YOU COULD LOOK IT UP: The Life of Casey Stengel by Maury Allen
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YOU COULD LOOK IT UP: The Life of Casey Stengel

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Outside of baseball,"" said Edna Stengel, ""Casey loved dancing most."" And there's more of the party-loving, hard-drinking, vain, sometimes arrogant Casey here than in earlier, baseball-accented bios. ""Casey Stengel had learned to drink bourbon in Shelbyville, Kentucky, in 1910,"" Maury Allen writes appreciatively, ""He was still brushing up on his skills in 1956 in St. Petersburg, Florida."" Right along, Casey was dogged by charges of being a clown and then, for 20 years, taxed with being too old. But Stengel was serious about baseball and he had the answers, even in later years, for his critics: viz., ""Some people my age are dead at the present time."" The clowning and the verbal tidal wave known as Stengelese were only a means of putting the spotlight where Casey wanted it, whether as a Dodger in 1912 or as a Met 50 years later. Every time the Mets lost, he'd go into his act; but when they won, he'd retire and let the players hold forth. He also learned, from mentor John McGraw, when to criticize players--on winning days only: ""If you bawl them out while they're losing, they may punch you in the nose."" Allen describes the odd father-son relationship between McGraw and Stengel, and goes on to tell how, three decades later, the ""aged and crusty"" Stengel cottoned to ""an aggressive, hard-driving, pugnacious character. . . named Billy Martin."" All the classic Stengel anecdotes are in evidence (the bird under his cap, mock faints on the baselines, staying up all night with ""Old Grandad"") as well as some good new yarns--like Stengel offering the inept Mets $50 to get hit by a pitch with the bases loaded (Ron Hunt still has his check). He used to back up his phenomenal memory with ""You could look it up."" And, once again, you should.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1979
Publisher: Times Books