Thorn: The inspiration for ‘Casey at the Bat’

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on June 3, 2015:

Let’s play two! Having just posted Mikhail Horowitz’s Kessler at the Bat, I thought I’d set some thoughts down about the wellspring of its inspiration. In art we exalt the heroic, sometimes the ordinary, but never—well, hardly ever—do we find a ballad or portrait or bust that celebrates, well, a bust. The glorious exception is Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s Casey at the Bat.

Thayer was born into a well-to-do family in Lawrence, Massachusetts; his father owned a woolens mill. He studied philosophy at Harvard, graduated magna cum laude, and served as editor of the Lampoon, whose business manager for a time was William Randolph Hearst. After expulsion from Harvard, Hearst was given the editorship of the newspaper his father had just purchased, The San Francisco Examiner. Hearst invited Thayer to contribute a humor column, which he did, under the name “Phin,” for the better part of two years. On June 3, 1888, The Examiner published Phin’s final effort, the rollicking ballad soon to be known across the land.

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Originally published: June 3, 2015. Last Updated: June 3, 2015.