CNN/SI

header.gif (13k)
Main page
Poll
Which team is the Yankees' greatest of all time?
1998 (114-48)
1996 (92-70)
1978 (100-63)
1961 (109-53)
1953 (99-52)
1927 (110-44)

View Results

Photo galleries
Flashback
Multimedia
Your Turn

CNN/SI Links
Baseball main page
NYY team page
NYY batting stats
NYY pitching stats

 
1927 vs 1998 1978 vs 1998 1996 vs 1998 alltime.html winningcombo.html baberuth.html covers.html

       
Casey in the Stretch

More Flashbacks
by Gerald Holland

Issue date: October 1, 1956

Sports IllustratedAlways in a crowd, but in a way always alone, an old campaigner of the baseball wars roamed the eastern half of the United States during the last days of summer. He plodded a direct course, he hewed to a single line, he kept his sharp, all-seeing eyes focused on a single target. He sought one goal, one prize. People kept telling him the prize was already his, but he refused to believe them until it was in his grasp: his seventh pennant in eight years.

  Casey Stengel
A mastermind of baseball and of comedy, there is nobody remotely like Casey in the game.    (Richard Meek)
He is the most remarkable man in baseball, this old campaigner, this paradoxical personality known as Casey Stengel. There is nobody remotely like him in the game. A superb baseball tactician, a master strategist, his manipulation of his players is based on sound, solid reasoning, the percentages, and his precise knowledge of every man in the league, his strength and weaknesses. True, he has a wealth of material to work with, but no one denies he makes the most of it.

His memory is unbelievable. After a game, he can play it back to an audience pitch by pitch. His physical endurance is astounding. In addition, he is (when he wants to be) a master of public relations which, since he is the manager of the New York Yankees, makes him a daily target for an unending parade of characters, some legitimate, others mere gadflies who divert him from the task to which he devotes each waking hour: the winning of ball games.

Finally, Casey is a clown. Not a buffoon, but an authentic clown, a skilled practitioner of an ancient art who can calculate a comic effect as accurately as he can sense a pitcher's fading stuff.

All of these facets of Casey's personality were in evidence as he led his Yankees down the stretch. Time and again, the gadflies tried to swing him off balance. But, through hell, highwater and hullabaloo, Casey held his charted course until at last— near one September midnight in Chicago—even Casey had to admit that he was in.

This is the report of one who went step by step down the stretch with Casey:

Washington

Nobody was worried but Casey. He couldn't wait for the train to get to Washington. He likes to get out to the park early when he's worried. As early as 3 o'clock on the afternoon before a night game.

When the train finally pulled into the Washington station, Casey was the first one off. Stepping from the air conditioned train was like stepping into a steel mill's blast furnace. The sportswriters, following Casey off the train, reeled under the impact of the 98 degree heat. Casey, off at a trot, yelled over his shoulder: "Come on, you guys!" A sportswriter yelled back: "Go on by yourself, skipper! We can't keep up with you!" Casey made a gesture of exasperation and broke into a half run.

A little later in the clubhouse, Casey worked at one of his first chores of the day: writing out the lineup for the opening game of the series with the Senators. As usual, he wrote down Mantle in the No. 3 spot and Berra No. 4. Then he scratched his head and pondered briefly over his abundance of infield talent. He decided to move Martin to third, play McDougald at second, Skowron at first and Hunter at short. With Mantle in Center and Bauer in right, there was only one spot to hesitate over. He put Slaughter in left, hitting in the leadoff position.

Word came that tonight's game would be attended by the President of the United States, and Casey said that was all right, that was fine. Then he called for a piece of adhesive tape and went out to the dugout and taped the lineup on one of the posts. Then Casey took a seat on the bench and talked with the Washington and New York sportswriters. Watching Mickey Mantle take batting practice at the plate, Casey said, "Here's something odd. I was thinking the other night, that guy rarely or never hits a line drive back at the pitcher. Waner used to say he aimed at 'em."

