For those Yankee lovers
and Yankee haters and all those in between who have
responded to my first two pieces on Charles Dillon Stengel,
for you to enjoy and write to me about is another in the
Sparing no one including
himself, Casey Stengel was equally at ease using the back of
his hand or the glad hand. Not unduly concerned about
hurting a player's (or anyone else’s feelings) by a
sarcastic or sharp criticism even in front of others,
Stengel picked his times.
When the club was
losing, he was muted. He even praised players when they were
not doing well. When the Yankees were winning, he became
almost intolerably edgy, riding his players, trying to
prevent a let-down.
“They know when they're losin' and feel bad
enough. But they'd better not fall asleep on me when they
think everything is going la-de-dah,” he’d say
hardest on the top talent like
Mickey Mantle. Tolerance was reserved for those with lesser ability.
He did not hesitate to replace these players as soon as he could. But he
also would not denigrate them when they were on the scene, not much.
“Look at him,” Stengel said of Bobby
Richardson. “He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he doesn't chew, he
doesn't stay out late, and he still can't hit .250. They say some of my
stars drink whiskey, but I have found that ones who drink milkshakes
don't win many ball games.”
One time, he went to the mound to
remove a pitcher.
"I'm not tired," said the annoyed
"I'm tired of you," Stengel
He sat down next to Bob Cerv in the
Yankee dugout: "Nobody knows this, but one of us has just been traded to
Charley Murdock, an announcer for
Radio Station WRVA in Richmond, Virginia came in with a tape recorder.
"Mr. Stengel, "I'd like to tape an interview with you and Mantle and a
couple of other players for a sports show. Fifty thousand watts, sir."
"Ask the players," barked Casey,
"Don't ask me. I got no time for broadcasting. I'm managing a ball club
A Boston writer asked him: "What was
the idea of firing Rizzuto on Old Timer's day? There's been a lot of
editorial comment about that here in Boston."
Stengel gave him the full response
treatment. “You're entitled to your opinion, But I'll tell you this. I
needed an outfielder which when I saw the chance to get Slaughter I took
it. It was his first time around on waivers and you don't think I'd have
got him the second time around, do you? Also, I got four outfielders
hurt, Cerv, Collins, Siebern, and Noren. If anything happens to Mantle,
what happens to me then? Also you got to remember Hunter comes through
pretty good at short so I don't need Rizzuto. Now wait a minute, wait a
The legendary Roger
Kahn covered the Yankees for a time and got a close look at Casey in
action. “We flew back from Milwaukee after the Braves had taken games
four and five of the 1957 World Series,” the noted author said. ” I was
with Stengel at the Stadium and a guy from WPIX-TV put a microphone in
his face and asked: ‘Did your guys choke up out there?’
“And Stengel said:
‘Do you choke up on that fucking microphone?’
“And then he turned
around, dropped his pants, scratched his buttocks and kept talking.
Later Stengel explained to me: ‘We've gotta put a stop to them terrible
questions. When I said ‘Fuck' I ruined his audio and when I scratched my
ass I ruined his video."
Players had mixed feelings about
Stengel. Clubhouse meetings could last an hour or more with Casey
motor-mouthing it non-stop.
“He confused a lot of players,”
Rizzuto said. “He had two tempers, one for the public and writers, and
one for the players under him. The players were frequently dressed down
in the dugout and clubhouse. He could charm the shoes off you, if he
wanted to, but he could also be rough.”