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"What are you trying to do, steal my fans?" Throneberry complained.
It is a long summer, but the man who is probably finding it longest is Weiss. He is a pale-eyed, bulky, conservative old baseball business man who, as he was saying a couple of weeks ago, is not used to losing.
"I've been in baseball since 1919," George said, "and this is only the second time I have had a second-division team. My first year in baseball I had the New Haven club and we finished seventh. That was in the Eastern League. This year is, I must say, a bit of an experience with me. No, it is certainly not a funny thing to me. But you could say I am not doing things halfway. When I finally get in the second division, I really get there.
"The job this year was simply to get a club started. Why, we couldn't even hire office personnel at first because we didn't have an office. Now we have what I think is the finest office in the majors. Of course we don't want to confine ourselves to leading the league in office space. The future depends on how hard we work now. The main thing is to build up our scouting staff. We had great scouts with the Yankees. Kritchell, Devine, Greenwade. We have Wid Matthews now, but we have to wait until contract time and some of the other good scouts become dissatisfied with their organizations. Then we can make moves. But right now all we can do is hope the players come along and it gets a little better. Anyway the manager is doing a fine job, isn't he?"
The manager certainly is. This is, everybody agrees, Casey Stengel's finest year. When he was running the Yankees and winning 10 pennants and becoming a legend, Casey never really struck you as the one they wrote of in the newspapers. His doubletalk was pleasant, but it had a bit of show business lacquer to it. And he could be rough on young players. Norman Siebern, at one time a tremendous outfield prospect, never really got over a couple of tongue-lashings from Casey. And Bobby Richardson and Clete Boyer were not the most relaxed players in the world under Stengel.
But here with the Mets, at age 73, Stengel is everything you ever read or heard about him. The man has compassion, humor and, above all, class. There is no grousing, and no screaming that players are letting him down. Mr. Stengel came to baseball this year ready to stand up no matter how rough it became. Well, it has become awful rough and he is standing up as nobody ever has. And trying. He talks to the players and he makes all the moves he knows. When they do not work out, he simply takes off his cap, wipes his forehead, then jams it back over his eyes and takes it from there.
The old Stengel magic
In the rare instances when he does have the material to work with in a situation, that old, amazing Stengel magic is still there. Two weeks ago in St. Louis, the Mets won two of a five-game series against the Cards and one of the games was a result of Stengel's moves.
Curt Simmons, a left-hander, was pitching for the Cards, and Stengel sent up Gene Woodling, a left-handed hitter, to pinch-hit. Normally, this is not protocol. But Simmons had been coming in with a screwball as his best pitch. In a left-against-left situation, a screwball breaks toward the hitter and is easy to follow. Simmons had to go with a fast ball. Woodling hit it on top of the roof in right and the Mets had two runs and a ball game.