Monday, June 3, 2013
Jun 3, "Casey at the Bat" turns 125! 1940 parody: "No joy on Wall Street"
On this day in 1888, America's best known piece of comic verse was first published in the San Franciso Examiner. It was later popularized by the vaudeville actor DeWolf Hopper who is said to have performed it 10,000 times.
The poem has become a cultural icon. During the 1940 presidential race, it inspired a political campaign song (and corresponding cartoon) entitled "Wendell at the Bat."
Republican Wendell Willkie was the Republican nominee fighting against the two-time Democratic winner Franklin Roosevelt. In the picture, a gleeful F.D.R. recalls Willkie’s debate (“he took de-bait”) with Solicitor General Robert Jackson. Meanwhile, Willkie, a fierce critic of F.D.R’s Tennessee Valley Authority "("dam dictator!"), misses another pitch, despite coaching from former president Herbert Hoover. There would be "no joy on Wall Street," the lyrics state, when the former industrialist strikes out, a call made by the umpire (the American people).
Below is the original poem in its entirety.
CASEY AT THE BAT
By 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 sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast
They thought, if only Casey could get but 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 lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's 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 the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon 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 on 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 gleamed 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 a-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 spheroid 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 favored 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.
Image from the Library of Congress.