A message arrived saying Mrs. Calvin Griffith, wife of the Washington owner, had a guest sitting with her and would like Casey to meet him. Casey went over and the guest turned out to be Douglass Wallop, author of The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, the book from which the musical Damn Yankees was adapted. It seemed Mr. Wallop was preparing an article about the Yankees, and Casey was glad to oblige with a rapid-fire 10-minute discussion of the Yankees past and present. As he turned away, Wallop sat down heavily and looked at his notebook into which he had put not a single note. A boy of 10 or so called to Casey on his way back to the dugout and held out an autograph book. "Are you lucky, kid?" asked Casey. "I don't know," the boy said. Casey rubbed his knuckles in the boy's crew cut hair, signed his book and went on.

At the dugout, Charley Murdock, an announcer for Radio Station WRVA in Richmond, Virginia was waiting with a tape recorder. "Mr. Stengel," said Murdock, "I'd like to tape an interview with you and Mantle and a couple of other players for a sports show on WRVA. Fifty thousand watts, sir."

"Ask the players," barked Casey, "Don't ask me. I got no time for broadcasting. I'm managing a ball club here."

Murdock backed away and Casey took a seat on the bench.

A fan stuck his head out from a box and peered around and into the dugout.

"Hey Casey!" he yelled, "Where does the World Series open, what city?"

"I don't know," snapped Casey, "We're not in the Series yet."

The fan looked hurt. "I think it's the National League city," said Casey to soothe his feelings.

At the other side of the dugout another head appeared. "Ten bucks," cried the head, "ten bucks, Casey, for an autographed ball!"

Casey ignored him.

"Ladies and gentleman," boomed the public address system, "will you stand with the President of the United States for our National Anthem?"

Casey sprang to the top step of the dugout and stood with is cap over his heart. After it was concluded, he went back to the bench to watch the Yankees win 6 to 4, with Mickey Mantle hitting No. 47 (as the President of the United States had asked him to do) and Jim Lemon (acting very much like Douglass Wallop's devil-bound hero, Joe Hardy) smacking three homers off Casey's pride and joy, his "professional pitcher" Whitey Ford.

It wasn't the kind of victory to cheer Casey Stengel. Next morning he sat sprawled on a sofa, his feet up on a coffee table, in a corner of the enormous lobby of Washington's Hotel Shoreham. He scowled at the sports pages and puffed great clouds of cigarette smoke. After a while he tossed the papers aside, ground out his cigarette and stood up.

A man walked up and said: "You're doing a great job, Casey."

Casey shook his head.

"I don't know," he said. "We could still lose this thing. We could have lost that one last night."

That evening visitors included Walter Winchell, the newspaper columnist. They spoke of the old days and Winchell recalled in detail the false report of some years ago that he (Winchell) had had a heart attack. The discussion ended as a conversational dead heat before Winchell went out on the field to participate in some pre-game didos arranged by the Washington club in honor of a young lady named Margo Lucey who was to leave the next day to represent Washington, D.C., in the Miss America contest at Atlantic City.

Casey paced the dugout as the staggeringly irrelevant proceedings dragged on. The Washington players lined themselves up along the first base line. The master of ceremonies droned on with commercial credits and introductions. Plews, the Senator's second baseman, offered Miss lucey a basket of flowers. "And now," cried the M.C., "presenting the manager of the Washington ball club, Chuck Dressen!"

Out of the Washington dugout hurried Chuck Dressen bearing a cake as big as a bat bag. Presenting it to Miss Lucey, he shouted into the microphones:

"I would not advise you to consume this cake, Miss Washington, as it would ruin your shape!"

In the Yankees dugout, Casey raised his eyes to heaven; and at home plate Miss Lucey said she did, indeed, have to be careful about her shape and so would send the cake to a local hospital.

Washington took that game and the next one, too, and Casey fumed back to New York for a double-header with the Baltimore Orioles. The Yanks swept both ends of that one and sent Casey off to Boston with his spirits vastly improved. But not for long.

Boston

Seated in the dugout with the Boston sportswriters, Casey looked like a man who had promised himself that morning to let nothing upset him this day. The questions put forward by the writers were diplomatic and deferential. It was a cozy interlude until a husky young man named Joe Phelan, representing the United Press, took a stance directly in front of Casey.

"When," said Joe Phelan, "will the Yankees pay Mantle $100,000 a year?"

Casey looked taken aback. But his good humor was not impaired.

"Why," he said pleasantly, "I think you got a right to ask that question, young fella. It just ain't a question to ask me. That's a question to ask Mr. George Weiss."

Phelan eyed him coldly.

"Will the Yanks ever pay Mantle $100,000 if they can avoid it?"

The Boston writers were visibly embarrassed. "Ted Williams," one of them blurted, "didn't get $100,000 right away."

"Now wait," said Casey easily to Phelan, his humor intact. "You ask a question. I say you got a right to ask it, a right to your opinion. Now I say this— this fella is liable to get $100,000 sooner'n you think— this is just my guess now—providing, I say providing he was to do these three things—break the Ruth record and lead in RBIs and batting."

"What," said Joe Phelan, "was the idea of firing Rizzuto on Old Timer's day? There's been a lot of editorial comment about that here in Boston."

Casey swallowed hard.

"You're entitled to your opinion," he said, "but I'll tell you this. I needed an outfielder which when I saw the chance to get Slaughter I took it. It was his first time around on waivers and you don't think I'd have got him the second time around, do you? Also, I got four outfielders hurt, Cerv, Collins, Siebern, and Noren. If anything happens to Mantle, what happens to me then? Also you got to remember Hunter comes through pretty good at short so I don't need Rizzuto. Now wait a minute, wait a minute here."

He jumped up suddenly and pointed to the outfield. "That's Cerv going after that ball out there now. Look at him, runs pretty good, wouldn't you say? That's him, do you see him, way out there against the wall in right? Now Cerv was hurt back in—"

Joe Phelan interrupted.

"Let's get back to Rizzuto," he said. "Do you think it was smart to let him go on Old Timers' Day?"

"Listen," said Casey, sitting down. "You got your opinions. But that was the day we had to make up our minds. Now let me tell you this. I'm just glad Mr. Rizzuto has saved his money and he's getting paid for the whole season. I wouldn't be surprised— it's up to the boys—but there a pretty fair gang—they might not forget him in the Series divvy-up. Also Mr. Rizzuto has some offers to go on the radio and television and maybe (he pointed to Phelan) you could recommend him to Mr. Yawkey and he'd hire him as manager of his ball club."

"Or maybe," said Phelan, "he could get a job as headwaiter at the Kenmore Hotel (where the Yankees stay)—that would be all right, too?"

That did it.

"Fie!" cried Casey approximately.

"Fie on your opinions! We're running this ball club. I'm the manager and were in first place."

He got up and went to the water cooler. Two hours and 42 minutes later, Yogi Berra's home run had led the Yanks to a 5-3 win over the Red Sox, Whitey Ford's 16th victory.

New York

Back at Yankee Stadium, Casey greeted a new parade of dugout visitors including two squads of visitors and a teenage boy escorted by Al Schacht, the old pitcher and baseball comedian. "My boy," said Schacht to his young friend, "this is Mr. Stengel. He has been wearing this baseball uniform (Schacht touched Casey's sleeve) for more than 70 years." Casey (who is 66) grunted. "Hey, Case," said Al, "did you see the finish of the Brooklyn game last night (Brooklyn beat the Giants in extra innings), I mean did you get home in time?"

"I got home in time," growled Casey, "but I didn't feel like watching any more baseball after what happened here last night."

Washington had beat the Yanks 6-5, despite homers by Berra and Bauer.

A television camera was wheeled up and aimed into the dugout for Red Barber's pre-game show. Red himself appeared a few moments later with a brace of bankers in tow. They were Paul Bonynge, a vice-president, and Pat Maloney, an assistant vice-president of Bankers Trust Company. They were to appear with Red in lieu of the usual commercial.

