Casey at the Bat

Casey at the Bat is my original take on the iconic American poem of the same name, best known for its final line: “But there is no joy in Mudville, Mighty Casey has struck out.”

Set in 1888, in a rural town where baseball is revered, Casey at the Bat is a full-length family comedy that answers the following questions:

Who is Casey?

Why was he in Mudville?

And why did he strike out?

The play focuses on Casey (an aging superstar looking for a new team to play for), his brother Horace (who brings Casey to Mudville under false pretenses to help Horace pay off a large debt), the young widow Belle (whose skill with acupuncture plays a central role in the story) and Angus Smith, a scheming newspaper publisher who owns Horace’s debt and uses it to advance the baseball fortunes of his son at Casey’s expense.

“Our readers thought your play felt real and authentic in ways that made the famous poem feel like a real account of actual events.”
Matt Dy
Playwriting Competition Director, Austin Film Festival

The original poem

The poem has resonated with readers since it was first published in the June 3, 1888 issue of San Francisco’s The Daily Examiner and attributed to Phin, a pseudonym Ernest Lawrence Thayer used. 

The Daily Examiner, June 3, 1888.
Sports Illustrated, Just 18, 1888, pp.54-55.

Numerous Versions

Over the years, Casey at the Bat has inspired a multitude of versions, from theatrical recitations to recordings, feature films and cartoons.

Perhaps the person who is most responsible for making Casey at the Bat one of the most beloved and well-known poems in American history is the actor and singer DeWolf Hopper (1858-1935). Hopper, who had a booming voice, first recited the poem on August 18, 1888, on Thayer’s 25th birthday. It is said he ultimately performed the poem 10,000 times, often as an encore to a stage presentation. He also recorded a phonograph version.

One of the earliest recordings of Hopper’s recitation available on the internet is from June 16, 1909, in New York, USA.

In 1927, paramount Pictures released a silent film version, starring Wallace Beery, Zasu Pitts and Sterling Holloway. Disney produced a cartoon version in 1946. Fifty years later, as a sign of its enduring popularity, the Post Office issued a stamp to commemorate the mythical hero. And, in 1989, Frank Deford, a lauded writer for Sports Illustrated, spun his version of the tale in a book entitled Casey on the Loose.

Please contact the Playwrights Guild of Canada or the author to obtain a copy of the play. Amateur rights are negotiated by PGC. For professional rights, please contact the author.