One of the most colorful, and frankly, strangest and unpredictable individuals in baseball history was Casey Stengel. Stengel, who won World Series managing the New York Yankees, and won over fans managing the losing New York Mets, is the subject of a new biography by Marty Appel.
The book, Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character (Doubleday, 2017), was just released in late March, 2017. As of this writing, it is in the top 20 in three best-selling categories in baseball books, as ranked by Amazon.com.
If you do not know Marty Appel, and if you are a sports fan, where have you been? He was the youngest public relations director in baseball history when Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner put him in that position in 1973. He wrote Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain (Doubleday, 2009), and Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss (Bloomsbury, 2012).
Here is a summary of the book, taken from Amazon.com:
“As a player, Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel’s contemporaries included Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Christy Mathewson . . . and he was the only person in history to wear the uniforms of all four New York teams: the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees, and Mets. As a legendary manager, he formed indelible, complicated relationships with Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Billy Martin. For more than five glorious decades, Stengel was the undisputed, quirky, hilarious, and beloved face of baseball–and along the way he revolutionized the role of manager while winning a spectactular ten pennants and seven World Series Championships.
“But for a man who spent so much of his life in the limelight–an astounding fifty-five years in professional baseball–Stengel remains an enigma. Acclaimed New York Yankees’ historian and bestselling author Marty Appel digs into Casey Stengel’s quirks and foibles, unearthing a tremendous trove of baseball stories, perspective, and history. Weaving in never-before-published family documents, Appel creates an intimate portrait of a private man who was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966 and named “Baseball’s Greatest Character” by MLB Network’s Prime 9. Casey Stengel is a biography that will be treasured by fans of our national pastime.”
A critical review of this book appeared in the Wall Street Journal on April 22-23, 2017 (p. C9), entitled “The Lunatic Wore Pinstripes,” by Leigh Montville. He ends the article by saying, “The past is always baseball’s perfect prologue. Stengel’s tale, freshened by new research and solid prose from Mr. Appel, is a wonderful way to ease into the baseball season without ever leaving the couch. Play ball.”