Casey Stengal: Biography
Summary of the life and baseball career of Casey Stengal.
Charles Dillon Stengal was born in Kansas City, Missouri on July 30, 1890. His baseball career began in 1910 as an outfielder for several minor league teams. Stengal joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1912 and shortly after that adopted the name Casey after his hometown of K.C., back in Missouri. Over 14 seasons, Stengal played with the Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Giants, and finally the Boston Braves. He retired with a lifetime batting average of .284. His most noted play came in the 1923 World Series with the New York Giants battling the New York Yankees. In that series, Stengal hit two game-winning home runs and one of them never left the ballpark.
Stengal bought part of the Worcester, Massachusetts team of the Eastern League in 1925. He was immediately installed as president, general manager and player-manager. During this time he became friends with George Weiss. When a better offer came from Toledo in the American Association, Stengal released himself as a player and fired himself as the manager. He also sold his interest in the club and resigned as president and general manager. Stengal managed Toledo for 6 years from 1926 to 1931. While there he won the American Association pennant in 1927.
In 1934, Stengal returned to Brooklyn as a coach and two years later he was named manager for the Dodgers. From 1938 to 1943, Stengal managed the Boston Braves and in 1944 he managed the Milwaukee team in the American Association. He won the pennant there but quit fearing that owner Bill Veeck would fire him upon his return from the military. His old friend George Weiss hired him next to manage the New York Yankees farm team in Kansas City. From there Stengal went to Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League. In 1948, his third season there, Oakland won 114 games and the pennant. That year "The Sporting News" named Stengal the Minor League Manager of the Year.
George Weiss again recruited Stengal but this time it was to manage the New York Yankees. Stengal quieted his critics by leading an injury-prone Yankees team to a surprise World Series Championship in 1949. He followed up this success with American League pennants and World Series Championships again in 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953. In 1953, "Sport" magazine named him "Man of the Year" after he managed the only team to ever win 5 consecutive World Series Championships. Despite the Yankees 103 wins in 1954, the Cleveland Indians outplayed them that year and their 5-year reign was over. From 1955 to 1958 the Yankees again won 4 consecutive American League pennants and World Series Championships in 1956 and 1958.
The Yankees finished third in 1959 and it was apparent the Stengal at age 69 was no longer as effective as a manager as he once was. In 1960, Stengal steered the Yankees to yet another American League pennant before just missing another World Series victory in favor of the Pittsburgh Pirates in a seven game series. The Yankee ownership decided to release Stengal at the end of the 1960 season. Stengal had been paid $90,000 which was the highest salary ever paid to a manager to that point in time. It may have been the Yankees only and best option but it was handled with a great deal of insensitivity, which was reflected in the opinions of the press and public.
Stengal was snapped up to manage the National League's New York Mets when they came into existence in 1962. He managed them for four years until he sustained a hip injury in 1965 that forced him into retirement.
During his career, Stengal amassed 10 pennants in 12 seasons with the Yankees and 7 World Series Championships. He had an unbelievable 37 win in World Series play. He received Major League Manager of the Year awards from "Sporting News" in 1949, 1953, and 1958. He received the New York Baseball Writers' "William J. Slocum Award" in 1950, the Ben Epstein "Good Guy" Award in 1960 and the Casey Stengal "You Could Look It Up" Award in 1970. His uniform Number 37 was appropriately retired by the Yankees and the Mets in 1966 and in 1969 he was selected as the "Greatest Living Manager." Stengal also joined baseball's elite in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966 as well. Stengal died in Glendale, California on September 29, 1975 and is buried there at Forest Lawn.