In a sport known for its vivid characters, Casey Stengel was unique. Stengel was an imaginative prankster, possessing one of the best baseball minds ever. Stengel was just as likely to lie the magic of the referee’s call as he was to win a critical game in a critical situation.
From his teenage years to his final days as manager of the New York Mets, Stengel lived his entire life in baseball. 12 times he was an above-average major league player over 12 seasons and the most successful manager to ever meet a player rating. But not only did his success bring admiration to millions, but his dear personality won out. His warmth, toughness and his memorable monologues made him the most beloved character since Babe Ruth. Some of the terms that have become part of the baseball lore include “worm killers,” meaning low balls, “plumber,” meaning a good fire player, and “travel apple,” meaning a bad baseball player. A true legend, like Casey Stengel, the wise clown of baseball, will never be seen in sports again.
How good was Stengel? In a 12-year run with New York, the Yankees Casey won 1,149 games (compared to just 696 losses), won 10 flags and 7 World Championships. Hall of Fame director Connie Mack once said of Stengel, “I’ve never seen a man play so much catch so successfully.”
Not only was Casey Stengel known as an eccentric but also a likeable manager, he was also known as the manager behind his players. Elston Howard (the first black player the Yankees ever signed) deserved Stengel to help him overcome racial barriers. Casey Stengel would tell hotel managers that if Howard was not welcome at their facilities, he would not allow any of the Yankee players to stay there.