Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Casey at the Bat

Ernest Lawrence Thayer
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 the 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 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 despisèd, 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 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 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 favoured 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.

 The Parody of Same: Garrison Keillor
Casey at the Bat (Road Game)
by Garrison Keillor
Published: A Prairie Home Companion (February 14, 1994)
It was looking rather hopeful for our Dustburg team that day:
We were leading Mudville four to two with an inning left to 
We got Cooney on a grounder and Muldoon on the same,
Two down, none on, top of the ninth- we thought we'd won the game.
Mudville was despairing, and we grinned and cheered and clapped.
It looked like after all these years our losing streak had snapped.
And we only wished that Casey, the big 
fat ugly lout,
Could be the patsy who would make the final, shameful out.
Oh how we hated Casey, he was a blot upon the game.
Every dog in Dustburg barked at the mention of his name.
A bully and a braggart, a cretin and a swine-
If Casey came to bat, we'd stick it where the moon don't shine!
Two out and up came Flynn to bat, with Jimmy Blake on deck,
And the former was a loser and the latter was a wreck;
Though the game was in the 
bag, the Dustburg fans were hurt
To think that Casey would not come and get his just 
But Flynn he got a single, a most unlikely sight,
And Blake swung like a lady but he parked it deep to right,
And when the dust had lifted, and fickle fate had beckoned,
There was Flynn on third base and Jimmy safe at second.
Then from every Dustburg throat, there rose a lusty cry:
"Bring up the slimy greaseball and let him stand and die.
Throw the mighty slider and let him hear it whiz
And let him hit a pop-up like the pansy that he is."
There was pride in Casey's visage as he strode onto the grass,
There was scorn in his demeanor as he calmly scratched his --- [back]
Ten thousand people booed him when he stepped into the box,
And they made the sound of [belching] --- when he bent to fix his socks.
And the fabled slider came spinning toward the mitt,
And Casey watched it sliding and he did not go for it.
And the umpire jerked his arm like he was hauling down the sun,
And his cry rang from the box seats to the bleachers: Stee-rike One!
Ten thousand Dustburg partisans raised such a mighty cheer,
The pigeons in the rafters crapped and ruined all the beer.
"You filthy ignorant rotten bastard slimy son of a bitch,"
We screamed at mighty Casey, and then came the second pitch.
It was our hero's fastball, it came across the plate,
And according to the 
radar, it was going ninety-eight,
And according to the umpire, it came in straight and true,
And the cry rang from the toilets to the bullpen: Stee-rike Two.
Ten thousand Dustburg fans arose in joyful loud derision
To question Casey's salary, his manhood, and his vision.
Then while the Dustburg pitcher put the resin on the ball,
Ten thousand people hooted to think of Casey's fall.
Oh the fury in his visage as he spat tobacco juice
And heard the little children screaming violent abuse.
He knocked the dirt from off his spikes, reached down and eased his pants
"What's the matter? Did ya lose 'em?" cried a lady in the stands.
And then the Dustburg pitcher stood majestic on the hill,
And leaned in toward the plate, and then the crowd was still,
And he went into his windup, and he kicked, and let it go,
And then the air was shattered by the force of Casey's blow.
He swung so hard his hair fell off and he toppled in disgrace
And the Dustburg catcher held the ball and the crowd tore up the place,
With Casey prostrate in the dirt amid the screams and jeers
We threw wieners down at him and other souvenirs.
We pounded on the dugout roof as they helped him to the bench,
Then we ran out to the parking lot and got a monkey wrench
And found the Mudville bus and took the lug nuts off the tires,
And attached some firecrackers to the alternator wires.
We rubbed the doors and windows with a special kind of cheese
That smells like something died from an intestinal disease.
Old Casey took his sweet time, but we were glad to wait
And we showered him with garbage as the team came out the gate.
So happy were the Dustburg fans that grand and glorious day,
It took a dozen cops to help poor Casey away,
But we grabbed hold of the bumpers and we rocked him to and fro
And he cursed us from inside the bus, and gosh, we loved it so!
Oh sometimes in America the sun is shining bright,
Life is joyful sometimes, and all the world seems right,
But there is no joy in Dustburg, no joy so pure and sweet
As when the mighty Casey fell, demolished, at our feet.

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