He was an incredible character to be around. I suspect he was more of a character with the New York Mets than he was with the Yankees during the forties and fifties, winning all those American League Pennants and World Championships. He had to become more of a character with the Mets, because he realized that expansion teams back then were going to struggle to develop themselves into something. There was no free agency or other paths to find the more instant success. You would have to grow your own players, and your system was going to have to work. So my first time around him I considered him to be a delightful character. He understood the process, and I think he may have "hammed it up" a little more because his job was to entertain the media and keep them from turning on the franchise. He knew the team was not going to be successful for a while.
So in a sense, while he was doing his job for the Mets I think he was
eroding his legend as a great manager. Unfortunately people tend to remember him as the clown, which he did play occasionally. As smart and savvy as he was, he did play that clown part a little bit as the Mets Manager. You tend to forget he was a pretty damn good manager of some pretty damn good teams while wearing the Yankee pinstripes.