Baseball Short Story
When Casey Ran the Bases
Great Moments in Baseball: From the World Series of 1903 to the Modern Records of Nolan Ryan.
Tom Seaver with Marty Appel (1992)
The first time Mickey Mantle ever played in Ebbets Field - it was during the 1952 World Series - his manager, Casey Stengel, walked him to the outfield and showed him how the ball might carom off the walls.
Mantle looked at him as if he were crazy. He viewed Stengel as a very old man who might be capable of making up a lineup but who would never in a million years know how to play balls bouncing off outfield walls.
Stengel later told people that he said to Mantle, "You think I was born this old?" And he proceeded to take a few minutes to explain to his young prodigy that he had, in fact, played those walls in that very park a few hundred years earlier. He had been a Dodger outfielder, right there in Ebbets Field, from 1912 to 1917, and had played in the 1916 World Series there. ...
The funny thing about Mantle's reaction in 1952 to the 62- or 64-year-old Stengel (no one was sure how old he really was) is that Casey was considered an "old man" as far back as the first World Series ever played in Yankee Stadium, in 1923.
This was so in part because, at 33 (or 35), Casey was among the oldest Giants ... in part because, well, he looked older than he was. He had this wrinkled face and these bowlegs. And, although he was not a coach, he was sort of a pal to John McGraw, the manager, looked older than McGraw (who was fifty), and was a platoon player, which was still unusual in those days. (Only Casey Stengel could be responsible for a story that has both John McGraw and Tug McGraw in it.)
Stengel later made platoon baseball, the tailoring of a lineup to respond to whether the opposing pitcher was a lefty or a righty, a part of the modern game. One can plainly see where he learned it. In 1922 and 1923, his only two full years under McGraw, he played in 150 games and batted .355, with 12 homers, 87 runs batted in, and 10 stolen bases. They were the most productive two years of his fourteen-year playing career, and he got into the World Series both times. It's easy to understand how he would react when future players complained about platooning.
The 1923 World Series offered the third consecutive matchup between the Yankees and the Giants, with the Giants seeking to become the first team to win three straight world championships. The year 1923 was different because the Yankees would play their home games not at the Polo Grounds, where they had been tenants since 1913, but in the new Yankee Stadium. It had been hastily constructed prior to the season just across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds on an old Bronx lumberyard turned park. ...

L-R: Casey Stengel and Mickey Mantle 1952, Casey Stengel as a Giant, John McGraw
McGraw still looked down on the American League. In 1904, you will recall, he had refused to participate in a World Series. By 1923, he wasn't putting up such roadblocks, but he did have his players dress in the Polo Grounds and take taxis to Yankee Stadium, rather than use the new visiting-clubhouse facilities.
The first game, on October 10, drew an attendance of 55,307 at Yankee Stadium, almost 20,000 fewer than had attended the team's opener in April. Miller Huggins, the Yankees manager, had a former Giant right-hander on the mound, Waite Hoyt, so McGraw had Stengel, a left-handed hitter, in CF, batting sixth. The Yankee fans no doubt expected Ruth to hit the first World Series home run in the new stadium, just as he had hit the first one in the regular season.
The Yanks jumped off to a 3-0 lead after two innings, driving Giant starter Mule Watson out of the game. The big hit for the Yanks was a two-run single in the second by CF Whitey Witt, the team's leadoff hitter. But then the Giants knocked out Hoyt in the third as they scored four times, the big hit a two-run triple by Heinie Groh with his odd-shaped "bottle bat." Bullet Joe Bush, one of the many ex-Red Sox players who had been sold to New York, came in for the Yanks.
The game continued 4-3 Giants until the Yanks tied it in the seventh on a single by Bush and triple to right by Joe Dugan. Ruth, the next batter, grounded to first, where George Kelly made a terrific play and fired home to nail Dugan and keep the score 4-4. Neither team scored in the eighth.
In the ninth the Giants had Ross Youngs, Irish Meusel, and Stengel due to hit against Bush. Youngs lined out to Witt in center for the first out. Meusel grounded to Dugan at third for the second out. Up came Stengel, who had flied deep to Ruth in right, walked, and singled, the single being the only hit off Bush since he'd come on in the third.
Bush delivered, and Casey smacked it on a line into LCF. Witt from center and Bob Meusel (Irish's brother) from left raced for the ball, but it was soon beyond them, heading for a fence that was 460' away.
Pushing his old body as hard as he could. Casey proceeded around the bases. It looked as though he had almost run out of gas near third but, in fact, one of his shoes had come loose and was only half on his foot. Witt picked up the ball and fired it to Meusel. Now it was the relay home as Casey gave it everything he had. Wally Schang, the Yankee C, waited for the throw, which was just a moment late as Casey slid for the plate in a cloud of dust. He got up slowly, dusted himself off, smiled, and walked to the Giants' dugout, to the cheers and laughter of his teammates.
The man who would go on to earn Hall of Fame honors by leading his Yankees to ten pennants in twelve years as manager had hit the first World Series home run ever in Yankee Stadium. It was an inside-the-park homer and it gave the Giants a 5-4 win.

Stengel slides for inside-the-park HR in 1923 World Series
You know who hit the second World Series home run in Yankee Stadium history? And the first to clear the fence?
It was Game Three, two days later, a scoreless tie in the seventh inning. Sad Sam Jones was on the mound for the Yankees with one out in the seventh when Casey Stengel blasted one into the RF bleachers. The Giants hung on to win that game 1-0, giving Stengel his second game-winning hit of the Series and the Giants a 2-1 lead in games. But the Yankees went on to win their first World Championship, no thanks to the .417 hitting and two game-winning homers by their future manager. Had they given sports cars to series MVPs back then, Casey might have driven off with a handsome roadster.
Those who only know of the wrinkled old face, so full of character, that belonged to Casey Stengel, Manager, will find his exploits as a playe rsimply "amazin'," one of the favorite words of "the Ol' Perfessor."