George Weiss

George Weiss, Casey Stengel, Hank Bauer
The trio that propelled the 1950s
Yankees: (left to right) George
Weiss, manager Casey Stengel,
and outfielder Hank Bauer.

From 1932 to 1947, George Weiss developed talent to outfit a New York Yankees club that won nine pennants and eight World Series.

Not athletic as a child, George Martin Weiss (1894-1972) became manager of his New Haven, Connecticut, high school team when he was a senior, in 1912. In 1914, while attending Yale, he organized and then managed a semipro team, which played on Sunday, something pro teams were forbidden to do in the state. To gain attendance, he once lured Ty Cobb to a game, with Cobb insisting on being paid $350. After the game, George handed Cobb $800, and when the Tigers were playing in New York or Boston, Cobb would thereafter travel to New Haven to play for George’s team.

At age 24, Weiss bought a team in New Haven in the Eastern League, eventually earning a reputation as a developer of big-league talent. He moved to Baltimore of the International League in 1929, bringing financial success to the team through the sale of prospects. Yankees owner Colonel Jake Ruppert, eager for the same success he was seeing in Branch Rickey’s St. Louis Cardinals farm system, hired Weiss in 1932 to create and direct a Yankees minor-league organization.

Some of the players who came up through Weiss’s system included Joe Gordon, Charlie Keller, Phil Rizzuto, and Yogi Berra. In 1947, Weiss was named general manager, and he hired Casey Stengel in 1949. The duo led the Yanks to a record five straight world championships. Weiss’s ability to acquire such pennant insurance as Johnny Mize and Enos Slaughter was uncanny. Weiss stole Roger Maris from Kansas City. And his farm system produced Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. Weiss also raised an estimated $2 million in player sales.

The Yanks won 10 pennants and seven championships before Weiss was fired in 1960. He and Stengel were both cut loose after the Pirates shocked the Yankees and the world in the Series. Weiss and Stengel were told that they were “too old.” The Yankee juggernaut staggered on for two more years on stored talent before falling after 40 years of excellence.

Weiss was hired to build the expansion Mets -- with Stengel as manager. History has well recorded the futility of the early Mets, but Weiss knew his business, and he laid the groundwork for the first world championship ever won by an expansion team, the ’69 “Miracle” Mets. George was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.

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