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Article:When Casey Managed the Dodgers

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by Harold Friend

Near the end of February, 1934, the Brooklyn Dodgers summoned coach Casey Stengel to New York. The next day, general manager Bob Quinn told Max Carey that he no longer was needed to manage the Dodgers. Casey Stengel was named Brooklyn's new skipper. It was believed that Stengel, who was given a two year contract, would be paid at least $12,000 a season.

Casey Stengel Was Serious

Casey Stengel enjoyed a joke, but he assured Brooklyn's fans that he was taking his new job seriously. "Every one of the gentlemen directing this club wanted me to be manager. Darned if I don't think I know a few things about baseball and I think I can teach baseball."

Casey Stengel Let Umpires Know How He Felt

When Stengel coached for Brooklyn, he didn't hesitate to let an umpire know how felt. The great Bill Klem made a call that went against the Dodgers in a game at Ebbets Field against New York. Casey ran next to Klem, pulled off his uniform shirt, and pushed in Klem's face as he shouted, "Here, wear this shirt for a while. You've been wearing a Giants' uniform all season."

National League president John Heydler fined Stengel, but there was no suspension. Imagine what would happen today if a player expressed the opinion that he had been wearing the opposition's uniform.

The Bird Incident

When Casey played for the Pirates, the famous bird incident occurred at Ebbets Field. As the fans booed him, Casey calmly waved to the crowd, removed his cap, and released a little sparrow that was under the cap. The crowd went wild, and the legend of Casey Stengel was established forever.

Left-Handed Against Right-Handed

When Casey took over the Dodgers, it didn't take long for him to do the unusual. Knowing that Brooklyn would be facing many left-handers in the exhibition season, Stengel broke the Dodgers into one team composed entirely of left-handed hitters, and the other team into almost all right-handed hitters. In the intra-squad game, the left-handed hitters faced two left-handed pitchers, while the righty hitters faced right-handers.

Not surprisingly, the right handed hitters scored eight runs batting against righties, but the lefties scored only one run on four hits against the south paws.

Why Casey Stengel Platooned Players

Playing for the Giants under John McGraw, Stengel learned about platooning hitters. Years later, when he managed the Yankees to five consecutive World Championships, he platooned whenever possible. Today, curve ball pitchers are rare, but when Stengel played and managed, there was no slider and most pitchers relied on the fast ball, curve, and change-up. Having a curve ball move toward the batter gave him an advantage. Since there were many more right-handed pitchers, right-handed hitters saw curves from right handers much more than left-handed batters saw curves from left-handers.

New York's Managers' Predictions

Brooklyn did well in the exhibition games and before the regular season opened, each manager of New York's teams gave his analysis of the upcoming season. Joe McCarthy, who's Yankees finished second, seven games behind Washington in 1933, emphasized the risks involved in making predictions, but said that his club had improved its defense, which should help his pitching staff.

Bill Terry, the manager of the defending World Champion Giants, noted that his team had done poorly in the exhibition games, but emphasized that the purpose of spring training was to get in shape, not win games. He predicted that the Giants would repeat as National League pennant winners.

Casey, who was taking over a Brooklyn team that was coming off a sixth place finish, twenty-six and one-half games behind Terry's Giants, wouldn't predict a pennant but said "...the Dodgers will be in there making trouble. All my boys will be giving it the best that they've got."


By ROSCOE McGOWEN.. (1934, February 24). STENGEL IS SIGNED AS DODGERS' PILOT :Successor to Carey Receives a Two-Year Contract. New York Times (1857-Current file),9. Retrieved July 5, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005). (Document ID: 95475413).

Reg. U.S. Pat. off., & By JOHN KIERAN.. (1934, February 27). Sports of the Times :Casey on the Spot.. New York Times (1857-Current file),24. Retrieved July 5, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005). (Document ID: 94496806).

By ROSCOE McGOWEN.Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. (1934, March 16). RIGHTHANDERS WIN DODGERS' GAME, 8-1 :Outscore the Left-Handers as Stengel Stages Innovation in Training Camp. . New York Times (1857-Current file),30. Retrieved July 5, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005). (Document ID: 95037830).

Terry Sees Cubs, Pirates, Cards as Rivals; M'Carthy Optimistic; Stengel Lauds Team. (1934, April 15). New York Times (1857-Current file),S5. Retrieved July 5, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005). (Document ID: 93760506).

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