Charlie Sprague, Pitcher, Chicago White Stockings. Click to enlarge. 19th Century Baseball at Old Bethpage, 04-29-07. Click to enlarge. 19th Century Batsman. Click to enlarge. 1864 Baseball Match - Eureka of Hempstead (NY) vs Knickerbocker Club (NY) at Old Bethpage, NY. Click to enlarge.

19th Century Baseball in the Media

Casey at the Bat

(As it was originally published.)

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 cling 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 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 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 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 some one in the stand;
And it's likely they'd had 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, 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 little children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville — great Casey has struck out.

— Phin

"Casey at the Bat," written by Earnest L. Thayer, first appeared in the San Francisco Examiner in the June 3, 1888 edition and was signed "Phin," which he used as his nickname. It was not until DeWolf Hopper gave the poem's first stage recitation did it become popular. On August 14, 1888, Hopper "performed" the ballad as part of the comic opera, Prince Methusalem, in New York's Wallack Theatre on Broadway and 30th Street. August 14th was also Hopper's birthday and in attendance that night were players of the New York and Chicago Base Ball Clubs of the National League. Earlier that day at the Polo Grounds in New York, Hoppers friend, New York pitcher Tim Keefe, had his personal 19 game winning streak ended by Chicago (sometimes referred to as the White Stockings), 4-2 in front of 10,240 spectators.

Known as the orator of the poem, DeWolf Hopper would recite Casey thousands of time before his death on September 23, 1925.

Listen to a 1906 DeWolf Hopper Performance of “Casey at the Bat”  Click here ro listen to DeWolf Hopper perform Casey at the Bat.

The Legacy Continued Continued.