At 2:25 the hangers-on went into the dining room for lunch. Topping was there and Casey sat down with him, but there was little conversation between them. Casey seemed quieter and even asked a few questions himself. The talk centered around old pals and old times—the Coast League days, John McGraw, George Weiss. When a Yankee official stopped at the table Casey told him: "I'm taking a jet home, and I'm charging it to the club. A man gets his transportation home even if they don't want him any more." He was smiling but not joking.
One for the road
After lunch Stengel got up to leave but a red-faced photographer waved him down for one more drink. "Well, O.K.," Casey said. "Just for five minutes. Then I'll get outta town." He ordered another bourbon, leaned over the table and started in again. His voice was low and a little hoarse now, but the eyes were steady and intent, the hands were alive, the whole repertoire intact.
The talk centered on Casey's latter-day career. He had had several chances to change in recent years, he said, but he had stayed with his Yankees and he had no regrets. He talked about his first Yankees, the 1949 bunch, and about Yogi Berra.
A waitress pushed through a curtain and rushed up to Stengel, arms extended. "This is the only chance I'll ever get," she said. "I got to kiss you." She pecked him on the cheekbone and whispered, "God bless you." Casey said, "Thank you very much," and she hurried back through the curtain.
Finally, Stengel stood up. "I gotta go home to my parents," he said, and headed for the door. The red-faced photographer shook his head. "I'm gonna miss that old bastard," he said.
On the corner of Fifth and 58th Stengel talked with one last reporter. A brisk breeze plucked at his tie and rustled his white hair. A cabbie parked near the corner said, "Hey, that's Casey Stengel, ain't it? I hear they just canned him. Tough, but hell, he don't need the money. He's a millionaire."
The light turned red on Fifth Avenue, and Casey Stengel, millionaire and former manager of the New York Yankees, started across. Halfway there he broke into his stooping, scuttling trot. He hopped onto the curb, paused a moment, then disappeared into the crowd.