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Jackie Robinson Hits Back at Stengel

June 30, 1964 - Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson said yesterday he would “rather be chock full o’ nuts than a lousy manager.”

The statement, made only partly in jest, constituted the third round of a salvo of criticisms between the former Dodger great and the current manager of the New York Mets, Casey Stengel, whose troops defeated the Giants last night at Candlestick.

Casey recently remarked to reporters that Robinson was “chock full o’ nuts,” a play upon a restaurant chain of that title which Robinson once served as vice president.

“That goes to show you how far behind the times Stengel is,” Robinson continued. “I had resigned from the restaurant chain four or five months earlier. I say the man is asleep on the bench.”

It was some such similar remark that first raised the cockles on ol’ Casey’s craggy head and prompted the “nutty” statement.

Robinson is in San Francisco organizing committees to stump for Governor William Scranton at the upcoming GOP convention in that city. He will chick out of his Hilton suite today but be back in time for the convention.

Jackie wanted to say a few thousand words about his candidate’s chances, but he was easily diverted to his first love, athletics.

Baseball, of course, is tops on his list, and on behalf of the national pastime he made these observations:

— “The Giants will win the pennant pretty easily this year.”

— “Willie Mays is the greatest player the game has ever produced.”

— “Had I gone with the Giants while I had a few good years left, I might have had a chance to become the first Negro manager in organized baseball.”

Jackie attributed his feeling on the last statement to the belief that Horace Stoneham “is one of the few owners in baseball who possibly realize a Negro is ready for the job.”

Asked if he thought the appointment of Mays as captain of the Giants was a step toward managerial status, he answered:

“Yes, but I am not certain he is a good managerial prospect. He is the all-around greatest player the game has ever produced, but he also is easy-going and happy-go-lucky, and I’m not sure these traits would serve him as well in managing as in playing. These are sensitive times.”

He added that he thought there were several Negro ballplayers and former stars around the major leagues who would be good managers.

And how about Jackie Robinson himself?

“Not interested now,” he answered. “I’m a little bit too far removed from the game.”

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