Ernest Lawrence Thayer's Casey at the Bat

Adapted by Manny Stiles

- A guy who knows; Yes, he's not the first to try this...

Casey at the Bat 2008

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;

The score stood fourteen to twelve, with but two innings more to play,

When the manager brought in a specialist reliever for each batter; the other did the same,

A non-McCarver-like silence fell upon the drunken patrons of the game.

A straggling few had just arrived due to apathy and bad traffic. The rest

Clung to the notion that their team was avoiding Congress and still cheating best;

They thought, "If only the human bobblehead Casey could but get a whack at that

We'd put up even money now (though gambling on baseball is frowned upon), with Casey at the bat."

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,

And the former was a Punch and Judy, while the latter, out of greenies was barely awake;

So upon that crowd of gouged wallets melancholy sat;

For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to use his bat.

But Flynn let drive a blast that was mis-fielded to the wonderment of all,

And Blake, ripped a swinging bunt, as the charging first baseman did trip and fall;

And when the pitcher fell over the first baseman, and men saw what had occurred,

There was Jimmy spiking the shortstop at second and Flynn spiking the guy at third.

Then from thirty five thousand throats and more there rose a mild yell;

It rumbled as the fans began the wave, it rattled A-Rod’s hair gel;

It echoed past the overpriced concessions and recoiled upon the $9 beers so flat,

For Casey, mighty Casey, was listening to his intro music advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he adjusted his giant elbow brace;

There was stanzinol in Casey's bloodstream and a little Clear smeared on his face.

And when, not responding to the cheers, for he cared for none of that,

Here came another specialist reliever, 'twas Casey at the bat.

Seventy thousand eyes upon him minus one-eyed fans; he spat upon the artificial grass.

Thirty Five thousand voices boomed with boos as his glare told them to kiss his ass.

Then while the HGH’d pitcher ground the ball into sandpaper on his hip,

Defiance flashed in Casey's tinted contacts, a sneer curled Casey's cocaine dusted lip.

And now the scuffed and Vaseline-covered sphere came tumbling through the air,

And Casey stood a-watching it expecting an intentional walk there.

Close by the ‘roiding batsman head the ball unheeded sped

"That’s pus, Meat," said Casey. "Ball one!" the umpire said.

From the benches, coaches were calling in bets, there went up a muffled roar,

Teammates from foreign countries in their native tongue doth swore;

"That call blows, you prick! Kill the umpire!" shouted some children from the stand;

And it's likely they'd have sent him e-mail viruses had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of recent bong hits, great Casey's red eyes shone;

In contempt of Casey’s super-human greatness, the ripped off patrons did moan;

He gave the bird to the pitcher, and once more the twirling pus flew;

But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said "Ball two!"

"Pussy!" cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered "Chicken!"

Casey flipped them all off too and the audience was stricken.

“Ball three” came fluttering as a feather, they saw his unnatural cranial muscles strain,

And they knew that Casey wouldn't get to use his corked bat again.

The observers chanted words of profanity, their signs all drenched in racism and hate;

‘Roid rage overcoming Casey, he pounded with cruelty his doctored bat upon the plate.

The pitcher holds the ball, the catcher stands with arm extended; the pitcher lets it go,

And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's head as it continues to grow.

Oh, somewhere in this cheating land the sun is shining bright,

A Governor is banging hookers, and somewhere a Mayor has rocks of crack a-light,

Somewhere men are getting busted for misdeeds as victim’s bodies are outlined in chalk;

But there is no joy in Mudville. Mighty Casey has been intentionally walked.

This year marks the 120th anniversary of this amazing tale of a Humpty Dumpty on a baseball field. The eloquence of word construction and build up for the ultimate downfall is a classic in American culture as well as poetry and prose of all forms.

If it wasn't for a little luck and the deep, booming voice of William DeWolf Hopper, this most famous poem of American verse would have likely been lost forever. Hopper was given the poem to read one night at a comic opera from a friend that enjoyed the poem - which was originally printed in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888 - and it was recieved with great tremendous applause and became an instant hit. Keep in mind, there was no radio, TV or internet then...


By the way, Mudville still loses in extra innings when the other team's catcher swing's at a third strike, pretends it wasn't caught and run's to first, and gets called safe even though he was clearly out by a mile; advances to second on a questionable balk, gets to third when he screams "I got it. Mine!" as a pop up gets dropped by the third baseman and then scores on error by first baseman Bill Buckner Jr. (one questioned still unanswered - why is the batter in this picture standing on the plate, backwards?)

Thayer was a Harvard classmate of William Randolph Hearst and editor at the Harvard Lampoon. When Hearst was kicked out of Harvard, his Daddy gave him the Examiner to run and he called upon Thayer to write for him. The rest is history.

Hopper went on to recite the poem over 10,000 times at exactly the same cadence and delivery - each lasting 5 minutes and 40 seconds.

  • Manny Stiles is a freelance writer, musician/recording artist and yes, a poet who has recited his own poetry many times in public including several times for actual, real, hard cash.

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