PRO BASEBALL PLAYER AND MANAGER
“200-million Americans, and there ain’t two good catchers among ’em.”
Casey Stengel is one of the most famous baseball players and managers in history, hailing from the city where he got his nickname, K.C. By winning five straight pennants in his first five years with the New York Yankees, the Kansas City athlete set the standard by which all other managers will forever be measured. He was immortalized in 1966 when he was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
THE EARLY YEARS
Charles Dillon Stengel was born on July 30, 1890, and grew up in Kansas City. He was a standout athlete at Central High School, where he excelled in basketball, football, and baseball. After high school, he attended the Western Dental College, which is now known as the University of Missouri–Kansas City. Money was tight for Casey in the early 1900s, so he played baseball on a semi-pro team to pay for college. His ability on the field began to take precedence over
his studies, so college soon took a backseat to baseball. He later told the story that he dropped out of dental school because all the medical equipment was designed for right-handers and he was left-handed. Being left-handed didn’t work
for being a doctor, but it did work for the diamond!
RISE TO FAME
When Charles (now nicknamed Casey in honor of his hometown) was twenty, he signed with a minor league team in Kankakee, Illinois, for about twenty dollars a week. He played in several minor league cities where the team rode in rickety buses through backwoods towns. It was a difficult way to make a meager living, but he was living out a dream. He only played in the minors for a short time before he got a call from the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1912.
SHOW ME SUCCESS
Casey Stengel had relative success in the majors, but he was far from a superstar. He played with the Dodgers for five years before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1918, the Philadelphia Phillies in 1920, the New York Giants in 1921,
and the Boston Braves in 1924. Even though he was known as an average player, he did have some fantastic World Series performances. The 1923 series was the pinnacle of his playing career. He hit two game-winning home runs in two separate games against Babe Ruth and the Yankees.
Stengel made the transition into the managerial ranks only one year after finishing up his last season in Boston. He again spent time in the minors before he got a call from the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1934. Much like his playing career, he had little success in the early years as a manager, but he rose to great success in 1949 when the Bronx Bombers came calling.
Casey’s first five years as skipper of the Yankees are still a part of baseball legend. He won ten pennants in his first twelve years as manager, including five in his first five years with New York. He helped guide the Yankees into becoming the most beloved, and most hated, team in professional sports because of their amazing success. He stayed with the Yankees for twelve years and then completed his managerial career with the newly formed New York Mets from 1963 to 1965.
One year after he left baseball, he was back in the spotlight by his selection into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
*The Brooklyn Dodgers paid three hundred dollars for Casey to play for them.
*Casey’s hit in Game 1 of the 1923 World Series was an inside the park home run.
*His No. 37 uniform was retired by both the Yankees and the Mets.