Baseball's Top Managers and How They Got That Way
by Leonard Koppett
Buy it from Amazon from Barnes & Noble
« 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 »
In all these matters intuitive and split-second decisions would make you go against the book sometimes. One of the worst effects of book managing, he felt, was that it protected you against the second-guessers on your own bench and in your front office, as well as in the stands. If you made the book move and it didn't work, who could blame you? It was simply a failure of execution. But if you did something unorthodox that did work, you'd be called lucky; and if it didn't, you'd be blamed. Since being blamed led to being fired, there was constant pressure to make "safe" decisions. You'd win often enough in the normal course of things operating that way; but if you wanted to win a lot or (to be honest) every time, you'd have to risk brilliance backfiring and the consequences of carping criticism.
So to do your best as a manager meant never worrying about keeping your job. McGraw had that going for him by the power of his position; Mack had it as part owner; Rickey didn't have it, and wound up in the front office. Huggins and McCarthy had it through their relationship to Barrow.
And Stengel, if he ever got another chance, knew he'd have it because he had enough outside income at his age not to need the job for financial reasons. He needed the job, desperately, to be himself.
In 1944, therefore, the full-fledged persona of Casey Stengel, manager, was complete and in place. And sitting in Glendale.
And again, outside forces were at work.
Bill Veeck, Jr., and Charley Grimm had invested in the Milwaukee club of the American Association, with Grimm as its manager. Jolly Cholly had managed the Cubs in the 1932 and 1935 World Series, and through the first half of the 1938 pennant-winning year, so his credentials were real. Now the Cubs wanted him back again when they started 1-9 under Jimmie Wilson in April of 1944.
Grimm had a problem. Veeck was off in the Pacific, in the Marines. To simply abandon Milwaukee, which had won the pennant in 1943 and was in love with Grimm's Teutonic gemütlichkeit and cheerful zaniness (Cholly was a pretty good clown himself, and as gregarious as Stengel), would threaten their investment. To go back to the Cubs, he needed someone special to take over Milwaukee.
He called Casey.
Do a friend a favor and get back into action? Sure. Who was doing the favor for whom?
On May 7, Casey took over the Brewers. He brought them home first again. Grimm, the next season, got the Cubs into the World Series.
But Veeck, when he heard about the change, was furious. He knew Stengel only by reputation -- as a clown -- and had no use for him. Word of his attitude surfaced. Years later, Veeck and Stengel turned into a mutual admiration society, but at the time Stengel was stung by the young man's opinion. He resigned at the end of the season without waiting for any friction to become a public issue.
Excerpted and reproduced from The Man In The Dugout, Expanded Edition: Baseball's Top Managers & How They Got That Way by Leonard Koppett, by permission of Temple University Press.
Copyright © 2000 by Temple University. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be printed, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from Temple University Press.