“You Never Heard of Casey Stengel?!” is the latest entry in the “You Never Heard of…” series by Jonah Winter. This one is illustrated by Barry Blitt. And it’s a great read.
Stengel was a funny man who often gave the impression of being just a clown. But he was, in fact, a very complex person. On the one hand, his typical conversations were comprised of long, rambling monologues, detailing, in near-incomprehensible ramblings, his opinions about everything baseball. Yet he apparently knew exactly what he was saying and, more importantly, exactly what he meant.
His baseball career began as he overcame his very limited talents as a player and wound up in the major leagues. He then moved to various positions as a manager of inferior minor league teams, then finally to better teams, and ultimately to managing baseball royalty, the New York Yankees.
Because of his reputation as a clown, both he and the Yankees were derided as fools when they hired him. But they became World Series champions in his first year and went on to achieve historically impressive feats throughout his career as their manager.
And this book captures his entire story in lovely and hilarious detail while clearly delineating the myriad complexities of this most amazing man. He once walked onto the field with no pants on. He tipped his hat to fans who were booing him, and out flew a sparrow. He told his team to line up alphabetically by height. He said, “The team has come along slow but fast.” Yet while all of this seeming nonsense was going on, he was amassing an encyclopedic knowledge of the game and its intricacies. He was a creative, daring, brilliant technician and communicator. And all the personal and professional qualities are delightfully illustrated in the words and pictures of “You Never Heard of Casey Stengel?!”
Needless to say (perhaps), highly recommended for kids and adults.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Schwartz & Wade, for review purposes.