Posts Tagged ‘Casey at the Bat’

Casey at the Bat Revives in Sugar Land

April 25, 2012

Deacon Jones, Late of the Mudville Nine, Now of the Sugar Land Skeeters.

Casey at the Batby Ernest Lawrence Thayer ©
Published: The Examiner (06-03-1888)

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 get but 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 despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the 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 someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-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 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 somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.

“Phin”

Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer ©

Thanks to Baseball Almanac.Com for this beautiful depiction of the famous Ernest Lawrence Thayer poem. “Casey at the Bat” was first published on June 3, 1888 in the San Francisco Examiner and went on from there to become the spinal rhyming spirit of all fans who have ever closely , and with great emotional attachment, followed the great American sport of baseball.

In baseball today, no one depicts the heart and spirit of the game any greater than the great Grover “Deacon” Jones of the Sugar Land Skeeters. The Skeeters begin their first season of independent league ball tomorrow night, April 26, 2012, before a home sell out crowd against the York (PA) Revolution behind former Houston Astro big leaguer and first Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti.

Watch the Chronicle and Internet for further details on upcoming games and come see the Skeeters for yourself as you are able. And look for old Deacon Jones walking around while you’re there at the Sugar Land ballpark. He’ll be the only one walking around the concourse with a bat in his hands. If the bat isn’t in his hands when you spot him, rest assured, it’s on his mind. Good hitting and genuine smiles are both a happy kind of habit thing with the good Deacon.

The world needs more people like him. Running into Deacon Jones unexpectedly is like all-of-a-sudden watching the sunburst breaking through the sky on an otherwise long and overcast charcoal cloudy day. I think the Good Lord puts sparks like the Deacon on this earth to keep the rest of us moving toward the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and touches of hope for something better. Always moving steady toward the truly good. And always reaching openly for the things that rest deep in the heart of soul.

Thank you, Deacon Jones, for being with us here in Houston and for becoming such a big part of the new Sugar Land Skeeters baseball club. We shall see you at the ballpark.

Strikeout Memories and Might Have Beens

March 28, 2012

No Joy in Mudville.

How could we ever forget poor Casey?

He was the disappointment to all of Mudville when he went down swinging in the bottom of the ninth at the climax of baseball’s greatest foray into poetic suspense, but his epic failure assured that we would all remember him until the crack of doom.

What if the same thing had happened to Bobby Thomson back in the famous third game of the 1951 playoff series at the Polo Grounds? After all, Thomson had almost the identical circumstances that faced Casey of Mudville on his equally famous moment. In both games, the teams of Bobby and Casey each faced imminent defeat in the bottom of the ninth by 4-2 scores – and each man came to bat with runners on first and third with a chance to end it all on one mighty connecting swing of the bat.

The big factual differences were that Thomson was baiting with only one out and facing  1-1 count when his big moment came. If Bobby failed, his Giants had another chance coming that would have placed rookie sensation Willie Mays clearly into the Casey spotlight with two outs. Dear Casey, on the other hand, had defiantly taken two strikes to put himself into the total swat or swish position that was coming at him on the 0-2 count. No one has ever argued that Casey had plans for working the count for a few balls. Even the sneer on Casey’s lips swore that he was going for broke on the third pitch he was about to see and that he would be taking no more called strikes on this late afternoon.

Well, we all know what happened from there. And neither man has ver been forgotten for what he each then left to the world as his legacy memory in baseball history.

Bobby Thompson fired “the shot heard ’round the world. New York Giant fans went out to bars and also home to celebrate their club’s miracle capture of the 1951 National League pennant.

Mighty Casey – struck out. The fans of Mudville went out to the bars and also home to cry over a few beers or a tap or two mug dips into the old whiskey keg.

The walk-off home run and the hope-killing K in your club’s last  time at bat in a game are both two of the most memorable moments in a baseball game.  Imagine how we might have remembered both these men differently today, had their outcomes been reversed.

Who would remember Bobby Thomson today, had he struck out back in 1951 and brought Willie Mays to the plate against Ralph Branca of the Dodgers? Would Branca have faced Mays? Probably. Would we remember what Mays did or didn’t do? You bet, but especially so, had it been either a home run or a strikeout.

