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Casey at the Bat

From Academic Kids

"Casey at the Bat" (subtitled "A Ballad of the Republic") is a poem on the subject of baseball, written in 1888 by Ernest Thayer. It was first published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888 but was popularized by DeWolf Hopper in many vaudeville performances; Hopper gave the poem's first stage recitation on August 14, 1888 at New York's Wallack Theatre in the presence of the Chicago and New York baseball teams, the White Stockings and the Giants; August 14, 1888 was also Thayer's 25th birthday.

Premise and plot

The poem is about a baseball team from the fictional town of Mudville, who are losing during the last inning of a game but could win if they can last long enough to let "mighty Casey" get at bat. Casey, their star player, is beloved by the fans and so confident in his abilities that he doesn't swing at the first two pitches. As a work the poem encapsulates much of the appeal of baseball, including the involvement of the crowd. Although not well known in its entirety, the last verse has attained something of the status of a classic.

The last verse reads:

Wikisource has the full text of "Casey at the Bat".
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.

Other adaptations, as well as sequels

A month after the poem was published, a parody, "Kelly at the Bat," was published in the Sporting Times. The only changes from the original are substitutions of Kelly for Casey, and Boston for Mudville. Mike "King" Kelly, then of the Boston Beaneaters, was one of baseball's two biggest stars at the time (along with Cap Anson).

In 1897, Current Literature noted the two versions and said, "The locality, as originally given, is Mudville, not Boston; the latter was substituted to give the poem local color."

Based on Thayer's original, there have been two animated films by Walt Disney, Casey at the Bat (1946) which is a direct adaptation and Casey Bats Again (1954) where his daughters redeem his reputation. A parody of the original, replaying the same events from the perspective of the opposing team, was written by Garrison Keillor,

Several other parodies exist, one including Casey coming to the plate 20 years later getting his revenge and one taking place in Russia which ends with "Kasey" in a gulag prison.

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