Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Mighty Casey Bows Out

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TRIVIA QUESTION:  How many teams did Casey Stengel play for?  

Pitcher Mike McCormick hit seven home runs during his major league career, including two in 1966 when playing for the Washington Senators. His average was just .156 for a career.

 Saturday July 24, 1965 was a the start of a rather strange weekend in the world. For the first time American pilots fought off Surface to Air Missiles in Viet Nam, an Archbishop was named president of Turkey and Sunday Bob Dylan would shock the music world by going "electric" at the Newport Folk Festival. It was also when Casey Stengel managed his last game. He broke a hip, which basically ended the 74 year old manager's life in baseball.

In New York it was the end of an era, sadly for baseball fans all over. It was The Old Professor's last time as manager of the Mets. He gave way to his hand picked replacement; Wes Westrum. The Mighty Casey had ushered out some of the greatest teams of all time in the 1950's and 1960 Yankees, crossed town and ushered in the worst team in baseball history, the hapless New York Mets.

For Stengel it was another year of Mets frustration. From July 7th to July 20th, the Mets lost 10 straight games. They were 29-63 and mired in their traditional last place in the National League. Then something happened. They faced Pittsburgh and Al Jackson outdueled Don Cardwell pitching a two-hit shutout to beat the Bucs 1-0. The following day they beat the Phillies 3-2 with Jack Fischer going the distance, winning in 10 innings when John Stephenson singled to drive home Ed Kranepool with the game winner.

Could the Amazin's be turning it around? Nope. Jim Bunning two hit them and Casey was forced to retire a month earlier than planned due to the hip. Under Westrum's guidance the Mets responded with an 8-1 win over Philadelphia but the euphoria was short lived. The Mets lost the next four and 16 of 18 (including the teams longest losing streak of 11 in a row that season) on their way to a 51-111 finish. Again mired in last place. 

Over 25 years as a manager, Stengel won 1905 games and lost 1842, including 404 with the Mets. He won 10 pennants and seven World Series. Aside from the Yankees and the Mets he managed the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Boston Bees and the Boston Braves. He broke into the big leagues in 1912 as an outfielder with the Dodgers and batted .316, would bat .368 in 1922 for the Giants and finished his career with a respectable lifetime BA of .284. He was a player for 14 seasons. 

Stengel, the Hall of Famer, died in 1975 at age 85. He will forever be remembered as the Pride of New York, whether he argued with an umpire or sat frustrated in the dugout, losing 120 games with the 1962 Mets or for "Stengelese." Say WHAT?! 

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