Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Birth of Casey

Casey was born on June 3, 1888 in San Francisco. 80 years later Casey was born again on the bus. My teammates had become accustomed to the life stories of Joe Christopher, the New York Mets outfielder who had become the continuing hero of a collection of stories which I recounted on endless travels to Huntington, North Babylon, Northport, West Islip, Commack, Lindenhurst and Brentwood. I tool it on myself to bring levity to this team and our coach went along with my one man show. And then I discovered Casey. Our newspaper on June 3 had Casey’s poem featured in that day’s sports section, marking its 80th birthday. I memorized the 575 word poem in Study hall. I had an eidetic memory. I offered no introduction. I had no time. This trip was one of our shorter ones for the season. I began The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day. A few scattered laughs. The score stood four to two with but one more inning to play. Suddenly my teammates began to gather closer as if they were crowding round the warmth of a fire on a brisk winter night. A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast. They thought if only Casey could get a whack at that. They would put up even money with Casey at the bat. Even Coach Ralph was now listening. I had them all in the palm of my hand and it was the greatest feeling I had ever had on stage or on the diamond. 45 tears later and I still perform Casey on stage for charity and groups. And each time it is as exciting as that first time—45 years ago.

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