Since Stengel managed the Yankees over a half century ago, it would be helpful to younger fans to compare his achievements as New York’s skipper to the much more recent tenure of Joe Torre. Casey and Torre each managed the Yankees for a dozen seasons. Both men had losing records managing other teams. Stengel’s Yankee teams won 1,149 ball games and Torre’s squads won 1,173. Stengel, managing during the era of 154-game seasons, achieved a winning percentage with New York of .623 compared to Torre’s .605. Stengel’s teams won 10 AL Pennants and 7 World Series titles while Torre’s Yankees won 6 and 4 respectively. Torre’s teams made the postseason in each of his dozen seasons as skipper under baseball’s current divisional structure that didn’t exist in Stengel’s era.
Both Managers left the Yankees reluctantly, with bitter tastes in their mouths. Stengel was let go after the Yankees lost the 1960 World Series to the Pirates during which some of his managerial decisions were questioned. Stengel insisted he was fired for “being too old.” Torre, on the other hand, turned down a one-year incentive laden contract to continue managing New York, after the team again failed to make it to the World Series in 2007. I don’t think Stengel, who was definitely the highest paid manager in the game in his day, probably averaging $75 to $100 thousand in salary per season, would have turned down the $5 million offer Torre refused.
Charles Dillon Stengel was born in Kansas City, MO on this date in 1890. His nickname is derived from the name of his hometown.
|10||1949||58||New York Yankees||AL||155||97||57||.630||1||WS Champs|
|11||1950||59||New York Yankees||AL||155||98||56||.636||1||WS Champs|
|12||1951||60||New York Yankees||AL||154||98||56||.636||1||WS Champs|
|13||1952||61||New York Yankees||AL||154||95||59||.617||1||WS Champs|
|14||1953||62||New York Yankees||AL||151||99||52||.656||1||WS Champs|
|15||1954||63||New York Yankees||AL||155||103||51||.669||2|
|16||1955||64||New York Yankees||AL||154||96||58||.623||1||AL Pennant|
|17||1956||65||New York Yankees||AL||154||97||57||.630||1||WS Champs|
|18||1957||66||New York Yankees||AL||154||98||56||.636||1||AL Pennant|
|19||1958||67||New York Yankees||AL||155||92||62||.597||1||WS Champs|
|20||1959||68||New York Yankees||AL||155||79||75||.513||3|
|21||1960||69||New York Yankees||AL||155||97||57||.630||1||AL Pennant|
|Brooklyn Dodgers||3 years||463||208||251||.453||6.0|
|Boston Braves||6 years||870||373||491||.432||6.5|
|New York Yankees||12 years||1851||1149||696||.623||1.3||10 Pennants and 7 World Series Titles|
|New York Mets||4 years||582||175||404||.302||10.0|
|25 years||3766||1905||1842||.508||4.5||10 Pennants and 7 World Series Titles|
As a student of Yankee history, I find myself wondering how will Yankee fans fifty years from now look back at the behavior of A-Rod from the 2012 postseason onward. Ryan Dempster did something I didn’t think was possible. He made me root for Alex Rodriguez again. Don’t get me wrong, I still wish the greedy and self-absorbed A-Rod had never been a member of my favorite team’s roster but what Dempster did when he threw at Rodriguez was gutless. It was also stupid. In fact, from this point forward, I will be referring to the Boston pitcher as Ryan Dumb-ster.
As A-Rod celebrates his 38th birthday and continues his now-sputtering quest to become Baseball’s all-time home run king, you would think he is a lot more at peace with himself than he was just two years ago at this time. I believe the key is that he has finally stopped trying to portray himself one way to the public while living his private life in a completely different way.
I did not become a true fan of A-Rod the player until 2007, when two things happened simultaneously. First, he had the most incredible year on the field of any Yankee I’ve ever seen play the game. Secondly, he learned how to say “no comment” whenever the New York media asked him questions that were not about his play on the field.
Then, A-Rod and his agent, Scott Boras orchestrated that tasteless and clueless announcement during the 2007 World Series that A-Rod was opting out of his Yankee contract. Even though the move did end up making millions more Yankee dollars for Rodriguez, it was a public relations disaster for him at the same time.
By the time 2008 rolled around, A-Rod was still saying no comment to the reporters but the papparazzi photos of his extra marital actions started speaking a lot louder than his words. With the Yankees struggling with injuries under then new manager, Joe Girardi, the sports pages of the New York tabloids were filled with photos of Rodriguez in night time action. Unfortunately, none of those photos showed A-Rod with a baseball uniform on.
