Baseball manager Casey Stengel standing on mound lifting his cap chicken flying out after laying egg

Casey Stengel was one of major league baseball’s true eccentrics. He died back in 1975, but he still inspires, and his legend lives on.

I’ve heard many Stengel anecdotes over the years– including the one about him doffing his cap at the plate and having a bird fly out (for the record: a sparrow).

His first professional game was with the Kankakee Kays. Their ballpark was across the street from the 119-acre Kankakee State Hospital, formerly known as the Illinois Eastern Hospital for the Insane. The residents would watch the games from their windows, and the spectators could watch the residents watch.

In later years, he picked up the nickname “The Ol’ Perfessor,” due to his vast store of baseball “wisdom,” colorfully expressed.

He had a great face, as you can see in these photos. Left: chatting with Dodger manager Walter Alston before a 1960 exhibition game. Right, top to bottom: outside the old Yankee Stadium; with a lineup card during his glory days as manager of the Yankees (1949-60); with his wife Edna at the end of his career as manager of the New York Mets (1962-65).

Photos of Casey Stengel as manager of the New York Yankees and New York Mets

What can brands learn from Casey? The lessons are there, you just have to read between the lines.

1. “When you are younger you get blamed for crimes you never committed. And when you’re older you begin to get credit for virtues you never possessed. It evens itself out.”

Lesson: Every young brand has detractors, some criticism is undeserved. Persevere. Stay positive. Serve. Over-deliver. You’ll create a halo effect.

2. Casey’s craggy face and his double-talk explanations made him a public-relations darling. He liked to talk, people liked to listen– whether they could understand him or not.

Lesson: We like people who make us laugh. We like people who make us feel good. When we like people, we forgive minor flaws and give them the benefit of the doubt.

3. Casey once said that Babe Ruth could have used “a rolled-up copy of the Police Gazette” to hit home runs.

Lesson: Training is good. Experience is good. Webinars are good. TED talks are good. But nothing beats talent. Hire good people, put ’em in the lineup.

4. “I’ll never make the mistake of being 70 again.” – Casey, after being fired by the Yankees for being too old after they lost the 1960 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.

Lesson: There will come a time when you need to reinvent yourself. Accept this with good humor. Then reinvent yourself and get back in the game.

5. As Mets manager, he sometimes fell asleep on the bench, but he always woke up for the press conferences that made the team lovable despite a 40-120 won-lost record in its first season (1962).

Lesson: Sometimes you lose. Maybe a lot. Go to the press conference anyway: i.e., stay upbeat and engage your fans. Being lovable builds loyalty. The Mets won the 1969 World Series.

6. “The secret of managing is to keep the five guys that hate you away from the guys who are undecided.”

Lesson: No brand bats 1.000. Respond to complaints. Have a social media crisis management plan. Everyone’s watching, including those undecided about your brand.

7. “The trouble is not that players have sex the night before a game, it’s that they stay out all night looking for it.”

Lesson: Employees “stay out” when they’re not fully invested in a brand. They buy in when the corporate culture gives them a chance to lead, to fail, to make a difference.

8. “Most people at my age are dead.”

Lesson: Be glad you’re alive. You’ve got a product or service you believe in. Win or lose, you’re in the game, with a chance to drive in the winning run. It’s a great feeling.

Play ball!!

Illustration by Mark Armstrong.

Originally published on Mark Armstrong Illustration.