Posted: Wednesday March 16, 2005 4:37PM; Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 4:37PM
Have a question or opinion for John? He might answer or address it in his next blog.
As the government sticks its red, white and blue proboscis into the steroid scandal, one (yours truly) prays that the ghost of Casey Stengel will be summoned to Washington, D.C. Heaven knows, Bud Selig has some 'splainin' to do and you can safely bet your autographed Jose Canseco flaxseed oil dispenser that we're going to be treated to a nice load of standard-issue hummina-hummina-hummina.
Methinks Beleaguered Bud would at least keep us awake by delivering the kind of surreally enchanting and utterly hilarious performance The Ol' Perfesser did on July 9, 1953 while testifying before a Senate subcommittee pondering the weighty matter of the major leagues' exemption from antitrust laws. Herewith, an excerpt. Enjoy.
Sen. Estes Kefauver: "Mr. Stengel, you are the manager of the New York Yankees. Will you give us very briefly your background and your views about this legislation?"
Stengel: "Well, I started in professional ball in 1910. I have been in professional ball, I would say, for 48 years. I have been employed by numerous ballclubs in the majors and in the minor leagues. ... I had many years that I was not so successful as a ballplayer, as it is a game of skill. And then I was no doubt discharged by baseball in which I had to go back to the minor leagues as a manager, and after being in the minor leagues as a manager, I became a major league manager in several cities and was discharged. We call it discharged because there is no question that I had to leave. [Laughter.]
Sen. Kefauver: "Mr. Stengel, are you prepared to answer particularly why baseball wants this bill passed?"
Stengel: "Well, I would have to say at the present time, I think that baseball has advanced in this respect for the player help. That is an amazing statement for me to make, because you can retire with an annuity at 50 and what organization in America allows you to retire at 50 and receive more money?
"Now the second thing about baseball that I think is very interesting to the public or to all of us is that it is the owner's own fault if he does not improve his club, along with the officials in the ballclub and the players. Now what causes that? If I am going to go on the road and we are a traveling ballclub and you know the cost of transportation now -- we travel sometimes with three Pullman coaches, the New York Yankees, and I am just a salaried man and do not own stock in the New York Yankees. I found out that in traveling with the New York Yankees on the road and all, that it is the best, and we have broken records in Washington this year, we have broken them in every city but New York and we have lost two clubs that have gone out of the city of New York.
"Of course, we have had some bad weather. I would say that they are mad at us in Chicago, we fill the parks. They have come out to see good material. I will say they are mad at us in Kansas City, but we broke their attendance record. Now on the road we only get possibly 27 cents. I am not positive of these figures, as I am not an official. If you go back 15 years or if I owned stock in the club, I would give them to you."
Sen. Kefauver: "Mr. Stengel, I am not sure that I made my question clear."
Stengel: "Yes, sir. Well, that is all right. I am not sure I am going to answer yours perfectly, either." [Laughter.]
Sen. John A. Carroll: "The question Sen. Kefauver asked you was what, in your honest opinion, with your 48 years of experience, is the need for this legislation in view of the fact that baseball has not been subject to antitrust laws?"
The grand kicker to thousands of words of prime Stengelese came when Mickey Mantle was called and Kefauver asked, "Mr. Mantle, do you have any observations with reference to the application of antitrust laws to baseball?"
Mantle: "My views are just about the same as Casey's."