Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Search for Thayer

I must admit that I became fascinated with the man who created my legacy long after  he departed.

A fan must have sent me this blurb when Thayer passed away several decades after my ball playing had come to an end.

Thayer's recitation of it at a Harvard class reunion in 1895 may seem trivial except that it helps solve the mystery, which lingered into the 20th century, of who had written it. In the mid-1890s, Thayer contributed several other comic poems for Hearst's New York Journal and then turned to overseeing his family's mills in Worcester full-time.
Thayer moved to Santa Barbara in 1912, where he married Rosalind Buel Hammett and retired. He died in 1940, at age 77.
The New York Times' obituary of Thayer on August 22, 1940, p. 19 quotes comedian DeWolf Hopper, who helped make the poem famous:
"Thayer indubitably wrote 'Casey,' but he could not recite it.... I have heard many others give 'Casey.' Fond mamas have brought their sons to me to hear their childish voices lisp the poem, but Thayer's was the worst of all. In a sweet, dulcet Harvard whisper he implored 'Casey' to murder the umpire, and gave this cry of mass animal rage all the emphasis of a caterpillar wearing rubbers crawling on a velvet carpet. He was rotten."
So I made it my business to meet this character DeWolf Hopper, who I believe to this day, was making money each time he took the stage and used my name without my consent.

I heard he was a Hollywood type, so I put my friend, Spanky who knew anyone and everyone, to put out word that I was looking for him.

I think it was some hole in the wall bar in New York City when Hopper and I first met.

It didn't go well.

He was bouncing around the restaurant as if he was Tinker Bell, table hopping and pushing a dessert, I recollect was called Brown Betty.

When he returned to our table, he ordered such dessert and was flummoxed when he was advised that the eatery was fresh out.

With that, he took a napkin, wiped his long face and made a beeline to the front5 door.

I would never see him again.

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