There have been many inside baseball with a gift for gab; however, in my book no one ever beat Charles Dillon Stengel for his way with words. I was early on in my writing career going around interviewing for one of my baseball books with a letter from a publisher asking that “all professional courtesies be extended to Dr. Harvey Frommer.”
Luckily and unplanned, I came across old Case sitting (or sleeping) in the dugout. I introduced myself. He was taken by the “Dr.” in the letter.
“I’ve got a pain in my ass, doc,” he said.
I am not that kind of doctor,” I replied. “I am a professor.”
The “ol’ perfessor,” (he once taught) and the new one hit it off. He gave me time and memories and shooed away his regulars press guys for a bit:
“Can’t you guys see, I am doing an interview with the Dr?”
From that long ago time, I have always had a fascination with the man of many words. What fellows is just a brief batch of his bon mots and also what others said about him.
“Don’t cut my throat, I may want to do that later myself.”
“Anyone comes looking for me, tell ’em I’m being embalmed.”
“Good pitching will always stop good hitting and vice-versa.”
“I came in here and a fella asked me to have a drink. I said I don’t drink. Then another fella said hear you and Joe DiMaggio aren’t speaking and I said I’ll take that drink.”
“I couldna done it without my players.”
“I don’t like them fellas who drive in two runs and let in three.”
“I got players with bad watches – they can’t tell midnight from noon.”
“Kid (Phil Rizzuto) you’re too small. You ought to go out and shine shoes.”
“Look at him (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.”
“There comes a time in every man’s life, and I’ve had plenty of them.”
“The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.”
“The Yankees don’t pay me to win every day, just two out of three.”
“They’re been a lot of fast men but none as big and strong as (Mickey) Mantle. He’s gonna be around a long time, if he can stay well, that fella of mine.”
“Son, we’d like to keep you around this season, but we’re trying to win the pennant.” — to a Yankee rookie
“Some of you fellers are getting ‘Whiskey Slick.'”
“These old timer’s games, they’re like airplane landings, if you can walk away from them, they’re successful.”
“About the autograph business – once somebody sent up a picture to me and I write: ‘Do good in school.’ I look up to see who was gettin’ the picture. This guy is 78 years old.”
“What I learned from McGraw, (whom he played for in the 1920s) I used with all of them. They are still using a round ball, a round bat and nine guys on a side.”
“The best thing to do is to have players who can hit right-handed and left-handed and hit farther one way and farther sometimes the other way and run like the wind.”
“They told me my services were no longer desired because they wanted to put in a youth program as an advance way of keeping the club going. I’ll never make the mistake of being seventy again.”
ABOUT CASEY STENGEL
“There were things that would irritate Casey, but trying too hard or getting mad at sitting on the bench weren’t among them.” – Mickey Mantle
“Watch the old man. Watch how the old man keeps the guys who aren’t playing happy.” (Billy Martin to Mantle on Casey Stengel)
“After a play in the field Casey would turn (to the players on the bench) and say ‘What did he do wrong?’ or ‘You’re better than that guy.’ Either way, he’d keep them from getting stale.” – Billy Martin
IN THE WORKS FOR FALL 2015:
Written by acclaimed sports author and oral historian Harvey Frommer, with an intro by pro football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford, When It Was Just a Game tells the fascinating story of the ground-breaking AFL–NFL World Championship Football game played on January 15, 1967: Packers vs. Chiefs. Filled with new insights, containing commentary from the unpublished memoir of Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram, featuring oral history from many who were at the game—media, players, coaches, fans—the book is mainly in the words of those who lived it and saw it go on to become the Super Bowl, the greatest sports attraction the world has ever known. Archival photographs and drawings help bring the event to life.
Dr. Harvey Frommer is in his 39th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: best-selling “New York City Baseball, 1947-1957″ and best-selling “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,” his acclaimed Remembering Yankee Stadium was published in 2008 and best-selling Remembering Fenway Park was published to acclaim in 2011.