Casey at the Bat

Casey at the Bat


Description: EXTREMELY SCARCE FIRST BOOK EDITION IN ORIGINAL WRAPPERS. Ernest Lawrence Thayer, a humor columnist for The San Francisco Examiner, submitted ?Casey at the Bat? on June 3, 1888, after moving back to Massachusetts due to illness. It was the final ballad in a series published every other week. The initial response was minor; Thayer was paid five dollars and only a few papers in the east reprinted it. Then, that following winter, Archibald Clavering Gunter, a novelist, suggested to his friend William DeWolf Hopper, a comedian, that he memorize the poem for a performance attended by the New York Giants and Chicago White Stockings. ? Hopper recounts: ?When I dropped my voice to B flat, below low C, at 'the multitude was awed,' I remember seeing [the Giants? catcher] Buck Ewing?s gallant mustachios give a single nervous twitch. And as the house, after a moment of startled silence, grasped the anticlimactic d?nouement, it shouted its glee. They had expected, as anyone does on hearing 'Casey' for the first time, that the mighty batsman would slam the ball out of the lot, and a lesser bard would have had him do so, and thereby written merely a good sporting-page filler. There is no more completely satisfactory drama in literature than the fall of Humpty Dumpty.? The poem became Hopper?s most famous bit; he estimated he performed it over ten thousand times. ?By 1900 almost everyone in America had heard or read the poem, but almost no one knew who had written it. Hopper himself did not find out who the author was until about five years after he had begun reciting it.? Thayer emphatically denied that he had had any specific ballplayer in mind for any of the men mentioned in ?Casey.? He said, ?The constant wrangling about the authorship, from which I have tried to keep aloof, has certainly filled me with disgust.? Thayer also ?refused to discuss payments for reprintings of ?Casey.? ?All I ask is never to be reminded of it again.?? ?Friends said that toward the end of his life he softened a bit in his scornful attitude toward 'Casey.' By then T.S. Eliot had written an admiring parody of the poem, and even professors of English, notably William Lyon Phelps of Yale, had hailed 'Casey' as an authentic native masterpiece. 'The psychology of the hero and the psychology of the crowd leave nothing to be desired,' Phelps wrote in What I Like in Poetry. 'There is more knowledge of human nature displayed in this poem than in many of the works of the psychiatrist.'" (Martin Gardner, The Annotated Casey at the Bat) This is the first compiling in book-form of the classic American poem, featuring color illustrations and a dedication that reads: ?Dedicated, by special permission, to that jovial patron of the national game Mr. DeWolf Hopper.? New York: New Amsterdam Book Co., 1901. Octavo, original wrappers; custom silk box. Wrappers neatly detached (but secure under mylar), a few chips around the spine. Interior fine. A rare survival in the fragile original wrappers.
Artist or Maker: Thayer, Ernest
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