Creamer does a nice job of dispelling the notion that Stengel was "lucky" because he managed teams with great talent. In fact, he notes, writers regularly picked the Yanke...es not to win in the first few years of Stengel's reign. He was a master manipulator of his roster, regularly "platooning" players -- the term was new at the time -- and forcing the action of games in ways unthinkable today, such as pinch-hitting early in games and regularly switching players from position to position.
His record of success as manager of the Yankee juggernaut from 1949 to 1960 remains one of baseball's unapproachable legacies: 10 pennants and seven World Series titles, including five in a row. "Casey could be wildly amusing," Creamer writes, stating the obvious, "but," he continues, "there was a burning ambition in him too." By displaying the former--especially in the form of his own confusing use of words, dubbed Stengelese by the beat writers whose job it was to interpret him--Stengel was able to let the latter sneak up on the opposition undetected. It was part of his myth and part of his mystery, both of which Creamer exposes with great skill, real respect, and obvious affection.
"Stengel: His Life and Times" is no mere biography. It is a chronicle, not only of the earlier days of baseball, but of America itself. As a biography, it is superlative. As a history book, it stands on it's own merits.