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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Hall of Fame Induction Plaque; includes photo albums of event; 1966; sold for $24,000. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.
If you believe Woody Allen the secret to life is showing up. That willingness to keep coming back again and again and giving your all is the same quality that makes for great athletes.

It’s Joe DiMaggio smacking a line drive into the chain link fence. It’s Roberto Clemente diving to steal third. It’s Babe Ruth rounding the bases for yet one more run. It’s being on the field night after night, win or lose.

Casey Stengel was a good example. For 60 years he had his hands on the levers and dials of American major league baseball. First as an outfielder and then as a manager, Stengel defied the odds.

Nobody expected much when the Yankees picked the 59-year-old as manager in 1949. In nine years of managing the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers he never finished higher than fifth place.

Called a loser and clown, in Stengel’s first season managing the Yankees he won a world championship. He went on to capture 10 pennants and seven World Series.

Stengel spent his last four years coaching an expansion team, the New York Mets. He retired in 1965 at the age of 70. He was inducted into Hall of Fame a year later.

If you asked him he would say his managing philosophy was simple. He kept the players who hated him like Joe DiMaggio, away from the players who were undecided.

Stengel had a way of shuffling players in and out of the lineup and sometimes changed their positions daily causing Dimaggio to declare:

“I don’t get this guy. Nobody knows when he’s playing or where. With this guy managing, we can’t possibly win.”

Other players felt differently.

“Casey was a heck of a psychiatrist,” said outfielder Gene Woodling. “Don’t kid yourself. That guy made me successful. I was mad at him a lot of times, and said things about him, but he got good baseball out of me…He knew who to stir up and who to leave alone.”

Full of pranks and jokes Stengel was also the kind of character sport’s writers loved. He could sit up all night rehashing his stories, embellishing them each time he told them.

On more than one occasion as a player in the minors he stashed a sparrow under his cap at the beginning of a game. When he stepped up to the plate he tipped his cap and the bird bolted out to the crowds delight.

“Because I can make people laugh, some of them think I’m a damn fool,” he said.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Stengel was a player-manager who rose up through the school of hard knocks to become one of the most influential figures in sports history.

On June 5, 2007, Sotheby’s and SCP Auctions teamed up in New York to present an Important Sports Memorabilia and Cards auction. Featured in the sale were a number of Stengel items.

Here are some current values for his memorabilia.

Casey Stengel

New York Yankees Wool Cap and Cleats; tools of Stengel’s trade; well worn shoes inspiring one to imagine Casey pacing the dugout and roaming the field; $7,800.

Hall of Fame Induction Plaque; includes personal induction photo albums; symbol of baseball’s highest honor; 1966; $24,000.

New York Yankees Commemorative Black Bats; 12; Stengel’s personal collection; representing eight World Championships; near mint condition; $27,000.

New York Yankees Championship Gold Cufflinks; engraved “Casey Stengel” on back; 1957; $72,000.

New York Yankees World Series Ring; one of the most important World Series rings to come on the market; “Charles D. Stengel” appears inside the band; 1951; $180,000.

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