Casey, peering through the bankers' legs, pointed to a Washington player in batting practice. "How did you play this guy in Kansas City?" he asked Enos Slaughter. "A little to the left, Casey," said Slaughter. Casey nodded his approval.

The Yanks took two out of three and headed west to Kansas city for the last time.

St. Louis (en route)

The Missouri River Eagle, crack train of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, was scheduled to leave St. Louis at 8:50 a.m. But at 9:30 nothing had happened and the passengers in the observation car, most of them democratic politicians bound for a meeting at Jefferson City, the state capital, were beginning to grow restive. Among the politicians was Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri, lately a dark horse candidate for the presidency. There was speculation as to what was causing the delay, a wreck along the line, a broken down diesel, a flat wheel, or whatever. Exactly one hour after scheduled departure time, the attendant broke the news: "Folks," he said, "we are waiting for Mr. Casey Stengel and the New York Yankees. They are late coming in on the Penssy." Everyone accepted this information as an entirely satisfactory explanation and there are no further complaints. Senator Symington let it be known that he was glad to wait for Casey because he planned to attend (and he did) the game in Kansas City that night.

When the Yankee cars were at last hooked on (an hour and a half late), the observation car attendant hurried forward and was back in a few minutes with another bulletin: "Folks," he said, "Mr. Casey Stengel is in the dining car right now having his breakfast. He is looking young !"

Kansas City

In the special bus that took the Yankees through the railroad station to Hotel Muehlebach, Casey was bubbling with high spirits. This was his home town. Peering out the window, he pointed out points of interest like a barker: "There's where a man named Sweeney had an auto mobile school, that was right after the first world's war. See that monument? When Will Rogers saw that for the first time, he said, 'Biggest silo I ever seen!'" He fell silent, drinking in the sights. After a moment he cried out: "There! That's where the Sells-Floto circus used to be put on!" He raised up in his seat and searched the blank faces of his young athletes. "Right there, did you see it? It was the Sells-Floto circus grounds in the old days."

Casey dearly loves hotel lobbies and the Muehlebach's is one of his favorites. This afternoon, it was jumping. There were half a dozen sales conventions going on and over the babble of voices, electric saws screamed as workmen remodeled the main desk. Casey plunged into the mob like a swimmer, shook hands with the Katz Drug crowd and the Procter & Gamble people, signed programs for the Ford salesman and answered questions for delegates to a convention of Missouri mayors. There was an air-conditioned suite (the temperature outdoors was 103) waiting for Casey on the 8th floor, but he took his own good time.

That evening, in the clubhouse before the game, Casey walked around in his undershirt, sipping a bottle of Coke. A New York sportswriter came up and told him he wanted to do a feature story on the 44th anniversary of Casey's entrance into major league ball. "Is it 44?" said Casey. "When?" The sportswriter said it was Sept. 17. "that's right," said Casey, "September 17, 1912, I came up to Montgomery, Ala. to the Brooklyn Dodgers." He put his arm around the writer's shoulder. "Come on in the office here," he said, "and I'll tell you all about it."

Later, in the dugout, a merry-faced, gray-haired man popped out of the tunnel from the clubhouse and cried: "Dutch Stengel, you old son of a gun!" Casey looked around and jumped up. "Doc Stoffer!" he exclaimed. "Well what do you know." They shook hands and pounded each other on the back.

"Doc and I," said Casey to the dugout audience, "played together in the old Western League. Doc gave up baseball to practice medicine."

"Practiced medicine," said the doc, "for 24 years. Then I was put out of business, you might say, by the wonder drugs. Anyway, I figured I could do better manufacturing my duck calls."

"Doc used to make 'em by hand," said Casey, "does it by machine now."

"That's correct," said Doc Stoffer. "Five thousand a year."

"Here's something that will interest you, Doc," said Casey, "I got a letter from a savings and loan concern in Kankakee, Ill. They found out when I left Kankakee, the club owed me $67.50 and so I took my uniform with me. Now they figured if I had invested that $67.50 in their loan concern, it would amount to something like $450 today. They say they'll give me that much if I can find the old uniform so they can put it in the window. I'm going out to my sister's house here and see if by any chance she held on to it."

