Posts tagged ‘Ernest Lawrence Thayer’

Casey at the Bat

When I got a comment on the Bull! posting, I clicked on a youtube clip of Ferdinand the Bull, and I notcied some other Disney classics on youtube. One of them was ‘Casey at the bat’, I never heard / saw that one. After googling the text I altered the poem a bit:

Casey at the Bat
After a poem by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Baez team that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Lyon left at first, and Cheney did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that–
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”

But Lee preceded Casey, as did also George and mom,
And the latter was a hoodoo, while the former was a bum;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Lee let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Cin , the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Cindy safe at second and Lee a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as she stepped into her place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, she lightly doffed her hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on her as she rubbed her hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when she wiped them on her shirt;
Then while the prosecutor ground the ball into her hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped–
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one!” the judge then said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
“Kill him! Kill the judge!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised her hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
She stilled the rising tumult; she bade the game go on;
She signaled to the bailiff, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the Judge then said, “Strike two!”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered “Fraud!”
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw her face grow stern and cold, they saw her muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, her teeth are clenched in hate,
She pounds with cruel violence her bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
Yes there is joy in Orlando–mighty Casey knocked her self out.

————————————————————–

The original ‘Casey at the Bat’ was written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer (August 14, 1863 – August 21, 1940) an American writer and poet.

“Thayer was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts and raised in Worcester. He graduated magna cum laude in philosophy from Harvard in 1885, where he was editor of the Harvard Lampoon. Its business manager, William Randolph Hearst, hired Thayer as humor columnist for the San Francisco Examiner 1886-88.

Thayer’s last piece, dated June 3, 1888, was a ballad entitled “Casey” (“Casey at the Bat”).

It took several months after its publication for the poem to make Thayer famous, since he was hardly the boastful type and had signed the June 3 poem with the nickname “Phin”. Two mysteries remain about the poem: whether anyone or anyplace was the real-life Casey and Mudville, and, if so, their actual identities. On March 31, 2004, Katie Zezima of The New York Times penned an article called “In ‘Casey’ Rhubarb, 2 Cities Cry ‘Foul!'” on the competing claims of two towns to such renown: Stockton, California, and Holliston, Massachusetts.

On the possible model for Casey, Thayer dismissed the notion that any single living baseball player was an influence. However, late 1880s Boston star Mike “King” Kelly is odds-on the most likely model for Casey’s baseball situations. Besides being a native of a town close to Boston, Thayer, as a San Francisco Examiner baseball reporter in the offseason of 1887-88, covered exhibition games featuring Kelly. In November 1887, some of his reportage about a Kelly at-bat has the same ring as Casey’s famous at-bat in the poem. A 2004 book by Howard W. Rosenberg, Cap Anson 2: The Theatrical and Kingly Mike Kelly: U.S. Team Sport’s First Media Sensation and Baseball’s Original Casey at the Bat, reprints a 1905 Thayer letter to a Baltimore scribe who was asking about the poem’s roots. In the letter, Thayer singled out Kelly (d. 1894), as having shown “impudence” in claiming to have written it. Rosenberg argues that if Thayer still felt offended, Thayer may have steered later comments away from connecting Kelly to it. Kelly had also performed in vaudeville, and recited the poem dozens of times, possibly, to Thayer’s dismay, butchering it. Incidentally, the first public performance of the poem was on August 14, 1888, by actor De Wolf Hopper, on Thayer’s 25th birthday.” from wikipedia. I suppose the original poem is a part of American culture.

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