10/18/2003 11:50 PM ET
Skippers experienced like no others
McKeon, Torre: two wise managers in spotlight
In 1958, 68-year-old manager Casey Stengel of the New York Yankees went up against 60-year-old manager Fred Haney of the Milwaukee Braves. Before this 100th anniversary year of the World Series, they were the oldest managerial combination in Fall Classic history.
By Dinn Mann / MLB.com
In 2003, it's time to tip the cap to the Marlins' Jack McKeon, 72, and the Yankees' Joe Torre, 63, who top that 128-years-between-them total by seven years.
What happened in that 1958 showdown of senior skippers?
The younger man, Haney, won the first two games, home dates for Milwaukee.
The Series went seven games, after the more-life-experienced manager and his Yankees had been confronted by a three-games-to-one deficit.
New York won it all with three consecutive triumphs, the last two on the road, the same way McKeon and the Fish finished off the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series.
As for the managers in the Marlins-Yankees World Series, both have demonstrated they have dignified, approachable qualities, even in otherwise crowded, raucous or impersonal settings.
As Marlins beat writer Joe Frisaro of MLB.com observed, in a touching moment after the Marlins outlasted Chicago in Game 7 of the NLCS, a call to McKeon's mobile phone beckoned as he sat fielding questions from reporters. McKeon didn't dare ignore it. His granddaughter was on the line. Cameras rolled. He was busy, but no way was he too busy to pass up the opportunity to tell her, publicly: "I love you."
And Torre, after an emotional ALCS encounter vs. the Red Sox that stretched to the 11th inning of the seventh game and the wee hours of Friday morning, delivered a heartfelt sound bite of his own.
"This is the best," Torre said in the packed interview room. "To come here and play against the Red Sox and play them 26 times, and beat our rival like we did, it couldn't be more satisfying. This has to be the sweetest taste of all for me. ... I tell my players every spring: 'I judge you on your effort. You're not always going to succeed. Understand, that I appreciate it.'"
So there you have it, two statesmen with 135 years of thoughtfulness in their souls, leading their respective ballclubs to as excitedly earned a Fall Classic as you'll see -- and doing so in the October of their years.
Here's to Jack and Joe, two dugout dandies who have a great deal more in common than pre-1941 birthdays.
Such as? League Championship rings and class.
Dinn Mann is editor-in-chief for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.