Sunday Series: Poems and Poetry: Mighty Casey Has Struck Out!

Casey at the Bat

A Ballad of the Republic, Sung in the Year 1888

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that 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 Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

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

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

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

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed 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 umpire 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 umpire!” shouted some one on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire 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 his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clinched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his 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 favored 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;
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.
Born into a wealthy family in New England, Ernest Lawrence Thayer (1863—1940) attended Harvard University where he met William Randolph Hearst. Years later when Hearst took over the San Francisco Examiner, he took Thayer with him. Thayer was a journalist but also contributed a ballad to the Sunday editions. One ballad, which became an American classic, was “Casey at the Bat.”
It’s opening weekend of the Major League Baseball season....Enjoy! 
My son at the plate for his little  league team, the year my brother and I coached the team to the city championship:

No, he didn't strike out!

I f you can't figure out where I am in this 1950 something  team photo get some help:

We won the championship that year, City of West Haven, Connecticut.

That was when I played my best baseball  and why I still keep an eye on the game though not the avid fan I was when I was the kid who played ALL of the positions during his career.  

The newspaper clipping of the team photo. Have you found me yet?:

Views: 200

Comment by Ron Powell on April 2, 2016 at 9:50pm

No way I could resist the beginning of April and this poem.

Comment by nerd cred on April 3, 2016 at 5:41am

This is another one I loved hearing my dad read (or recite) as a kid. He always put a lot of style into it and we could all recite along with him.

I'm on the kindle so the pictures are tiny but could you be the little guy in back, all the way to the right?

Comment by Ron Powell on April 3, 2016 at 5:49am
How in the world did you manage to figure it out,
Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on April 3, 2016 at 5:58am

Words alone cannot express how much I hate that poem.  We had a 4th grade teach (Mrs. Beeson, if I remember correctly) who make us memorize that damn thing for an entire semester.  By the time the semester was over I would have gladly killed Thayer AND Mrs. Beeson, instead of the umpire.  (Rote memorization has destroyed more minds than drugs, IMO)

Comment by koshersalaami on April 3, 2016 at 6:09am
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and some are overjoyed;
But there is no joy on OurSalon - our Amy is annoyed.
Comment by Ron Powell on April 3, 2016 at 6:49am
@SBA; I'm convinced that one of the reasons why most people don't handle poetry very well is the fact that teachers like yours didn’t do well at teaching students how to appreciate it.

You don't "learn" how to appreciate poetry by being forced to memorize it. And, it's nearly impossible to memorize something that you don't or can't appreciate.

However, memorization of the multiplication table is another story entirely.
Comment by Ron Powell on April 3, 2016 at 6:52am
@Kosh; Why do you insist on shaking the hornet's nest?
Comment by Rosigami on April 3, 2016 at 7:06am

As a child, I knew the line There is no joy in Mudville well before I ever heard or read the rest of the ballad. My Dad used it, with a great sigh, whenever he managed to get on the wrong side of Mom. Usually it made her laugh, and all would be forgiven. They were good together when I was growing up. 

Comment by Ron Powell on April 3, 2016 at 7:08am


Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on April 3, 2016 at 7:21am

No worries, Ron.  This post has already been ruined for me, so I'll leave it be.  Just note why.


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