(Next day Casey did go rummaging through his sister's house but couldn't find the uniform.)

The Yankees always have an unsettling effect on Kansas City, especially on the corn-fed maidens of Cowtown who have been known to besiege the athletes with invitations to steak roasts and taffy pulls. Back at the Hotel Muehlebach, Casey concurred in a decision to shut off all incoming phone calls for the Yankee players. The official announcement was that the move was taken to circumvent "ticket moochers and autograph hounds."

At the baseball park the Yanks took two out of three from the A's and raced for the special train at Union Station.

En route to Detroit

It was like a caravan of rich gypsies. The Yankees had their own special train from Kansas City to Detroit and, like a gypsy king, Casey sat at the first table with his coaches, replaying the afternoon, relishing his thick steak. Now and then Casey let his eyes wander up and down the car and take in the spectacle of youth and health over which he presided. It was a world all its own, aloof and proud, roaring over the Missouri landscape with the big diesel wailing to the towns and villages, stopping for nothing, nobody.

After dinner there were card games, but Casey turned in early. Next morning almost everybody complained that they hadn't slept a wink during the rocky ride. Casey emerged from his drawing room and yawned: "Well, that's odd. I was asleep when I hit the pillow, and I didn't budge all night." When the train reached Detroit, he was the first one to reach the waiting cabs. In the dugout at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Casey listened (without comment) to the sportswriter's scuttlebutt about managerial shifts. Dressen, one man said, could have the Washington job if he wanted it again and also had two National League offers. Casey raised his eyebrows. Another man said Harris was through at Detroit but had a front office offer from one of the eastern clubs. "You'll be back skipper," said a New York writer to Casey, "if the price is right?" Casey just grinned.

The Yanks beat the Tigers for Casey, 5 to 1, just as George Weiss, the Yankees general manager, blew into town and announced that he would be a host at a party in Statler's Terrace Room that evening. Helen Traubel, the Metropolitan Opera star, was appearing there.

Casey enjoyed the party. he talked from the moment he sat down at the table in the Terrace Room. He replayed the game, surveyed the league, recalled the old days when he was manager of the Boston Braves. Miss Traubel was in good voice, but so was Casey. As he talked, raising his voice when necessary, she bravely sang several operatic arias, did a skit she once performed with Jimmy Durante and then belted out I Could Have Danced All Night. When she finished, plainly exhausted, Casey was just getting warmed up, asking rhetorical questions like, "Do you know why Duffy Lewis (the former ball player who is now travelling secretary for the Milwaukee Braves) decided to become a travelling secretary? Because he loved to write with green ink and sign checks!"

Cleveland

Casey felt good. Maybe it was because the Yankees had crowded three incredible bonehead plays in the final Detroit game (Carey threw to the wrong base, Mantle held on to a fly ball and let a man score, Berra forgot a runner, who scampered across the plate) and Casey figured all their boners were behind them. Anyway, he plunged into the convention crowd in the lobby of Hotel Cleveland in high good humor, slithering around like Groucho Marx, stopping to join in a debate about umpires, leaning over to tell a startled Bill Dickey, calmly reading a paper book, that he had left his golf bags on the platform. Dickey blurted, "I don't carry any golf bags"—before he caught on. At Casey's heels were a pack of small boys looking for autographs. "Listen, fellas," cried Casey, "give me a chance to get settled here!" They hung on and finally, after loading himself down with newspapers, Casey piled the papers up on the cigar counter and signed every paper and book put before him.

The Yanks could have clinched it the next afternoon before a crowd of nearly 40,000, but they didn't. Back at Hotel Cleveland, the word was passed to the press corps that in lieu of the victory party spoiled by Early Wynn at the stadium, there would be a small reception given by George Weiss in a private dining room on the mezzanine.