How about old Casey? If he homers at the end of the poem, would we have long remembered the “Joy of Mudville” or simply written off the poem a long time ago as a hackneyed celebration of the heroic moment?

Here’s another HR/K situational  reversal to ponder in closing: It is October 15, 1986. The New York Mets have taken a 7-4 lead over the Houston Astros through the top of the 16th in Game Six of the National League Championship Series. The Astros rally, however, scoring two runs in the bottom of the 14th and, with Glenn Davis representing the tying run at second with two outs, Kevin Bass is coming to the plate to face the Mets nasty veteran lefty, Jesse Orosco.

Bass strikes out swinging, pulling away from a low pitch outside from Orosco. Game over. Mets take the NL pennant. The Astros will have no opportunity to go after the Mets with their ace – and New York’s nemesis – Mike Scott.

What if ….

What if Orosco’s pitch had been a little higher and closer to the plate?

What if Kevin Bass had guessed it was coming and been leaning out to reach it with the sweet spot?

What if Kevin had caught it well enough to send the pitch darting like a rising rope to right field?

What if we all first think it’s a line drive out? Then we think it’s going to be a game-tying double off the right field wall?

What if we finally see it dip over the wall for a game-winning home run?

What if a moment of shocked silence is quickly followed by the loudest roar in Astrodome history?

What if all this Astros-wishful wonder about Kevin Bass on that fateful day in 1986 had all been true?

…. If it had been so, where would Kevin Bass be today in our Hall of Greatest Astros Moments?

Caesar at the Bat, Part II

February 11, 2011

"Walk softly and carry a big stick." - Julius Caesar

In a never-ending fascination with most variants of “Casey at the Bat” that continually play their way through the theater of our collective baseball consciousness, here’s another one that has landed and begged to be blogged. It’s is similar to one that first wrote its way through me last September upon our return from Rome, but I like this one better. Unfortunately, the Muse ran away before this little dance received its just title and I am left with little more to say than – here is “Caesar at the Bat, Part II:” (by Bill MCurdy)

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Roman Guard that day:
 The score stood IV to II, with but one inning more to play.
 And then when Cassius died at first, and Brutus 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 Caesar could get but a whack at that -
We’d put up even money, now, with Caesar at the bat.

But Claudius preceded Caesar, as did also Marcus Tony, And the former was a lulu and the latter was a phony; So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat, For there seemed but little chance of Caesar’s getting to the bat.

But Claudius let drive a single, to the wonderment of all, And Marc, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball; And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred, There was Tony a-safe at second and old Claude a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the Forum, it startled Cleo’s cat; It knocked upon the Gates of Rome, and recoiled all idle chat, For Caesar, mighty Caesar, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Caesar’s manner as he stepped into his place; The fact we wore no pants, this day, caused a blush of mild disgrace. And then, responding to the jeers, he quickly plucked a leaf, and placed it where it ought to be, to sighs of great relief.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt; Five thousand tongues applauded, when he wiped them on, what – his shirt? Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip, defiance gleamed in Caesar’s eye, a sneer curled Caesar’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air, And Caesar stood a-watching it, in haughty grandeur there. Close by the sturdy batsman, the ball unheeded sped -
”That ain’t my style,” hailed Caesar. “Strike I,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar, Like the beating of the legion-waves – on a stern and distant shore. “Kill him! Kill the empire-spoiler!” shouted someone in the stand; and it’s likely they’d a-killed him too – had not Caesar raised his hand.

With a smile of Roman charity, great Caesar’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 Caesar still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike II.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and an echo answered fraud; But one scornful look from Caesar and the audience was awed. They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain, And they knew that mighty Caesar wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Caesar’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate; He pounds with august 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 Caesar’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright; The violins play somewhere, and somewhere wine pours light, And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; but there is no joy in Rome today – naked Caesar has struck out.

**********************************************

Other News: Lefty O’Neal, the author of “Dreaming in the Majors, Living in the Bush,” has asked that I inform everyone “that  my article started on milb.com today.” That’s all I can tell you on that one. You will have go to mlb.com and search it out.

Jimmy Wynn Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Deerbrook Mall, Tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 12th, 3-5 PM. Jimmy and I will be there to talk about his book and have Jimmy sign copies for book purchasers. If you can make it, please join us. Deerbrook Mall is located out 59N near Humble.



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