Then during the spring of 2009 we learned that A-Rod did take steroids. So in the space of just two and a half pinstripe seasons, Rodriguez’s actions verified his greed, his marital infidelity and his cheating on the field, a sort of modern day ballplayer’s triple crown. But then came the Yankees’ glorious ’09 post season run, with Alex leading the way with some of the most impressive clutch hitting I’ve seen during my fifty years as an avid fan of MLB. He had reversed his reputation as a perennial goat of October, captured his elusive World Championship ring and gained the somewhat begrudging adoration of Big Apple fans all at the same time. It seemed too good to be true and perhaps it was. This past year we learned that Rodriguez visited, Dr Anthony Galea, the recently convicted Canadian “blood doctor” without telling the Yankee front-office.
So like many Yankee fans, I’m still wondering who this superstar is. The one good thing is that the newest version of A-Rod no longer attempts to profusely deny his faults. Instead, he just refuses to discuss them with the media, which is perfectly OK by me. The one I’ve watched play in pinstripes these past eight seasons is certainly one of the most talented baseball players I’ve seen in the last half-century and I guess I’m hoping that is how he will be remembered.
Ironically, this Yankee who stopped talking about himself shares his birthday with another Yankee who never could. This utility-infielder and this Yankee starting pitcher from the 1950’s were also born on July 27th.
|NYY (9 yrs)||1249||5476||4673||889||1366||227||8||302||960||141||658||1037||.292||.387||.538||.925|
|SEA (7 yrs)||790||3515||3126||627||966||194||13||189||595||133||310||616||.309||.374||.561||.934|
|TEX (3 yrs)||485||2172||1863||382||569||91||9||156||395||44||249||379||.305||.395||.615||1.011|
The last Boston Red Sox team to win a World Series during the 20th century was the 1918 squad. Their starting rotation consisted of Carl Mays, Bullet Joe Bush, Babe Ruth and today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, “Sad Sam” Jones. By 1922, three of the four were pitching for the Yankees and the fourth was on his way to becoming New York’s and all of baseball’s most famous home-run hitter of all time.
During Sad Sam’s four years as a starter in Beantown, he won 64 games including 23 in 1921. He then won 67 games during his five seasons in pinstripes, including a 21-victory season in 1923. He remained in the big leagues until 1935, retiring when he was 42-years-old, with a lifetime record of 229-217 with 36 career shutouts.
An interesting fact about Jones’ career was that opposing runners stole very few bases off of old Sam despite the fact that he almost never attempted a pick-off throw. What was his secret for scaring would-be base-stealers from even trying to run against him? According to a 1954 article in the Baseball Digest, Jones would just stare at runners until they would inevitably walk back to first. As soon as they started their trip back to the bag, Jones would throw the next pitch.
|BOS (6 yrs)||64||59||.520||3.39||157||124||30||83||18||4||1045.0||1069||474||394||16||338||307||1.346|
|NYY (5 yrs)||67||56||.545||4.06||202||130||49||66||8||22||1089.1||1149||582||492||53||405||363||1.427|
|WSH (4 yrs)||50||33||.602||3.70||104||100||3||49||7||1||709.2||745||352||292||24||235||217||1.381|
|CHW (4 yrs)||36||46||.439||4.20||105||98||6||39||3||0||700.1||777||400||327||46||251||222||1.468|
|CLE (2 yrs)||4||9||.308||3.62||49||9||26||2||0||4||149.0||133||79||60||0||65||42||1.329|
|SLB (1 yr)||8||14||.364||4.32||30||26||2||11||0||0||189.2||211||121||91||12||102||72||1.650|
From 1921 to 1924, Elmer Frederick “Irish” Meusel was John McGraw’s left-fielder on four consecutive pennant winning and two world championship teams. His four season RBI total for the Giants beginning in 1922, was 470.
Irish was not, however, the best left fielder playing for the home team in the Polo Grounds, back then. He was not even considered the best left-fielder in his family. That honor went to his younger and much more ornery brother Bob, who played for the Yankees. The Big Apple has not had a set of better-playing brothers since the Meusels were in town.
Consider this. In 1922, Irish drove in 111 runs for the Giants and “Long Bob” led the AL in RBIs with 138. That’s a total of 249 RBI’s from one set of brothers. In 1941, The DiMaggio boys had 283 RBIs in one season but there were three of them. Even more impressively, in the five seasons from 1921 until 1925, the Meusel brothers combined to drive in 1,125 runs.
If the Meusel’s were around today, I could see Reebok or Nike releasing a new pair of baseball shoes. The left one would be called the “Irish” and the right one, “Long Bob.” Or perhaps modern sneaker companies would have been turned off by the attitude and behavior of today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant.
