Goatview Farm - The Saint Report www.goatview.com

 

May 13

On this day in 1888, according to one of my (misinformed) sources, DeWolf Hooper first recited "Casey at the Bat," by Ernest L. Thayer. I am giving you the whole poem here because it is part of your Cultural Literacy class, followed by a brief history. This is also printed in further celebration of Yogi Berra's birthday.

Casey at the Bat

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 pall-like 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 preceeded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake;
and the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake.
So upon that stricken multitude, grim melancholy sat;
for there seemed but little chance of Casey 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 five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
it rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
it pounded through 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 he stepped into his place,
there was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit 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 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 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 someone 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 dun sphere 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 has fled from Casey's lip, the teeth are clenched 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 little children shout,
but there is no joy in Mudville -- mighty Casey has struck out.

***

Ernest L. Thayer was one of William Randolph Hearst's Harvard Lampoon friends, brought to San Francisco by Hearst to help him with the San Francisco Examiner, the newspaper Hearst's father had given him.

Thayer wrote Casey and it was published in the June 3, 1888, edition, attracting little attention, though a writer named Archibald Gunter thought it interesting and kept a copy, later giving it to a friend of his, New York comedian De Wolf Hooper, as a possible amusing recitation. It was performed that August, when Hooper knew both the New York and Chicago baseball teams were going to attend his show.

And the rest is history. William Randolph Hearst was, though in a roundabout fashion, responsible for at least one good thing.

Saints with feast days of May 13 include Glyceria, Mucius (or Mocius), Servatius (or Servais)(invoked against vermin in general, rats in particular, and foot problems), John the Silent, Erconwald, Euthymius the Illuminator, Peter Regalatus, Boniface of Tarsus, Aglae, and many more.

What Euthymius illuminated is unclear in the literature. John the Silent spent 75 of his 104 years as a solitary. Peter Regalatus was "known for his austerities, ecstacies, and levitations."

Born today was Daphne du Maurier in 1907. Gary Cooper died at 60 on this day in 1961.

 

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Marilyn Jones 2000-2008