What would Casey Stengel be like today as manager of the New York Mets? Would the “Ole Perfessor” have some tricks up his sleeve…
Casey Stengel is in the Baseball Hall of Fame mainly due to the seven World Championships (including five in a row from 1949-1953) he won as manager of the New York Yankees. But at the age of 72, Stengel was brought in to manage the New York Mets for their 1962 inaugural season.
As Mets fans will recall, the team was made up of a ragtag bunch of rejects from teams who were forced to “contribute” to a pool from which the Mets and Houston Colt 45’s (at the time) constructed their rosters.
Stengel’s “Metsies”, as he liked to refer to them, went on to lose 120 games that season, but few fans in New York hardly cared. National League baseball was back and that’s all that mattered.
Former Brooklyn Dodgers Gil Hodges (by then 38), Joe Pignatano, Don Zimmer, Roger Craig (loser of 24 games that season), and Clem Labine were brought in for cameo appearances and to create the illusion of something that wasn’t, but sold tickets nevertheless.
Casey Stengel was a unique character with an equally unique style of managing. He gave the impression of being a no-nothing clown, but deep down he knew baseball inside out. Often, he would engage the press (baseball on television was in its infancy then and there was no internet) in what became known as “Stengelisms” to further camouflage his astuteness as a baseball manager.
So, what would Casey Stengel do and be like if he were the manager of the New York Mets today instead of Mickey Callaway? It might look something like this in his first meeting with the team…
Casey Stengel’s First Team Meeting…
From his rocking chair in the middle of the clubhouse, Stengel begins…
“All right boys, I hope you are tired of losing because I’m sure as hell tired of it. Now, here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna do some running and some bunting. We’re gonna do some pitching too. We’re gonna catch the ball and we’re gonna hit the ball. Everybody hear that?”
“Now Petey (Alonso), you’re my Frank Thomas and your job is to hit the ball as far as you can as often as you can. You’re a big strong kid and you’re gonna get bigger before you know it. Now Jeffie (McNeil), you’re my Richie Ashburn. He went to the Hall of Fame ya know cause he hit line drives all over the place. Don’t change anything you do, you’re in the lineup every day. I can’t tell you where, but you are in there.”
“Juan (Lagares), you’ve gotta do more than catch the ball like a gazelle out there if I’m gonna keep you around here. Now, I want to see you in the cage early every day with whoever is our hitting coach – what’s his name? Doesn’t matter, just be there.”
“As for my starting pitchers, you’re all gonna stop pussy-footing around and each of you is going to give me seven innings minimum every time I send you out there. I don’t care if you throw 130 pitches, I’m not taking you out. That’s your problem. Deal with it.”
“And don’t be looking out to the bullpen to see who’s warming up, because there won’t be anyone. Our bullpen sucks and every one of you guys knows it. And Jake (deGrom), he knows what I’m talking about. Boys, this guy goes out there, pitches his heart out for seven innings, doesn’t want to come out but ownership says I have to take him out because they owe him a gazillion dollars, so I do and then one of you so-called “bullpen artists” in the pen comes in and walks the first three guys he faces, and all deGrom can do is sit there with his ____ in his hand watching”.
“Noah (Syndergaard), you need to get a haircut son, like Jake did and become a man. You’re a thrower on a team where I need pitchers. I watched Whitey Ford get hitters out for years with a 91 fastball, mixed in with a 12 to 6 curveball, man he was something I tell ya. And you can be my Whitey Ford, son. Just listen.”
“As for the rest of you, you’re gonna play and pitch when I say you are. Check the lineup and I don’t want to hear any whining. And I don’t want to hear any complaining about ownership. Those guys don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, but I’ll tell ya, if you ever say I said that, I’ll deny it and your ass will be gone”.
“All right, any questions boys? I didn’t think so. And Rosario, sharpen your spikes, son. You’re gonna be stealing bases for me today…”