Random Thoughts

Mr. Stengel goes to Washington – Part 1


August 23, 2019

Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel, who lived from 1890 to 1975, was – to say the least – a colorful character. He is remembered primarily for being the manager of two New York major league baseball teams: the Yankees and the Mets.

Stengel managed the Yankees from 1949 to 1960, leading the organization to seven World Series titles. Stengel and several of his players eventually were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Critics argued that Stengel won with the Yankees only because his players were so good. They pointed to the fact that he had had losing records managing two other major league teams: the Brooklyn Dodgers (1934 to 1936) and the Boston Braves (1938 to 1943).

Moreover, during Stengel’s last managing job, with the New York Mets during their first four years of existence, his squads had dismal won-loss records, finishing in last place each year.

Regardless of his managing ability, Stengel was also known for being extremely witty. Sometimes he would give long, rambling nonsensical answers to questions from reporters and others. His unique way of talking constantly without saying anything meaningful became known in baseball circles as “Stengelese.”

One short example of Stengelese is the time he instructed his players to “line up alphabetically according to height.”

When discussing tension between himself and star player Joe DiMaggio, Stengel said: “So what if he doesn’t talk to me … DiMaggio doesn’t get paid to talk to me and I don’t either.”

Stengel could be funny without giving answers that made no sense. Once after going to the hospital for an examination, Stengel explained: “I’ll tell you something. They examined all of my organs. Some of them are quite remarkable, and others are not so good. A lot of museums are bidding for them.”

Well, in 1958 the United States Senate invited Stengel to come to Washington and testify about the impact a proposed anti-trust law would have on major league baseball.

Stengel gave the senators some fine examples of Stengelese—as we will see in future installments of this article.


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