In times like these, a book about Casey Stengel is just what our nation needs. And Marty Appel has delivered. Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character is a wonderful romp through our collective field of dreams, from the medieval days of the sport to the modern era.
Appel demonstrates convincingly that Stengel was no clown. He could speak clearly and grammatically when he chose to do so, he was an insightful student and teacher of baseball, he understood how to connect with others, he was a sophisticated investor who accumulated wealth, and he was a loving husband to his wife for decades ... Stengel is unquestionably one of baseball’s most significant characters, and Appel is the perfect fit to chronicle his life. One of the more skilled biographies baseball fans could hope to find.
...a workaday account that fails to improve on the rich Stengel literature. Appel, a former public relations director for the Yankees, approaches the work of the biographer the way an official scorer approaches a ballgame: dispassionately noting every event, with little to differentiate the mundane from the miraculous. Appel adds to the historical record details from an unpublished memoir by Stengel’s wife, Edna, but as she would be the first to admit, her husband was most alive when he was on the diamond.
...an affectionate and anecdotal chronicle of the playing and coaching days of Stengel ... Appel portrays Stengel as a one-man vaudeville act ('I can make a living with my face.') who operated with a wink and a wisecrack. 'When you’re losing,' he once observed, 'everyone commences to playing stupid.'”
The unpredictable adventures of this unpredictable man, highlighted by his seven world championships and 10 World Series appearances in 12 years while managing the Yankees (as well as his giddy four years at the end with the woeful Mets), are detailed in this breezy 364-page journey through eras ... The past is always baseball’s perfect prologue. Stengel’s tale, freshened by new research and solid prose from Mr. Appel, is a wonderful way to ease into the baseball season without every leaving the couch. Play ball.
Appel, whose tenure as public relations director for the New York Yankees was just getting started when Stengel died in 1975 at age 85, acknowledges that his friend Robert Creamer wrote a solid Stengel biography in 1984. But new interviews and access to family documents warranted this new bio, which reveals a more personal side of Stengel.