As I dug deeper into the younger Meusel’s background, I found he had developed a reputation for being lazy on the field. Such criticism came not just from sportswriters of that era but from Meusel’s own Manager, the great Miller Huggins. It was also referenced in his New York Time’s obituary which stated that Meusel’s alleged laziness may have been in appearance only, caused by the fact that the tall, graceful athlete had such a long and loping stride, that he always looked like he was running slow even when he was not. I also found articles indicating that Meusel was not known as a very friendly guy. In 1924, he charged the pitcher in a game in Detroit with his bat-in-hand setting off one of the worst riots in MLB history. Other published accounts described the California native as “dark” and “moody” and a perennial complainer especially when it was time to sign a
contract or comply with a league rule.
But no one disputes Meusel’s five-tool talent on the field. This guy could run, hit, hit for power, field and had a shotgun for an arm. He played left field for one of the greatest Yankee teams in history and during his decade in New York the Yankees appeared in their first six World Series and earned the franchise’s first three championship banners. Meusel’s Yankee career ended when he was sold to the Reds after the 1929 season. During his ten seasons in pinstripes he hit 146 home runs, drove in 1,005 runs, hit .311 and maintained a .500 slugging percentage.
|NYY (10 yrs)||1294||5543||5032||764||1565||338||87||146||1002||134||349||556||.311||.358||.500||.858|
|CIN (1 yr)||113||484||443||62||128||30||8||10||62||9||26||63||.289||.330||.460||.790|
I was one of those Yankee fans who screamed the loudest when the recently departed George Steinbrenner pegged this guy to replace Buck Showalter as Yankee manager after the 1995 playoff loss to Seattle. We had good reason to be skeptics. Up until then, Torre had managed the Mets, Braves and Cardinals, losing an average of 90 games per year and compiling a dreadful .472 winning percentage. It seemed as if the Yankees had turned the corner with Showalter and when he got fired, one year after the miserable players strike, I was about ready to stop watching baseball.
Boy was I wrong. 1996 turned out to be one of the, if not the greatest years of my life as a Yankee fan and Joe Torre’s managerial skills were a huge part of the reason why. Not only was he adept at Steinbrenner diplomacy, he was also a great communicator with his players and it seemed every move he made from the dugout was the right one.
Joe’s tenure with the Yankees was a wonderful time in the team’s history (although my euphoria has been significantly dampened with the steroids usage disclosures involving several Yankees who played for Torre) and Yankee fans will always admire and be grateful for the calm, professional way he handled the immense pressure and responsibilities that came with the job.
Here’s a look at the regular season career Yankee won-loss records of the top five winning managers in pinstripe history:
|Manager – World Championships||Wins||Losses||Pct.|
|Joe McCarthy – 7||1460||867||.627|
|Joe Torre – 4||1173||767||.605|
|Casey Stengel – 7||1149||696||.623|
|Miller Huggins – 3||1067||719||.597|
|Ralph Houk – 2||944||806||.539|
Joe shares a birthday with this Yankee pitcher, who started the first game ever in the newly renovated Yankee Stadium in April of 1976. This former Yankee pinch-hitter was also born on July 18th as was this much more recent NY utility infielder.
Here’s Torre’s season-by-season record as Yankee skipper and his lifetime totals by teams he managed during his career:
|16||1996||55||New York Yankees||AL||162||92||70||.568||1||WS Champs|
|17||1997||56||New York Yankees||AL||162||96||66||.593||2|
|18||1998||57||New York Yankees||AL||162||114||48||.704||1||WS Champs|
|19||1999||58||New York Yankees||AL||162||98||64||.605||1||WS Champs|
|20||2000||59||New York Yankees||AL||161||87||74||.540||1||WS Champs|
|21||2001||60||New York Yankees||AL||161||95||65||.594||1||AL Pennant|
|22||2002||61||New York Yankees||AL||161||103||58||.640||1|
|23||2003||62||New York Yankees||AL||163||101||61||.623||1||AL Pennant|
|24||2004||63||New York Yankees||AL||162||101||61||.623||1|
|25||2005||64||New York Yankees||AL||162||95||67||.586||1|
|26||2006||65||New York Yankees||AL||162||97||65||.599||1|
|27||2007||66||New York Yankees||AL||162||94||68||.580||2|
|New York Mets||5 years||709||286||420||.405||5.3|
|Atlanta Braves||3 years||486||257||229||.529||2.0|
|St. Louis Cardinals||6 years||706||351||354||.498||3.5|
|New York Yankees||12 years||1942||1173||767||.605||1.2||6 Pennants and 4 World Series Titles|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||3 years||486||259||227||.533||2.0|
|29 years||4329||2326||1997||.538||2.6||6 Pennants and 4 World Series Titles|