Skip to content using Screen Reader
Shopping Cart Shopping Cart
Back to Poetry

Casey at the Bat

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 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 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 has fled from Casey's lip, the 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 mighty Casey has struck out.

About Ernest Lawrence Thayer 1863 - 1940

Ernest Lawrence Thayer was a newspaperman who wrote a humor column for the San Francisco Examiner. The words for Casey at the Bat came to him at a baseball game in Stockton, California in 1888.

After seeing the poem in the Examiner, the novelist Archibald Clavering Gunter, clipped it out and showed it to his fiend, De Wolf Hopper, the popular entertainer.

At his Broadway show, Hopper was told that the audience included players from the New York Giants and the Chicago White Stockings. Hopper recited the poem to wild applause.

Over his career, Hopper claimed to have recited Casey at the Bat 10,000 times. Thayer was embarassed by the poem and never published another.

More about Thayer and Casey at the Bat.

About Babe Ruth 1895 - 1948

George Herman Ruth, Jr. was one of eight children, only two of which survived infancy.

His parents' work left no time to raise children, so at age seven he was given over to St. Mary's Industrial School for boys, a reformatory and orphanage.

Labeled "Incorrigible", Ruth was befriended by Brother Matthias, Prefect of Discipline, at the school. The Brother taught him sports and provided a good example for the rest of Ruth's life.

At age 19, Ruth signed with the Boston Red Sox's minor league team. He was known as "Jack's (the owner) newest babe."

Ruth pitched and played outfield for the Sox for six years before being (infamously!) sold to the Yankees.

In Game 4 of the 1916 World Series Ruth pitched 14 innings (13 of them scoreless) to win the longest complete game in World Series history.

In 1927 Ruth hit 60 home runs in 154 games, a record that stands today.

In Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, Ruth responded to heckling Cubs fans by first pointing to the center field bleachers and then hitting what is still believed to be the longest home run ever hit out of Wrigley Field, right where he pointed.

After retiring from baseball, Ruth gave talks in orphanages, hospitals, and on radio. He was one of the first five inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame. When he died, over 100,000 came to pay their respects.