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New York Times-April 16, 2011 – A profile on Toni Harsh and her memories of her Uncle Casey Stengel

Brooklyn 1912, Casey's rookie photo for his move up to the majors

[thkBC height=”300″ width=”500″ anchortext=”Reno Gazette-Journal July 16th 2010″ title=”Reno Gazette-Journal July 16th 2010″ type=”inline” inline_id=”inlinethickbox”] – A profile on Toni Harsh, the Casey Stengel Baseball Center, and Casey Stengel’s induction into the Baseball Reliquary. Originally published in the July 16th, 2010 issue.

Former Reno Councilwoman to Accept Honor for Great-Uncle Casey Stengel

July 17, 2010Reno Gazette Journal

Guy Clifton – Email

Toni Harsh always will have a special place in her heart for the Miracle Mets — the 1969 New York baseball team that won the World Series. She had a front-row view of the playoffs and World Series that year — not to mention an unmatched insight into the game as she sat beside her great-uncle.

After all, few knew more about baseball than Casey Stengel.

The Hall of Fame manager — the first manager the Mets ever had — was retired, but attended all the games, bringing along his great-niece to see future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Cleon Jones and Tommy Agee help the Mets stun the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles and become the first expansion team to win the World Series.

Stengel had built his fame as the manager of the New York Yankees, winning 10 American League pennants and seven World Series from 1949 to 1960.

After a year of retirement, he was hired to manage the 1962 expansion Mets of the National League, considered one of the worst teams in baseball history.

The beloved Stengel, who became well known for his humorous sayings — dubbed “Stengelese” by sportswriters of the day — stayed at the helm for four years before retiring in 1965. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame the following year.

His charisma wasn’t limited to the baseball field. He was adored at home in Southern California as well.

Stengel and his wife, Edna, had no children of their own, so their nieces and nephews were treated as their own and great-nieces and nephews as their grandchildren. Casey Stengel died in 1975 at age 85.

“Uncle Casey and Aunt Edna were so much a part of our lives from the time we were born until their deaths,” said Harsh, a former Reno councilwoman. “We have experiences provided by them that have shaped the people we have become. He influenced me greatly.”

One of Harsh’s favorite pieces of memorabilia is a photo of herself and her mother with Stengel and his wife at the 1969 World Series.

“My mother was his niece, and she was also his personal secretary,” Harsh said.

Casey Stengel was such a positive influence on Harsh that in 2007 she created the nonprofit Casey Stengel Baseball Center, a sports-based educational center that focuses on team building and using Casey Stengel’s character and values as examples.

The center’s eight-member board includes University of Nevada, Reno baseball coach Gary Powers, Jack Dolan, Bill Berrum, Jamie Felten, Tony LaMonica, Russ Pearson, Tom Taber and McClure Wallace.

“We’re going to be looking at doing an annual award recognizing teams or a person that exemplifies playing as part of a team, things like that,” Harsh said.

The center will launch a website and begin outreach projects.

Meanwhile, Casey Stengel’s influence on baseball is ongoing.

On Sunday, Harsh will be traveling to Pasadena, Calif., to accept Casey Stengel’s induction into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals.

The Baseball Reliquary is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history. It’s “Shrine of the Eternals” is much like the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Also being inducted Sunday are Pete Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader; and journalist and author Roger Angell.

“I’ve been asked to receive the honor on behalf of the family,” Harsh said. “A couple of our board members (from the Casey Stengel Baseball Center) are going down to it as well. I think it’s going to be a great honor for the memory of my uncle.”

The Skyisbig Blog on The Baseball Reliquary – Baseball fan and photographer Ben Wideman blogs about Casey’s induction into the Baseball Reliquary.


National Baseball Hall of Fame – The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an independent, non-profit educational institution dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of baseball and its impact on our culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to our national pastime.

The Baseball Reliquary – The Baseball Reliquary is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history and to exploring the national pastime’s unparalleled creative possibilities. Casey Stengel was inducted July 18th, 2010.

The Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center – The mission of the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Centeris to preserve and promote the values of respect, sportsmanship, social justice and excellence through inclusive, culturally diverse, sports-based educational programs and exhibits. Yogi was one of Casey Stengel’s favorite players. Said Casey, “I never play a game without my man.”

National Pitching Association – The National Pitching Association is dedicated to the education of baseball pitchers, their parents, and their coaches, so that they can pitch more effectively, stay healthier, develop a positive mental attitude, and a greater love of the game.