos Slaughter….as the process left Rizzuto bitter….especially since he had never a Stengel fan.                                                                                                                           

MLB – 1955 – World Series Highlights Film – New York Yankees Vs Brooklyn Dodgers – With Lew Fonseca Narrating

The World Series that year was again against the Dodgers….who won the 1st two games at Ebbets Field….when Stengel lectured the team before Game 3 at Yankee Stadium….and the team responded with a victory then and in Game 4.  For Game 5, Stengel pitched Don Larsen, who had been knocked out of Game 2….who responded with a perfect game….which is still in 2020, the only one in major league postseason history.  The Dodgers won Game 6 as the Series returned to Ebbets Field…..when many expected Whitey Ford to start Game 7….but Stengel chose Johnny Kucks, an 18-game winner that season who had been used twice in relief in the Series….as Kucks threw a three-hit shutout as the Yankees won the championship 9–0….which Stengel’s 6th as their manager.                                                                                             

MLB – 1956 – World Series Highlights Film – Brooklyn Dodgers Vs New York Yankees – With Lew Fonseca Narrating

New York got off to a slow start in the 1957 season….and by early June was six games out.  By then, the team was making headlines off the field….as some of the Yankees were known for partying late into the night….which was something Stengel turned a blind eye to as long as the team performed well….when the May 16 brawl at the Copacabana nightclub in New York involved Martin, Berra, Mantle, Ford, Hank Bauer and other Yankees….which resulted in the arrest of Bauer (the charge of assault was later dropped)….and exhausted Yankee management’s patience with Martin.  Since Stengel was close to Martin, who took great pride in being a Yankee….that’s when Yanks owner Topping and Weiss did not involve Casey in the trade talks that ensued….then on June 15, Martin was traded to the Kansas City Athletics.  Martin wrote in his autobiography that Stengel could not look him in the eye as the manager told him of the trade. The two, once close friends, rarely spoke in the years to come.  The Yankees recovered from their slow start….while winning the American League pennant by eight games. They faced the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series.  The Braves (Stengel had managed them when they played in Boston) defeated the Yankees in seven games….with Lew Burdette, who had been a Yankee until traded in 1950, beating New York three times.  Stengel stated in an interview, “We’re going to have Burditis on our minds next year”.                                                                      

MLB – 1957 – Highlights – White Sox Vs Yankees – With Yanks Mgr Casey Stengel Shoving Umpire After Minnie Minosa Attempt To Steal Home

What was seen as a failure to keep discipline on the team hurt Stengel’s standing with the Yankee owners, Topping, Weiss and Webb, as did the defeat in the 1957 Series. Stengel was by then aged 67, had several times fallen asleep in the dugout, and players complained that he was growing more irritable with the years. Former Yankee catcher Ralph Houk, who had been successful as a minor league manager and was Stengel’s 1st base coach, was seen by ownership as the next manager of the Yankees. Stengel’s contract, his fifth two-year deal, was up after the 1958 season. As ownership debated whether to renew it, the Yankees led by as many as 17 games, and won the pennant by 10.  The Braves were the opponent in the 1958 World Series. The Braves won three of the first four games, but the Yankees, backed by the pitching of Bob Turley (who got two wins and a save in the final three games) stormed back to win the Series….so firing Stengel under such circumstances was not possible…and ownership gave him another two-year contract, to expire after the 1960 season.            

MLB – 1958 – World Series Highlights Film – Milwaukee Braves Vs New York Yankees – With Lew Fonseca Narrating

The Yankees finished 79–75 in 1959, in third place, their worst record since 1925, as the White Sox, managed by Lopez, won the pennant. There was considerable criticism of Stengel, who was viewed as too old and out of touch with the players.  After the 1959 season, Weiss made a trade with Kansas City to bring Roger Maris to the Yankees. Stengel was delighted with the acquisition and batted Maris third in the lineup, just in front of Mantle….and the new Yankee responded with an MVP season in 1960.  Stengel had health issues during the season, spending ten days in the hospital in late May and early June….with the illness variously reported as a bladder infection, a virus or influenza.  The Yankees were challenged by the Baltimore Orioles for most of the year….but won the pennant by eight games…which was Stengel’s 10th as manager….which tied the major league record held by McGraw.  The Yankees played the Pittsburgh Pirates, again a team Stengel had played for, in the 1960 World Series….and Stengel picked Art Ditmar, who had won the most games, 15, for the Yankees, rather than the established star, Whitey Ford.  The Pirates knocked Ditmar out of the box in the first inning, and won Game 1.  Ditmar was also knocked out of Game 5….whereas, Ford won Games 3 and 6 of the seven-game series with shutouts….but could not pitch Game 7….as he might have if Stengel had used him in Games 1 and 5. The Pirates defeated the Yankees in Game 7, 10–9, on a ninth-inning Bill Mazeroski home run.                                                                                             

