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Stengel Refuses to Predict Mets’ Season

Apr. 5, 1963 - When Casey Stengel was winning championships with the Yankees, he would rarely hesitate to predict that “we oughta win it again.” Running the Mets, Casey evades the issue. Before the 27-man Met squad broke camp at St. Petersburg, Fla., this morning and headed to Portsmouth, Va., for tomorrow’s meeting with the Baltimore Orioles, Stengel was asked how many games the New Yorkers, who took only 40 in their first year, would win in the forthcoming National League race. “This club has changed somewhat over last year,” Casey said. “More punch in the outfield — Duke Snider, Frank Thomas, Jim Hickman. It is tighter in the infield — Charlie Neal plays third base like it’s a joke, Al Moran makes the double play real good, and Larry Burright gives us speed at second base. The club is improved in catching. Pitching is better. I know at least three — Roger Craig, Al Jackson, Jay Hook — can go nine innings. The club has speed, spirit, and youth. Does it need more hitting? I wonder.” And how many games would the Mets win? “I couldn’t say.” Would they perhaps win 60? “I wouldn’t say.” Would they win more than 40? “I wouldn’t know. But the club has lots of things, including versatility. Sure, we’re heading up with only two catchers, but there’s always Gil Hodges to catch in an emergency.” But where will the Mets finish? “I got no idea. But one of the brighter developments of the spring is the indication that young Ed Kranepool, a first baseman and right fielder, will be a good hitter. He looks now as if he’d been up five or six years already.” But how many games will the Mets win? “I couldn’t tell you. But yes, this club has changed over last year — and for the better.”


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