Wyatt: Casey Stengel was no clown

From Daniel Wyatt at The National Pastime Museum on July 14, 2014:

Most baseball people were shocked when the New York Yankees hired Casey Stengel as their new manager for the 1949 season. Casey was supposed to be a clown.

In a turn at-bat as a Pittsburgh Pirate player 30 years before, Stengel tipped his cap at a booing Brooklyn crowd and out flew a sparrow he had tucked inside. It was Casey’s unique way of giving the fans “the bird.” In his first two Major League managing jobs, he needed a good sense of humor because he didn’t have much to work with. During stints with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Braves from 1934 to 1943, he never finished higher than fifth. “The key to being a good manager,” he told a reporter, “is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided.” Then Stengel won two minor league pennants—with the 1944 Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association, followed by the 1948 Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League.

New York Yankees GM George Weiss, an old friend of Stengel’s when the two first met during the 1920s in the Class A Eastern League, took notice. Weiss—a stern, serious man—didn’t hire clowns. He hired people whom he expected to win. Right off, Stengel did not disappoint. He won five straight World Series in his first five years with the Yankees, a record still untouched today. “The Yankees don’t pay me to win every day,” he told the press, with a grin, “just two out of three.” He also said, “Most games are lost, not won.”

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/casey-was-no-clown

Originally published: July 14, 2014. Last Updated: July 14, 2014.