During the hubbub a slight, elderly man squeezed around one end of the crowd of reporters and slipped up to Stengel. "Mr. Casey," he said, sticking out his hand, "I've lived, in New York City 79 years, and...." Casey shook the man's hand and grinned, but one reporter said, "Go away, go away! We don't want you here," and another growled, "Beat it, and call him on the telephone." The old man was hustled away.
Stengel finally yielded to pressures from the television men and waded toward their cluttered corner. "What are you gonna ask me here," he asked, "the same questions?" Casey sat on a rose-colored Victorian couch, squinted into the lights and told his first interviewer, "You better let Topping say something too." Then he hunched over the microphone and started talking.
Someone broke in to tell Stengel: "An Associated Press bulletin says you're fired, Case. What do you think about that?"
"What do I care what the A.P. says," he growled. "Their opinion ain't going to send me into any fainting spell. Anyway," he added with a little grin, "what about the U.P.?"
Would Casey name his alltime favorite team? "Well, I'd like to, but I'd be too fast for you—you wouldn't understand me." A couple of hotel maintenance men slid into the circle of cameras and listened with wide-eyed attention. Finally the klieg lights went off, and Casey headed for the bar. "I'm gonna get a drink," he announced. "Where's a drink?"
As he sipped a bourbon and soda, the New York baseball writers crowded sadly and sentimentally around him. Stengel seemed the least concerned of the group. He talked about his pennant winners and about his troubles keeping his "retirement" a secret. "I been hiding out for three days," he said. "I didn't answer the phone at all."
Talk to Dan
Before he had finished his drink, he was called back to the couch for a joint interview with Topping. Only two microphones remained. The floor around them was littered with crumpled press announcements and cocktail napkins. Casey talked over, under and around the questions, and Topping said: "I'm just sorry Casey isn't 50 years old, but all business comes to a point when it's best for the future to make a change."
At 1:45 Stengel was back at the bar. A radio man with a tape recorder approached him. "Another one?" Casey said. "I didn't give you an interview? Sure I will. Come on." After that the remaining newspapermen gathered around, and Casey started telling stories.
First there was Boston and how the wind off the Charles River held up the home run balls and made him look like a bad manager. Then there was Jackie Jensen and what a hell of a football player he had been, and Billy Martin, always a Stengel favorite. "Whatever you say about Martin," said Casey seriously, "remember he could of been much worse outside of baseball." Casey, once again the nonstop raconteur with the adoring audience, looked almost happy.