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Review of You Never Heard of 
Casey Stengel?!

winter_you never heard of casey stengelYou Never Heard of Casey Stengel?!
by Jonah Winter; illus. by Barry Blitt
Primary, Intermediate    Schwartz & Wade/Random    
40 pp.
3/16    978-0-375-87013-2    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-375-97013-9    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-375-98748-9    $10.99

Winter’s latest baseball book (You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!, rev. 3/09; You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!, rev. 1/13) hits the shelves just in time for spring training. The subject — kooky manager Stengel — was a mediocre player in his day, better known for his antics than his ability (although as a New York Giant he did best a guy by the name of Babe Ruth in the 1923 World Series). But as a manager no one has matched Stengel’s five consecutive World Series victories — and seven total championships between 1949–1960 — with the great Yankees teams of the era. Winter uses an old-timer’s storytelling style; reading this is like listening to Bronx barflies comparing memories. He sagely plays up Stengel’s wackiness. For instance, in one of several (ticket stub–shaped) sidebars, he highlights Casey’s “Stengelese” (e.g., “The team has come along slow but fast”). Blitt’s pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations range from the suitably silly (an assortment of Casey’s crazy exploits) to the poignant (Casey doffing his cap as he walks off the field and into the sunset), using caricature and perspective to reflect Stengel’s larger-than-life persona. An author’s note is appended, along with a “Glossary of Baseball Terms” and a brief note “About the Statistics in This Book.” A lack of sources and further reading is the only weak spot in this affectionate tribute to one of baseball’s true originals.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Sam Bloom

Sam Bloom is a former elementary and middle school teacher. He is currently senior children's librarian at the Blue Ash branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in Ohio.

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