Casey at the Bat

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Casey at the Bat is a sports poem written by Ernest Thayer, first published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888. It is widely considered the greatest sports poem in history.

The poem tells of a fictional baseball team (the "Mudville Nine")[1] who were down by two runs in the ninth inning. The team and the crowd (of 5,000) believe they can win if Casey, the team's star player, can get up to bat. However, he is not scheduled until the fifth batter of the inning: the chances diminish when the first two batters (Cooney and Barrows) are put out with the next two batters (Flynn and Jimmy Blake) perceived to be weak hitters with little chance of reaching base.

Surprisingly, Flynn singles, Blake follows with a double (Flynn going to third base on the play). With both runners now in scoring position[2] Casey can at least tie the game, or perhaps win it, with one swing. But being overconfident in his ability, he takes the first two pitches, both called strikes, then swings and misses on the third pitch, ending the game.

References

  1. In the early days of baseball, teams did not have mascots, but were commonly called "Nine" since there are nine players on a team, not counting the bench.
  2. Batters on second base and/or third base are said to be in "scoring position" as commonly, on a single, they will score.

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