Appel: Harry Craft, baseball lifer

From SABR member Marty Appel at The National Pastime Museum on October 21, 2013:

It was probably Sept. 9 or 10 in 1959 when Harry Craft, manager of the Kansas City Athletics, sidled over to Yankees counterpart Casey Stengel during batting practice at Yankee Stadium for a friendly chat. Harry, of course, knew Casey. Everyone knew Casey, and so did everyone seem to know Harry, one of the best-connected, best-liked men in the game.

These were the days when one umpire would sit in the stands during B.P. to make sure there was no fraternization going on. It was strictly enforced, and fines of up to $25 could be imposed if you said hello to an old teammate and made some fans think that something fishy was going on.

What Craft had in mind on this September day with just over two weeks left in the season, was a “tip” for Casey. He said something about, “You guys ought to try and get this Maris fellow — he’s a terrific ballplayer.”

Perhaps it had already occurred to the Yankees, who were regularly relieving Kansas City of all of their good players anyway. But Harry may have known his time as Athletics manager was winding down. It was the nature of the business, the team had been seventh in all three years he had managed them, and it may have been time to clean his personal possessions out of his office.

So he slipped Casey the tip, and a few months later, the Yanks traded for Roger Maris, who promptly won MVP awards in 1960 and 1961 and beat Babe Ruth’s home run record in the process. Good tip.

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Originally published: October 21, 2013. Last Updated: October 21, 2013.