MLB – 1960 – World Series Highlights Film – New York Yankees Vs Pittsburgh Pirates – With Lew Fonseca Narrating

Shortly after the Yankees returned to New York, Stengel was informed by the team owners that he would not be given a new contract. His request, that the termination be announced at a press conference, was granted and on October 18, 1960, Topping and Stengel appeared before the microphones. After Topping evaded questions from the press about whether Stengel had been fired, Stengel took the microphone, and when asked if he had been fired, stated, “Quit, fired, whatever you please, I don’t care”. Topping stated that Stengel was being terminated because of his age, 70, and alleged that this would have happened even had the Yankees won the World Series.                               

MLB – 1962 – Rare Hand Held Film Of NY Mets Mgr Casey Stengel + Players Richie Ashburn + Gil Hodges

Two days after dismissing Stengel, the Yankees announced the hiring of Houk as his replacement—part of the reason for Stengel’s firing was so that New York would not lose Houk to another team. Stengel returned to Glendale, and spent the 1961 season out of baseball for the first time since 1937. He turned down several job offers to manage, from the Tigers, San Francisco Giants and the expansion Los Angeles Angels.  He spent the summer of 1961 as vice president of the Glendale Valley National Bank, which was owned by members of Edna Stengel’s family.                                                                                                

MLB – 1948 – Oakland Oaks Special Film – “Casey And The Nine Old Men” – With Casey Stengel

As part of baseball’s expansion in the early 1960’s, a franchise was awarded to New York, to play in the National League beginning in 1962, and to be known as the New York Mets.  It was hoped that the new team would be supported by the many former Giant and Dodger fans left without a team when the franchises moved to California after the 1957 season. There were rumors through the 1961 season that Stengel would be the manager….but he initially showed no interest in managing a team that, given the rules for the expansion draft, was unlikely to be competitive.  George Weiss had been forced out as Yankee general manager and hired by the Mets.  He wanted Stengel as manager, and after talks with the Mets principal owners, Joan Whitney Payson and M. Donald Grant, Stengel was introduced as Mets manager at a press conference on October 2, 1961. Leonard Koppett of The New York Times suggested that Stengel took the job to give something back to the game that had been his life for half a century.  Weiss was convinced his scouting staff would make the Mets a respectable team in five to six years….but in the interim New York would most likely do poorly….as he hoped to overcome the challenge of attracting supporters to a losing team in the “City of Winners” by drafting well-known players who would draw fans to the Polo Grounds….where the Mets would initially play. Thus, the Mets selected a number of over-the-hill National League players, some of whom had played for the Dodgers or Giants, including Gil Hodges, Roger Craig, Don Zimmer and Frank Thomas.  Selected before them all was journeyman catcher Hobie Landrith….as Stengel explained, “You have to have a catcher or you’ll have a lot of passed balls”.  The return of Casey Stengel to spring training received considerable publicity….and when the Mets played the Yankees in an exhibition game….when Stengel played his best pitchers….while the Yankees treated it as a meaningless game….and the Mets won, 4–3.  The team won nearly as many games as it lost in spring training….but Stengel warned, “I ain’t fooled. They play different when the other side is trying too”. The Mets lost their first nine games of the regular season….while in the meantime the Pirates were 10–0….which meant the Mets were already 9​12 games out of first place. Some light appeared in May, when the Mets won 11 of 18 games to reach eighth place in the ten-team league. They then lost 17 in a row, returning to last place, where they would spend the remainder of the season.

