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Stengel: Liston Will Win if “He Doesn’t Get Tired of Chasing” Clay

Feb. 23, 1964 - Casey Stengel (pictured at Miller Huggins Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.) picks Sonny Liston to defeat Cassius Clay, “that is, if he doesn’t get tired chasing him, and he might because he’s quite a bit older than the other fellow, who is pretty quick, or at least that’s what I heard when I was out in California, from what I read in the papers.”

There’s much fight talk in the Met camp in St. Petersburg as the date of the title scrap in Miami approaches. Stengel was asked who he liked. “What’s the difference in their ages?” Stengel said. Clay is 22, the Old Man was told, and Liston is 30 on the record, although there are some who insist he has taken a few years off for good behavior. “Well then,” said Stengel, “he could be old enough that he’d get tired from hitting him too often. Now, if I was that other fellow, I’d have spent the last two months practicing running backwards, the way [Jim] Piersall did when he hit that home run for me last year. There’s an old saying that he can run, but he can’t hide, and there’s another old saying that if he gets hit in a good spot early, he’ll forget everything he’s learned, and if that happens, it’s gonna be over pretty quick.”

Stengel laughed when he was reminded of a quick-ending fight “back in the ‘20s.” “I wanted to see Dempsey fight that French fellow [Carpentier] over in New Jersey [in 1921], and I couldn’t get a pass, so I paid $25 for a ticket. Besides that, I had to take a cab to Jersey City, and the cab driver soaked me plenty, and then what do you think? I’m in my seat, and the guy in front of me gets into an argument with the guy in front of him about not sitting down. And when they finally do sit down, there’s the Frenchman on his back, and it’s all over and I never did see it, and I’m damned mad about it because that cab driver charged me so much.”


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