In a recent segment for NPR’s Curiosity Desk, Edward O’Donnell, associate professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross, offered some insight into the famous poem “Casey At the Bat.” The poem, written by Worcester native Ernest Thayer and celebrating its 126th anniversary this year, is about a great Mudville slugger who strikes out at the bottom of the ninth inning to lose the game. “It has that wonderful vaudevillian character to it,” O’Donnell offers. “And it has such great overwrought wording, too: ‘the leather bound sphere.’ It has that sort of melodrama.”
For many years, no one knew who wrote the poem. “Once it reached a certain level of national notoriety, all kinds of people looking to make a buck fame forward and said, ‘I wrote it! I wrote it!’” says O’Donnell. After it was attributed to Thayer and the real Casey was revealed to be a student who had bullied Thayer in school, the mystery turned to the location of the real Mudville. Although Thayer had said that Mudville wasn’t based on any specific place, many towns still wanted the claim; Stockton, CA, and Holliston, MA, put up the biggest fight, one which is still ongoing today. Considered one of the most well-known poems in America since it was written in 1888, “Casey at the Bat” remains an active topic of conversation. O’Donnell asserts, “For what it is—a humorous, 52 line poem—it’s as close to perfect as you could possibly get.”
This is a “Holy Cross in the News” item by Evangelia Stefanakos.
For additional information, please contact Cristal Steuer at 508-793-2419.
‘Exploring an Institution’s Roots: Board Members Walk in a Saint’s Footsteps’
In the January/February issue of Trusteeship Magazine, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president of the College of the Holy Cross, reflects on the pilgrimage he led with a...02/12/15
‘The best U.S. colleges for a major in English’
USA Today reports that the College of the Holy Cross ranks ninth in the top ten places to get an English degree in the U.S. The list, generated from College Factual, is a...02/12/15
Holy Cross Among Top Producers of Fulbright Students
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The College of the Holy Cross is once again among the liberal arts colleges with the highest number of Fulbright students, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education,...