In the Clubhouse with "Casey"
Since its publication on June 3, 1888, Ernest L. Thayer's "Casey at the Bat, A Ballad of the Republic" has become an integral part of the fabric of our culture. Here is more than you need to know about America's classic poem.
It has been reported that at actor/comedian De Wolf Hopper's initial presentation of "Casey" that somewhere in the second act of his performance of, "Prince Methusalem," a Johann Strauss operetta, Hopper departed from the text and inserted, "Casey at the Bat." How he did this remains a mystery.
The day that Hopper first performed "Casey," reportedly Chicago White Stockings beat New York Giants 4-2 in the game that was played earlier that day; that was the same score that was in the poem.
One report indicates that the real "Casey" was Thayer's schoolmate at Worcester Classical High School, Daniel Casey.
There are those who say that Casey is modeled after a Stockton, California ballplayer named John Cahill (lifetime batting average of .205 for three seasons in the 1880's). Stockton has also been referred to as "Mudville." Legend has it that Thayer saw a California League game in the spring of 1888 in Stockton. Reportedly, like the poem, the league had players named Barrows, Flynn and Cooney.
For two seasons (2000-2001) the Stockton Ports were named the Mudville Nine.
Some believe that "Mudville" referred to Boston's Back Bay as Thayer was from Worcester and went to school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Thayer graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard in 1885.
De Wolf Hopper, the most famous performer of "Casey at the Bat" was married six times. His fifth wife was Hedda Hopper, the Hollywood gossip columnist. Their son was William Hopper who played Paul Drake on the Perry Mason television series.
In the sixth season of the CBS television show, "Northern Exposure," there was an episode entitled, "The Graduate"; in this show, one of the lead character's (Chris) thesis dissertation was, "Casey at the Bat - an Anti-Filiopietistic Metaphor for America's Role in Post-Cold-War-Geo-Politics."
In the famous lawsuit, "Flood v Kuhn," which initially challenged baseball's reserve clause, Supreme Court Justice Harry Backmun makes reference to "Casey at the Bat".
The Library of Congress lists on-line 39 "Casey at the Bat" titles in their collection.
In 1908, S.P. Clarence McDonald published "Casey - Twenty Years Later," in The San Francisco Examiner, in which Casey hit a game-winning homer for Bugville.
In 1967, famed mathematician Martin Gardner served as the editor of The Annotated Casey at the Bat. It contains 29 different versions, parodies and sequels to the poem.
In 1989, esteemed sports writer, Frank Deford released the novel, "Casey on the Loose, What Really Might Have Happened" in which he reveals what led up to Casey's strikeout and what happened after.
Amazon.com lists 18 "Casey at the Bat" titles including "Casey at the Bat" illustrated by LeRoy Neiman with an introduction by Joe Torre, published May, 2002.
In The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, published in the year 2000, the authors provide the following usage note for the word "former": "Grammarians have often insisted that the phrases the former and the latter should be used only to refer to the first of two things and the second of two things, respectively, as in Ernest L. Thayer's "Casey at the Bat": "But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake, and the former was a lulu and the latter was a fake."
On July 11, 1996, the United States Postal Service released a 32¢ stamp entitled "The Mighty Casey" as part of a block of four stamps saluting American Folk Heroes: John Henry, Paul Bunyan, Mighty Casey and Pecos Bill.
Greg Lundeen's bronze sculpture, "Mighty Casey," depicts a life-size Casey leaning on his bat is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY.
Esteemed Russian/American painter Morris Kantor's painting, "Baseball At Night," depicts the final scene in "Casey At The Bat".
Coincidentally, Chuck Connors who often performed "Casey" for his Dodger and Cubs teammates on the bus before going on to fame as TV's "The Rifleman" and Jerry Colonna who provided the voice over in the classic Disney cartoon are both buried in San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.
De Wolfe Hopper died September 23, 1935.
Ernest L. Thayer died August 21, 1940.
The Mighty Casey lives to this day.
Compiled by Bill Chuck.