Tuesday, June 3, 2008

1888 Casey at the Bat first published

"Casey at the Bat", subtitled "A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888", is a baseball poem written in 1888 by Ernest Thayer. First published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888, it was later popularized by DeWolf Hopper in many vaudeville performances.

In the poem, a baseball team from the fictional town of Mudville is losing by two runs with two outs in their last at bats, but they think they can win "if only" they could somehow get "mighty Casey" up to bat. Two weak hitters manage to get on base, and Casey comes to bat with the tying run in scoring position. The beloved Casey, Mudville's star player, is so confident in his abilities that he doesn't swing at the first two pitches, both strikes. On the last pitch, the overconfident Casey strikes out, ending the game and sending the crowd home unhappy.

The poem is filled with references to baseball as it was in 1888, which in many ways is not far removed from today's version. As a work, the poem encapsulates much of the appeal of baseball, including the involvement of the crowd. It also has a fair amount of baseball jargon that can pose challenges for translators.

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