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by Harold Friend
Casey Stengel and the Brooklyn Dodgers got great satisfaction by beating the New York Giants the last two games of the season, thus denying them any chances of repeating as World Champions, but 1934 was an unsuccessful season for Brooklyn. They finished sixth, winning only 71 games.
Lack of Pitching
The offense was good, averaging 4.89 runs a game, which was third best in the league, but Brooklyn's pitching left much to be desired. Brooklyn's 4.48 ERA was better than only than Philadelphia's 4.76. After Van Lingle Mungo, who finished at 18-16 with a 3.37 ERA, there was no one. Veteran Ray Benge was mediocre, Old Tom Zachary was on the way out, young Johnny Babich frightened few hitters, and Dutch Leonard was inconsistent, although he had some promise.
Van Lingle Mungo Hold Out
Brooklyn's prospects for improvement weren't good. In late January, 1935, Van Lingle Mungo told the Dodgers that he would not accept the $12,000 salary they had offered. He threatened to stay out of baseball all season unless Brooklyn made a better offer. "I asked for a little more than they offered," Mungo told reporters from his home in Pageland, South Carolina.
Players Had No Leverage
Players had no leverage before free agency. They played for the team that owned their services or they didn't play. Late in February, just as spring training was about to start, Mungo returned his signed contract. He was the last Dodger to sign, and it marked the first time in years that the entire Brooklyn squad was signed at the beginning of spring training.
Joe Gilleaudeau, the Dodgers' treasurer, emphatically stated that Mungo signed the original contract. "He signed the original contract we sent him. We gave him what we considered a fair raise and that's as far as we went." There were conflicting reports. Some claimed that Mungo signed for $10,000 and had demanded $12,000, while others insisted that he did receive $12,000. No matter what, the team called the shots.
Brooklyn Tears Up Casey Stengel's Contract
A few days before Mungo signed, Brooklyn tore up Casey Stengel's contract and signed him to a new three-year deal. President Steven W. McKeever, with the approval of other Dodgers' officials, said they recognized Stengel's managerial ability and great popularity in Brooklyn. "We want Casey here to stay. I wanted him because he was one of our boys, and still is, and because I think he is a great manager."
Build a Contender
Stengel's job was to build the team into a pennant contender, and although Brooklyn made only minor player moves as spring training approached, Stengel hoped to make some significant player moves before the June 15 trading deadline. "It sort of looks as if I've got to deliver the goods now," Casey grinned at reporters.
Two Young Left-Handers
In the hotel the team was staying at for spring training, Casey held court with the baseball writers. He told them that the team had great interest in two young southpaws who had done extremely well in the minors.
Frank Lamanske was only 5'9' and 165 pounds, but he had the best record in organized minor league baseball in 1934 with Davenport of the Western League. He was 24-7, with 17 of the wins coming in a row. Lemanske also had 216 strikeouts. Bob Logan was not much bigger than Lemanske. The rookie hopeful had won 20 games for Indianapolis and was a excellent fielder.
Lemanske and Logan Impress
In the first workout of the spring, Lemanske and Logan impressed. He had a great fast ball despite not cutting loose so early, He had excellent form, and some baseball writers compared his seemingly effortless delivery to that of King Carl Hubbell. Logan also demonstrated an excellent fast ball.
Things were looking good for Casey and his Dodgers, but at spring training in late February, the same can be said about any manager and his team. A lot would happen before the season started.
MUNGO REJECTS DODGERS' OFFER :Star Says He Will Stay Out of Game This Year Unless He Receives More Pay. SALARY PUT AT $12,000. (1935, January 26). New York Times (1857-Current file),21. Retrieved July 20, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 93444886).
By ROSCOE McGOWEN.Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.By ROSCOE McGOWEN.. (1935, February 24). MUNGO OF DODGERS ACCEPTS CONTRACT :Entire Team Is Signed as Manager Stengel Greets Vanguard at Orlando. MUNGO OF DODGERS ACCEPTS CONTRACT. New York Times (1857-Current file),S1. Retrieved July 20, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 93455164).
By ROSCOE McGOWEN.. (1935, February 15). Brooklyn Rewards Stengel With a Contract to Lead Club for Three Years :STENGEL IS SIGNED FOR 3 MORE YEARS Dodgers Discard Old Contract and Give New One to Manager With Salary Rise. PAY WILL BE OVER $12,000, New York Times (1857-Current file),25. Retrieved July 20, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 93771072).
By ROSCOE McGOWEN., & Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. (1935, February 25). Lamanske Leading Rookie Pitcher in Camp As Dodgers Prepare to Open Drills Today. New York Times (1857-Current file),22. Retrieved July 20, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 93456116).