Friday, August 22, 2014

The Real Casey, The Real Servant

19th C ballplayer Dan Casey claimed to be the Casey about whom Ernest L. Thayer wrote his famous poem, "Casey at the Bat." Casey was given a parade honoring him as the famed "Casey," was featured on a national radio broadcast, and participated in a "re-enactment" of "Casey at the Bat" when he was age 78. The poem's author denied that his work was based on any real player, and several sources have called Casey's claim into doubt. Casey had a career batting average of .162 and one home run.
Well, there's a reason for suspicion he might not be Mighty Casey right there.
In February 1943, a columnist in The Sporting News described Casey's claim to be Thayer's inspiration as a "myth" and wrote: "Thayer ... always declared he had no particular player in mind as his hero. But despite this evidence, original 'Caseys' continue to appear, including Daniel, who was the most persistent and told the story so often he unquestionably came to believe it (italics mine)
It remains me of Mark Twain's short biography of General Washington's Negro Body-Servant, a man who died repeatedly before and throughout Twain's lifetime. Mr. Clemens eventually concluded:
P.S. -- I see by the papers that this infamous old fraud has just died again, in Arkansas. This makes six times that he is known to have died, and always in a new place. The death of Washington's body-servant has ceased to be a novelty; it's charm is gone; the people are tired of it; let it cease.

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