Casey Stengel was an avid athlete in his youth, a member of the football, baseball, and basketball teams at Central High School in Kansas City, Missouri, the US.
The 19-year-old Stengel quit high school to play professional baseball. He took part in the Kansas City Blues of the American Association and played in the outfield. However, in 1910, he was sent to Kankakee, Illinois of the Northern Association, then to Shelbyville, Kentucky, and later to the Maysville, Kentucky of the Blue Grass League. At the time, Stengel was not batting very well but exhibited much love and passion for the sport. In 1912, he joined the Dodgers and finished with a .316 batting average that season.
Stengel was really starting to become a big name on the game. In 1913, he demanded and received a contract worth $2,100. He proved by hitting the first home run out of Ebbets Field from Brooklyn that year with batting .272 overall. The next two years, he went on to bat for Brooklyn and helped the Dodgers win the 1916 National League pennant, partly because of his exceptional leadership skills and natural drive for the sport.
The runs went on to be scored, but Stengel was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1917 and played for them 39 games before joining the U.S. Navy to serve his country as well as coach the baseball program at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Two years later, he came back to the Pirates and was soon traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. He played for the Phillies until 1920, but was traded again to the New York Giants.
With a batting average of .368 and .339 during the 1922-23 seasons, Stengel’s time was beneficial for the Giants. He had an on base percentage of more than .400, and contributed to the team’s World Series victory in 1922.
Before writing his first lineup card as a manager, Stengel had a successful playing career. He played in three World Series with the Giants and was a top outfielder with the Dodgers, Braves, Pirates, Phillies, and Giants. Stengel lowered himself in an outfield manhole in a game with Montgomery of the Southern league when no one was looking. When a fly ball sailed in his direction, Stengel appeared out of the ground magically to shag it. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, and then Ol’ Case had pulled off another one.
Having won 10 pennants in 12 years, his success as a manager even further outweighs the notoriety he got as a player. He died in 1975 at the age of 85 and baseball surely misses this great player and manager, especially the smile he brought to everyone’s face.