 

MLB – 1955 – New York Yankees Special – Mgr Casey Stengel & His Yankees Arrive For Spring Training

According to sportswriter Joseph Durso, “on days when [Stengel’s] amazing Mets were, for some reason, amazing, he simply sat back and let the writers swarm over the heroes of the diamond. On days when the Mets were less than amazing—and there were many more days like that—he stepped into the vacuum and diverted the writers’ attention, and typewriters, to his own flamboyance … the perfect link with the public was formed, and it grew stronger as the team grew zanier” The Mets appealed to the younger generation of fans and became an alternative to the stuffy Yankees.  As the losing continued, a particular fan favorite was “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry….who was a “lightning-rod for disaster” in the 1962 season….while striking out to kill rallies or dropping pop flies and routine throws to first base.  During one game, Throneberry hit a massive shot to right, winding up on third base, only to be called out for missing first…..as Stengel came from the dugout to argue, only to be told that Throneberry had missed second base as well….when Stengel was heard to say….Can’t anyone play this here game?”  Stengel tried incessantly to promote the Mets, talking to reporters or anyone else who would listen. He often used the word “amazin’ “ (as he put it) and soon this became the “Amazin’ Mets”…. which was a nickname that stuck…..as Stengel urged the fans, “Come out and see my amazin’ Mets. I been in this game a hundred years but I see new ways to lose I never knew existed before”. Stengel was successful in selling the team to some extent….as the Mets drew 900,000 fans….which was half again as many as the Giants had prior to their departure….albeit the games against the Giants and Dodgers accounted for half of the total. The team was less successful on the field, finishing with a record of 40–120, the most losses of any 20th century major league team….when they finished 60​12 games behind the pennant-winning Giants….and 18 games behind ninth-place Chicago.

 

TV Ads & MLB – 1963 – Baseball Mgr Casey Stengel Interview Miss Reingold Beer Candidate Radio Ad

The 1963 season unfolded for the Mets much like the previous year’s, though they lost only eight games to begin the season, rather than nine, but they still finished 51–111, in last place. One highlight, though it did not count in the standings, was the Mayor’s Trophy Game on June 20 at Yankee Stadium. Stengel played to win; the Yankees under Houk possibly less so, and the Mets beat the Yankees, 6–2.  In 1964, the Mets moved into the new Shea Stadium….as Stengel commented that “the park is lovelier than my team”. The Mets finished 53–109, again in last place. By this time, the fans were starting to be impatient with the losing….and a number of people, including sportscaster Howard Cosell and former Dodger Jackie Robinson, criticized Stengel as ineffective and prone to fall asleep on the bench. Stengel was given a contract for 1965, though Creamer suggested that Weiss, Grant and Payson would have preferred that the 74-year-old Stengel retire.  The early part of the 1965 season saw similar futility. On July 25, the Mets had a party at Toots Shor’s for the invitees to the following day’s Old-Timers’ Game.  Sometime during that evening, Stengel fell off a barstool and broke his hip. The circumstances of his fall are not known with certainty….as he did not realize he had been severely injured until the following day. Stengel spent his 75th birthday in the hospital. Recognizing that considerable rehabilitation would be required, he retired as manager of the Mets on August 30, replaced by Wes Westrum, one of his coaches. The Mets would again finish in last place.                                                                                                               

Music & MLB – 1959 – Ed Sullivan Show Special – Yankees Whitey Ford + Yogi Berra + Mickey Mantle + Moose Skowron Sing – “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”                                                                                                  

A diagnosis of cancer of the lymph glands had been made, and Stengel realized he was dying. In mid-September, he was admitted to Glendale Memorial Hospital, but the cancer was inoperable. He died there on September 29, 1975. Stengel was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale.  The tributes to Stengel upon his death were many. Maury Allen wrote, “He is gone and I am supposed to cry, but I laugh. Every time I saw the man, every time I heard his voice, every time his name was mentioned, the creases in my mouth would give way and a smile would come to my face” Richie Ashburn, a member of the 1962 Mets, stated, “Don’t shed any tears for Casey. He wouldn’t want you to … He was the happiest man I’ve ever seen” Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “God is certainly getting an earful tonight”.                                                                                                      

MLB – 1955 – World Series Highlights – New York Yankees Vs. Brooklyn Dodgers

Baseball Hall Of Fame player Richie Ashburn….who played for Stengel during the Mets years as manager says that Stengel “was the happiest man I ever knew”….and when you consider he won 7 out of 10 World Series championships….while appearing in two others….which means he only missed playing in the Series once….which would probably make any manager really happy….but Ashburn said it in 1962….while playing under Stengel with the Mets….who finished the season at 40 – 120….cuz it takes someone very special to be happy when their team loses 120 games in a season.  Regardless, when it comes to the end of the day….Casey Stengel was a baseball managing magician….who turned his magic into a Yankee dynasty for the ages….while coming from a man who was simply happy.

 

MLB – 1962 – World Series Game 6 – Brooklyn Dodgers Vs New York Yankees – Narrated By Bob Costas

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