On the illustrious occasion of what would have been his 123rd birthday, we present some of Casey Stengel's memorable observations as the first manager of the New York Mets (1962-1965).
On the club making Hobie Landrith their first pick in the 1961 expansion draft: "You have to have a catcher because if you don't, you're likely to have all passed balls."
On his 1962 team: "The Mets have shown me more ways to lose than I even knew existed."
On Chris Cannizzaro: "He's a remarkable catcher, that Canzoneri (sic). He's the only defensive catcher in baseball who can't catch."
On Gil Hodges: "He fields better on one leg than anybody else I got on two."
On Ron Swoboda: "Amazing strength, amazing power. He can grind dust out of the bat. He will be great, super, even wonderful. Now, if he can only learn to catch a fly ball."
Assessing two young players: "See that fellow over there (Ed Kranepool)? He's 20 years old. In 10 years he has a chance to be a star. Now, that fellow over there (Greg Goossen), he's 19. In 10 years he has a chance to be 29."
When the manager was presented with a cake for his 72nd birthday, Marv Throneberry,whose birthday was in September, pretended to be miffed:: "I just had a birthday and no one handed me a cake." Replied Stengel, "We was afraid you'd drop it."
On his own retirement after he had fallen and broken his hip: "You can't go out to teh mound hobbling and take your pitcher out with a cane."
He also prophesied during the teams's woeful early days that, "The Mets are gonna be amazin'." And when that prophesy appeared to be coming true, he said of the 1969 World Champions-to-be: "This club plays better baseball now. Some of them look fairly alert."
Want more quotes? As Casey would say, "You could look it up."
Todd Haney, turning 48 today, ended his brief, unheralded big league career going oh-for-three and a walk as a September call-up with the 1998 Mets.
A Sports Illustrated cover boy as a rookie phenom with the Royals in 1978, current Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle, 56 today, looks like an early favorite for 2013 NL Manager of the Year. Hurdle had cups of coffee with the 1983 and 1987 Mets and a "Grande" in 1985, when he served as one of Gary Cater's backup catchers. The Mets might have survived their historic collapse in 2007 if manager Hurdle's Colorado Rockies had not won 14 of their last 15 games.
Pre-season posters promoting the 1982 Mets featured a bat-wielding trio of Dave Kingman, George Foster, and Ellis Valentine, proclaiming optimistically, "There's no power shortage at Shea." Kingman led the league that year with 37 homers, but Foster hit a career-low 13 and Valentine, 59 today, only eight.
July 30, 2007:
Good Move: Trading for Luis Castillo to be a double-play partner with, and bat second behind, Jose Reyes.
Bad Move: Signing the 32-year-old Castillo to a four-year, $25 million deal.
July 30, 2004:
Good Move: Trading for Kris Benson: 2.6 WAR in 39 starts as a Met.
Bad Move: Having inordinately-proud-of-her-cleavage Anna Benson play Mrs. Claus to Kris' Santa.
Worse Move: Listening to your pitching coach when he says he can fix Victor Zambrano, a 29-year-old converted infielder with a 1.6 WHIP, 1.14 K/BB and 96 BB in 128 IP, in 15 minutes.
Worst Move: Giving up your 2002 first-round draft pick, fireballing 20-year-old lefthander Scott Kazmir, to acquire the sore-elbowed Zambrano.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
The city of Baltimore was founded on this date in 1729, and, a little over 240 years later, the Mets found themselves playing their first World Series game ever there. In the starting lineup for the Amazins that day, and in four of the five Series games, was Baltimore native son Ron Swoboda. In Game Four he robbed the Orioles' Brooks Robinson by making arguably the greatest catch ever made by a Met not named Endy to short-circuit a Baltimore rally. (See, Casey, he did learn to catch a fly ball.)
The Mets won that game in extra innings to go up three games to one, and clinched the championship the next afternoon, with Swoboda doubling home the tie-breaking run in the eighth inning and scoring the insurance run two batters later.