June 3 ~  Heart and Mind of America Annotated Casey at the Bat

"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball." ~ Jacques Barzun

Casey at the Bat

The game of baseball, with its romantic "boys of summer" and "field of dreams," has captured the heart and mind of Americans for over a century.

On this day in 1888, the famous epic poem Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer (1863-1940), first appeared in the San Francisco Examiner. The poem became a popular bedtime story and a favorite with public speakers for its strong rhythm and drama. Thayer never accept royalties for it and only published the one poem.

But what a poem! Here's Casey's gripping tale:

It's the bottom of the ninth, runner at second and third, and the home team is losing 4-to-2. With two outs, star slugger Brian Kavanagh Casey comes to bat to save the day. With a count of 0-and-2, Casey swings... and misses.

The hero strikes out and Mudville loses, as the poem poignantly offered generations the powerful last line, "There is no joy in Mudville -- Mighty Casey has struck out."

The sport of baseball is a tapestry of players and fans, fair play and equality... luck, talent, memories, and dreams. It's the solid crack when the bat connects with the ball, cold beer and hot dogs, a no-hitter, the umpire wiping the plate, and the 7th inning stretch. The sport celebrates team playing, ethics, giving one's best, and more.

As poet Walt Whitman observed, "I see great things in baseball."

Or as former baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti eloquently explained about the game:

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring when everything else begins again and it blossoms in summer, filling the afternoons and evenings and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone."

"You count on it. Rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops."

More BASEBALL Quotations

Casey at the BatSwing with all your might.