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Ernest Lawrence Thayer was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on August 14, 1863, and raised in Worcester. The son of a wealthy mill owner, he was expected to enter the family business. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1885, with a degree in philosophy. At Harvard, he edited the Harvard Lampoon.
One of Thayer's fellow editors at the Lampoon was William Randolph Hearst, and upon their graduation Hearst offered Thayer a position as humor columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. Thayer accepted and, between 1886 and 1888, contributed numerous pieces under the pen name Phin. He returned to the family mills in Massachusetts in February 1888, but continued to send pieces to Hearst for several years.
In 1912, Thayer moved to Santa Barbara, married Rosalind Buel Hammett, and retired from both writing and mill operations. He died in 1940.
Casey at the Bat
On June 3, 1888, the Examiner published a humorous poem entitled Casey at the Bat. Originally received with little fanfare, the poem suddenly became famous when, on August 14, 1888, stage performer William De Wolf Hopper staged a comic performance of the poem after a baseball game between the Chicago White Stockings and the New York Giants. The performance made both Hopper and the poem famous, but it would be a few years before the author of the poem would himself become famous.
Hopper performed Casey at the Bat many times over, almost always to rave reviews, but never knew who the author was. Finally, in the early 1890's, he was invited to meet the man who had helped him become famous, Ernest Lawrence Thayer. Although Hopper would later say that Thayer's rendition of Casey left a lot to be desired, he left the meeting with little doubt that Thayer was indeed the man who had written the poem. Questions surrounding who Casey was based upon, as well as which team the Mudville Nine was supposed to represent, were never answered, however.
Casey at the
The outlook wasnt
brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
A straggling few got up to
go in deep despair. The rest
But Flynn preceded Casey,
as did also Jimmy Blake,
But Flynn let drive a
single, to the wonderment of all,
Then from 5,000 thoats and
more there rose a lusty yell;
There was ease in Casey's
manner as he stepped into his place;
Ten thousand eyes were on
him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
And now the
leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
From the benches, black
with people, there went up a muffled roar,
With a smile of Christian
charity great Casey's visage shone;
the maddened thousands, and echo answered
The sneer is gone from
Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
Oh, somewhere in this
favored land the sun is shining bright;
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This page was last updated on 05/27/2017.