The guests assembled: John Drebinger of the Times , Harold Rosenthal of the Herald Tribune , Joe King of the World-Telegram, Ben Epstein of the Mirror, Joe Trimble of the News, Til Ferdenzi of the Journal-American, Jerry Mitchell of the Post, George Burton of the Long Island Press. Mel Allen, Jim Woods, Joe Ripley, Al Werner and Don Wiederecht of the broadcasting team were there and so was Gus Mauch, the trainer; Bob Fischel, the publicity man; Bill McCorry, the travelling secretary and Johnny Johnson of the front office staff.

Casey came in wearing his blue suit and a light gray tie and black and white socks in a diamond pattern. With his entrance, everyone drifted to the chairs and sofas.

There was a final buzz of small talk, as just before the curtain rises, and then the voice of Casey Stengel rang out.

"I wish you would look at those pants," he roared. "I sent them out to be pressed and they came back with eight creases. I got the guy on the phone and said 'Come and get these pants and take the pleats out.' So he sends a boy and says he'll deliver the suit to the ball park."

"I gave the boy who brought them a dollar," said Bill McCorry.

Casey turned and looked back at him. "I'll get that buck back to you," he said. He looked down at his trousers again. "Now look at these pants," he continued, "they still got two creases in them."

"What you should do, Casey," said McCorry, "is have a crease sewed in."

"The best pair of pants I've ever owned," said Casey, "was when I was 13 years old. My mother sewed the crease in them. They always looked nice."

He stared at the rug. Suddenly he jumped to his feet and shook his fist.

"Oh, that big Indian!" he cried.

He was speaking of Early Wynn who had beat the Yanks in the second game and kept them from clinching the pennant then and there.

"Here he is out there," Casey went on, "standing like a statue!"

Casey dropped his arms to his side, put his chin on his chest and stared with lowered eyes.

"Here's my hitter up there."

Casey became the Yankee hitter, lashing the air rhythmically with his imaginary bat.

"Here's the Indian." Casey became a statue again.

"Men on base? He don't care!"

Casey became a craven wretch, his hands trembling. "Is he saying to himself, 'Oh, my manager will be mad at me'?"

Casey spat in scorn. "He don't care! Thirty-five years old, pitching every third day, the big Indian! Here's the pitch! Whssst!"

Casey threw.

"It's a knuckler! Here's my hitter!"

Casey swung mightily, spun around and ended with the imaginary bat high over his head in a furiously continuing spiral.

He dropped his shoulders and slumped over to the sofa and sat down like a disconsolate batter returning to the bench.

"He gets two strikes on a batter," said a sportswriter, "and he throws that knuckler."

Casey jumped to his feet.

"Oh, he's a smart slick Indian son of a gun," he growled.

Casey walked dup and down and then threw up his head and shouted:

"Chief Poo hoo!"

He thrust out a fist and drew back the other arm.

"Oh, I wish I was an Indian! Here's what I'd do! Shoot him with my bow and arrow! Whssst!"

There was a momentary lull.

"I see in the Sporting News," said George Weiss, making party small talk, "where Greenberg (Hank Greenberg, general manager of the Cleveland Indians) wants a new rule to keep the pennant-winning club from making any player deals for a whole year."

"That's so long as it's the Yankees that win the playoffs!" exclaimed Bill McCorry, looking around indignantly.

Casey spoke up from the sofa. "Greenberg," he said matter-of-factly, "applauded once all afternoon."

George Weiss looked at him.

"How do you know?" he said.

"I watched him," said Casey.

"Greenberg was sitting in an upper-deck box," said George Weiss.

"I know," said Casey.

"Well, how could you watch him and the ball game, too?"

"I watch everything," said Casey. "Greenberg applauded once all afternoon. It was in the second game."

He straightened up and clapped his hands delicately as a man might at a performance of the ballet.

"Once," he repeated, "all afternoon."

The talk turned, naturally it seemed at the time, to the subject of midgets, and Casey was on his feet again.

"Midgets are smart," he said, thrusting his thumbs behind his belt, "smart and slick as eels. You know why?"

He looked around.

"It's because," he said, "they're not able to do much with the short fingers."

He held out his fists with the fingers tucked in.

