Casey at the Stat

By Ernest Thayer (annotated by Russell Frank)

This article was published in the Fall 2015 Baseball Research Journal.

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:1
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,2
And then when Cooney3 died at first, and Barrows4 did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair.5
The rest Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Casey6 could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”7

But Flynn8 preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,9
And the former was a lulu,10 while the latter was a fake;11
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat. 

But Flynn let drive a single,12 to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;13
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.14

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;15
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.16

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.17
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;18
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,19
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—20
“That ain’t my style," said Casey.21 “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;22
And it’s likely they’d have 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 dun sphere flew;23
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, “Strike two!”24

“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,25 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 bat26 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.27

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,28
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;29
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.30

 

RUSSELL FRANK’s baseball career began in the New York City suburbs, where he was a Mickey Mantle worshiper and a no-field, no-hit second baseman/rightfielder for Milk Maid Ice Cream, a Peewee League team. It ended 25 years later in Sonora, California, with Live Theatre, a slow-pitch softball team. While playing third base, he failed to get his glove up fast enough to catch a line drive, which caught him below his left eye, breaking the zygomatic arch. Asked by a concerned teammate if he knew his own name, the prostrate Frank said, “Well, it isn’t Brooks Robinson.” He has since retreated to the safety of the Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Journalism. And yes, he’s still a Yankees fan.

  • 1. Mudville’s Win Probability (WP) was 36.7% at game time.
  • 2. A home team coming up in the bottom of the 9th trailing by two runs has a Win Expectancy (WE) rate of 7.92%.
  • 3. Cooney’s slash line (batting average/on-base average/slugging average) was .272/.360/.361.
  • 4. .192/.292./.212.
  • 5. With two outs, Mudville’s WE had fallen to 1.34%.
  • 6. .302/.367/.447.
  • 7. Casey’s Win Probability Added (WPA) mark for the season stood at 1.31.
  • 8. .313/.328/.363.
  • 9. .252/.336/.324.
  • 10. Flynn was also said to be a hoodoo, that is, a bringer of bad luck.
  • 11. Blake was also thought to be a cake, that is, an easy out.
  • 12. Flynn attained a maximum speed of 20.4 mph running from home to first.
  • 13. Blake’s drive had an exit velocity off the bat of 99.5 mph, a launch angle of 15.4 degrees and a maximum height of 30.9 feet.
  • 14. Mudville’s WE had now risen to 14.13%.
  • 15. Peak stadium crowd noise is typically 130 decibels (dBA).
  • 16. Casey has a career slash line of .290/415/.552 with runners in scoring position (RISP).
  • 17. Studies show that smiling relieves stress.
  • 18. A metric that would quantify the sound of applauding tongues is “in development,” according to the Acoustical Society of America.
  • 19. The pitcher achieved a 5.8-foot extension of his body toward home plate at the end of his delivery.
  • 20. The Spin Rate of the pitch, a fastball, was 2,490 revolutions per minute (rpm). Its perceived velocity was 93.3 mph.
  • 21. Casey swings at 65.1% of pitches inside the strike zone.
  • 22. The only known case of umpicide occurred in 1899 in Lowndesboro, Alabama, when a player named Frank McCoy killed umpire Samuel Powell when Powell ruled his home run a foul ball. The call was not reviewable.
  • 23. Extension, 6.5 feet; Spin Rate, 2345 rpm; Perceived Pitch Velocity, 94.5 mph.
  • 24. The average player’s batting average with a two-strike count is .160.
  • 25. The average temperature of the human cheek is 32C.
  • 26. Casey’s bat was a 34-inch, 31-ounce Louisville Slugger.
  • 27. Mudville resident Grace Satterley, rocking on her front porch 1.37 miles from the ballpark, reported feeling the breeze from Casey’s swing.
  • 28. The Mudville forecast called for gloomy skies with a 46% chance of depressing afternoon showers.
  • 29. The lower end of the weight range for a human heart is about 8 ounces.
  • 30. As a result of Casey’s whiff, Mudville dropped below Youngstown, Ohio, as the unhappiest place in America in the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.