Saturday, July 30, 2016

Echoes From The Old Ball Game

For a kid born in the 1940's and growing up in Lefty Grove's Georges Creek Valley in Maryland, playing baseball was supposed to be a natural. In fact it was so natural it's a strong tradition to this day. It didn't work out that way for me. Rotten vision and "Coke bottle" glasses rendered me useless on a baseball diamond, so I didn't play organized ball with my pals. On the other hand, I followed the sport just as fiercely, collecting my hundreds of baseball cards, listening to - later watching - the Washington Senators and the Baltimore Orioles, and arguing about those Yankees, love 'em or hate 'em.

Ah, the Yankees. Love or hate for them really doesn't matter today. It's simply a great day in baseball history for a beloved man of the game who happened to do well - very well - with the team. His name was Casey Stengel, born on July 30, 1890, in Kansas City. Stengel took over as manager of the Yankees 1949 and won the World Series championship. They won again in 1950. And 1951, 1952, and 1953. It's a record of consecutive wins that still stands. Stengel went on to win two more championships with them in 1956 and 1958.

File:Casey Stengel 1949.png
The "Old Perfesser" in 1949

You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, 'Can't anybody here play this game?' There comes a time in every man's life and I've had plenty of them.

In 1960 he retired from the game only to return two years later as manager of the "Lovable Losers", the New York Mets. Fans loved them and their coach who captivated the press and broadcast media with his quips and comments delivered in his famous "Stengelese" style, nurtured over his rich career.

To learn more about Casey Stengel, visit his Baseball Hall of Fame page here. The page links to some good multimedia features as well. Link to Wikipedia's extensive biography here. The Official Casey Stengel Site has a great list of quotes here.

If you want to honor the man go to a baseball game this weekend. If that can't happen gather the family, especially the grandfathers, fathers and sons, and watch Field of Dreams (1989). Chances are, Casey will enter the conversation.


Photos and Illustrations:
public domain photo, New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel in a 1949 issue of Baseball Digest.


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