"You understand?" he asked. "not being able to do anything with their fingers, what do they do?"

He tapped his forehead.

"They develop their brain power."

His audience listened respectfully.

"Short people tend to be smarter all along the line," said Casey. "You take bartenders. A short bartender will outperform a tall bartender every time. You know why?"

Again he looked around the room.

"Because," he said, "here's your tall bartender."

Casey stood on his tiptoes and began pouring imaginary drink and then bending low to set them on an imaginary bar.

"You get the idea?" he asked from a bent over position. "You see what's happening here? The tall bartender is bending over all the time. So what happens?"

Casey grimaced as if in pain and put a hand to his back.

"It gets him in the back. He gets a sore back, and he's out of there in a few hours."

He straightened up. "Now then," he said, "here's your short bartender."

He bent his knees.

"The bar hits him at shoulder level. See what I mean?"

Casey shot his arms straight out and back like pistons.

"Whssst! Whssst! Whssst!"

He looked around, his arms moving furiously in demonstration of a short bartender serving drinks.

"You get it?" he cried. "No back strain whatever! He can go all night!"

He went back to the sofa.

"Now those photographers out at the park afterward," he said, "they wanted us jumping up and down like we'd won the pennant. 'What pennant?' I says. 'We haven't won any pennant!' Can you imagine that? They wanted us to fake it! No sir, I am not faking any pictures. Wait'll we win. Why, we might lose the next six straight. That's been done."

It was time for George Weiss to go.

"Well, I hope you clinch second anyway, Casey," he said, waving his hand around the room. "See you all in New York."

Casey waved and said as George Weiss left:

"Sturdivant. He didn't want to come out of there in the first game. 'Casey,' he says, 'I got stuff.' I said you may have stuff, my boy, but they're hitting the stuff. So I called in Byrne. He's the guy to bring in when the other guys are nervous. He's like the Indian. He don't get upset or anything."

How about that Grim," a sportswriter said. Grim had relieved effectively in the second game.

"Now there's a guy," said Casey. "he says his arm hurts. And I put him in three, four, five times—I don't know, look it up—and they never score on him. But still he says he can't pitch. Boy, I told him, they don't score on you. If that ain't pitching, what is it?"

"Maybe there's your fourth starter in the Series, Case," one of the sportswriters suggested.

Casey whirled on him.

"Don't be surprised," he said, wagging a finger. "Don't be surprised."

Casey marched up and down the room.

"That Brooklyn club is smart," he said. "Old but smart. The smartest club in the league, don't anybody forget it. Show a little nervousness out there, and they'll jump all over you. They'll bunt, they'll hit-and-run and they'll steal They're smart, smart—old but smart."

He stopped and looked around.

"I had a hat when I came in," he said.

Bill McCorry went around looking for the hat.

"Casey," said a sportswriter, "I've been wanting to tell you. That blue hat of yours looks fine with your blue suit, but it clashes with your brown suit. You ought to get a brown hat for your brown suit."

Bill McCorry handed Casey the blue hat. Casey looked inside of it, turned it over in his hands and rubbed his sleeves against the brim.

"This is my hat for every suit," he said, "Edna (Mrs. Stengel) bought it for me in Rome last winter."

He looked at his hat and flicked a bit of dust from it.

"I'm sorry I blew that one this afternoon, boys," he said. "We could have had the victory party tonight. Maybe we'll have it Tuesday. I'm playing Pierce (Billy Pierce of the White Sox), but I'll pitch my professional (Whitey Ford)."

Nobody said anything. Casey sauntered over to the door.

"That Brooklyn club is smart," said Casey, "but I ain't afraid of 'em. I ain't afraid of the world."

Casey put on his blue hat, opened the door, waved shortly to the guests and walked out alone.

 More flashbacks:
Casey Stengel | Maris and Mantle | Joe DiMaggio
Thurman Munson | Reggie Jackson | Babe Ruth
Mickey Mantle | Lou Gehrig | Chuck Knoblauch
1998 Yankees | David Wells | El Duque



Back to the top

Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.