Casey Stengel and Mangers Over 65


Casey Stengel in 1953

On this date in 1960, the Yankees fired manager Casey Stengel. The 70-year old Stengel had managed the Yankees since 1949, and had managed the Brooklyn Dodgers (1934-36) and Boston Braves (1938-43) prior to that. With Stengel as manager, the Yankees had amassed a 1,149-696 record (.623) and won 10 AL pennants and 7 World Championships.

Nonetheless, after the Yankees lost the 1960 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team informed Stengel that his contract would not be renewed. At a press conference announcing the decision, that Stengel had demanded, Yankees management evaded the question of why Stengel was being let go, to which Stengel responded, “Resigned, fired, quit, discharged, use whatever you damn please. I’ll never make the mistake of being seventy again.” The Yankees later stated that Stengel was terminated due to his age, which they would have done even if they had won the World Series. (Of course, it has been argued that the Yankees really wanted to hire Ralph Houk.)

Too late for Casey, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed on December 15, 1967 (effective on June 12, 1968). The law protects workers from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. As originally written, it covered employees between the ages of 40 and 65. The age range was extended to age 70 with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act Amendments of 1978. The upper-age limit was eliminated with the 1986 amendments to the act.

Good thing, too, because according to NPR a few years ago, MLB had the oldest managers of all professional sports. During the 2018 season, the average age of MLB managers was 54 years. Ten managers were over the age of 60; Jim Riggleman was the oldest at age 65 (the youngest was Kevin Cash, age 40). The oldest manager ever to manage an MLB team was Connie Mack, who lead the Philadelphia A’s for 30 years, from 1901 to 1950, before retiring at age 87.

Maybe in MLB, at least for managers, age really doesn’t matter. Casey himself continued to manage until age 75. He was hired to manage the expansion New York Mets in 1962, where he remained through much of the 1965 season – he only retired after breaking his hip that July. He officially retired from the Mets on August 30, 1965.

~ baseballrebecca