A Little Bit About “Casey At The Bat”


On June 3, 1888 Casey At The Bat was published in the San Francisco Examiner. Ernest Lawrence Thayer who studied philosophy at Harvard wrote it. William Randolph Hearst’s father owned the Examiner and Thayer and William Randolph Hearst’s were classmates at Harvard. Thayer started writing for the Examiner in 1886. He wrote a series of ballads under the by-line “Phin.” At Harvard he was called “Phinney.” Fans chuckled at the ballad it was reprinted but forgotten by many.

In the late 1888s William De Wolf Hopper, a young comedian appearing in a comic opera on Broadway memorized the ballad and delivered it on stage. Pop Anson’s Chicago White Stockings attended this performance. Hopper made the recitation a permanent part of his act.


A little bit about Hopper.

Hedda Hopper was the fifth of six wives and William Hopper his only child by Hedda played Paul Drake in the Perry Mason show.

Editors who thought they could improve the original changed reprints. The New York Sporting Times July 29,1888 changed Mudville to Boston and Casey to Mike “King” Kelly.

Later many Casey’s that played baseball in the 1800s sometimes claimed they were the player in the ballad. Thayer denied he did not have any player in mind.

A George Whitefield D’Vys signed a notarized document in 102 that he had written Casey At The Bat. Later Hopper stated he did not know who wrote it until about five years after he started using it.

Two silent movies were made. The first starred Hopper and a remake with Wallace Berry and Zasu Pitts released by Paramount on April 17,1927.

There was a Walt Disney animated cartoon in 1946. Disney followed in 1953 with “Casey Bats Again.”

This cartoon tells how Casey organized a girl’s baseball team dressed as a girl and batted in the winning run. There was an opera “The Mighty Casey” had its premiere in Hartford, Connecticut, May 4, 1953.

The Casey story is very complicated but could be typical of today’s times. A New York Yankee batter striking out against a Detroit Tiger pitcher and someone trying to get credit for someone else’s work.

And that’s the way many people saw it over a 100-year period.

The Waynedale News Staff

Denver Howard

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