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Casey Stengel

Clown And Hero

During a Pirates game against the Dodgers in 1919, Stengel entertained the fans with what became a famous stunt. While sitting in the dugout he acquired a sparrow and put it under his cap. At bat, he tipped his cap to the crowd, releasing the bird and delighting the fans. In 1920, after he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, he repeated the trick, among other antics, including popping up from a manhole to catch a fly ball. In 1921, Stengel was traded to the New York Giants, where he would play for John McGraw, his greatest teacher and the manager by whom Stengel would set his standards in the future.

In the 1923 World Series, played in New York's brand new Yankee Stadium, Stengel hit two game-winning home runs—the first World Series homers hit in the stadium. In Game One, he hit a home run in the ninth inning, winning the game for the Giants over the Yankees, 5-4. After he loped around the bases, he attracted numerous comments from sports writers about his gait. They speculated on everything from age-related stiffness to a broken leg. However, according to Stengel biographer Robert W. Creamer, what really happened was that a rubber pad placed in one of Stengel's shoes to ease a bruised heel had shifted, causing him to think his shoe was coming off. In the third game of the Series, Stengel hit the only home run of the game, slamming the ball into the bleachers.

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Famous Sports StarsBaseballCasey Stengel Biography - Young Athlete, "casey At The Bat", Clown And Hero, Shifting Ball Clubs, Managing The Yankees - SELECTED WRITINGS BY STENGEL: