Ernest Thayer

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Ernest Thayer
Ernest Thayer.jpg
Born(1863-08-14)August 14, 1863
Lawrence, Massachusetts
DiedAugust 21, 1940(1940-08-21) (aged 77)
Santa Barbara, California
Pen namePhin
OccupationPoet
NationalityAmerican
SpouseRosalind Buel Hammett
PartnerRose Washington
ChildrenJillian Thayer

Ernest Lawrence Thayer ( /ˈθər/ ; August 14, 1863 – August 21, 1940) was an American writer and poet who wrote the poem "Casey" (or "Casey at the Bat"), which is "the single most famous baseball poem ever written" according to the Baseball Almanac, [1] and "the nation’s best-known piece of comic verse—a ballad that began a native legend as colorful and permanent as that of Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan." [2]

American literature is literature written or produced in the United States of America and its preceding colonies. Before the founding of the United States, the British colonies on the eastern coast of the present-day United States were heavily influenced by English literature. The American literary tradition thus began as part of the broader tradition of English literature.

Casey at the Bat baseball poem written during 1888 by Ernest Thayer

"Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888" is a baseball poem written in 1888 by Ernest Thayer. First published in The San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888, it was later popularized by DeWolf Hopper in many vaudeville performances. It has become one of the best-known poems in American literature. The poem was originally published anonymously.

Baseball Almanac is an interactive baseball encyclopedia with over 500,000 pages of baseball facts, research, awards, records, feats, lists, notable quotations, baseball movie ratings, and statistics. Its goal is to preserve the history of baseball.

Contents

Biography

Thayer was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and raised in nearby Worcester. He graduated magna cum laude in philosophy from Harvard University in 1885, where he had been editor of the Harvard Lampoon and a member of the theatrical society Hasty Pudding. William Randolph Hearst, a friend from both activities, hired Thayer as humor columnist for The San Francisco Examiner 1886–88. [2]

Lawrence, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Lawrence is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States, on the Merrimack River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 76,377, which had risen to an estimated 78,197 as of 2014. Surrounding communities include Methuen to the north, Andover to the southwest, and North Andover to the southeast. Lawrence and Salem were the county seats of Essex County, until the Commonwealth abolished county government in 1999. Lawrence is part of the Merrimack Valley.

Worcester, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Worcester is a city in, and the county seat of, Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Named after Worcester, England, as of the 2010 Census the city's population was 181,045, making it the second most populous city in New England after Boston. Worcester is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) west of Boston, 50 miles (80 km) east of Springfield and 40 miles (64 km) north of Providence. Due to its location in Central Massachusetts, Worcester is known as the "Heart of the Commonwealth", thus, a heart is the official symbol of the city. However, the heart symbol may also have its provenance in lore that the Valentine's Day card, although not invented in the city, was mass-produced and popularized by Esther Howland who resided in Worcester.

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

During my brief connection with the Examiner, I put out large quantities of nonsense, both prose and verse, sounding the whole newspaper gamut from advertisements to editorials. In general quality "Casey" (at least in my judgment) is neither better nor worse than much of the other stuff. Its persistent vogue is simply unaccountable, and it would be hard to say, all things considered, if it has given me more pleasure than annoyance. The constant wrangling about the authorship, from which I have tried to keep aloof, has certainly filled me with disgust. [2]

Ernest Thayer

Thayer's last piece, dated June 3, 1888, was a ballad entitled "Casey" ("Casey at the Bat") which made him "a prize specimen of the one-poem poet" according to American Heritage. [2]

A one-hit wonder is any entity that achieves mainstream popularity, often for only one piece of work, and becomes known among the general public solely for that momentary success. The term is most commonly used in regard to music performers with only one top-20 hit single that overshadows their other work. Sometimes, artists dubbed "one-hit wonders" in a particular country have had great success in other countries. Music artists with subsequent popular albums and hit listings are typically not considered a one-hit wonder. One-hit wonders usually see their popularity decreasing after their hit listing and most often don't return to hit listings with other songs or albums.

American Heritage is a magazine dedicated to covering the history of the United States of America for a mainstream readership. Until 2007, the magazine was published by Forbes. Since that time, Edwin S. Grosvenor has been its publisher. Print publication was suspended early in 2013, but the magazine relaunched in digital format with the Summer 2017 issue after a Kickstarter campaign raised $31,203 from 587 backers. The publisher stated it also intended to relaunch the magazine's sister publication Invention & Technology, which ceased print publication in 2011.

It was not until several months after the publication of the poem that Thayer became famous for it, since he was hardly the boastful type and had signed the June 24 poem with the nickname "Phin" which he had used since his time as a writer for the Harvard Lampoon. [1] Two mysteries remain about the poem: whether Casey and Mudville were based on a real person or place, and, if so, their actual identities. On March 31, 2007, Katie Zezima of The New York Times wrote an article called "In 'Casey' Rhubarb, 2 Cities Cry 'Foul!'" on the competing claims of two towns to such renown: Stockton, California, and Holliston, Massachusetts. [3] On the possible model for Casey, Thayer dismissed the notion that any single living baseball player was an influence. However, late 1880s Boston star Mike "King" Kelly is likely as a model for Casey's baseball situations. Besides being a native of a town close to Boston, Thayer, as a San Francisco Examiner baseball reporter in the off-season of 1887–88, covered exhibition games featuring Kelly. During November 1887, some of his reportage about a Kelly at-bat has the same ring as Casey's famous at-bat in the poem. A 2004 book by Howard W. Rosenberg, Cap Anson 2: The Theatrical and Kingly Mike Kelly: U.S. Team Sport's First Media Sensation and Baseball's Original Casey at the Bat, reprints a 1905 Thayer letter to a Baltimore scribe who was asking about the poem's roots. In the letter, Thayer named Kelly (d. 1894), as having shown "impudence" in claiming to have inspired it. Rosenberg argues that if Thayer still felt offended, Thayer may have later denied Kelly as an influence. Kelly had also performed as a vaudeville actor, and recited the poem dozens of times.

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

Stockton, California City in California, United States

Stockton is the county seat of San Joaquin County in the Central Valley of the U.S. state of California. Stockton was founded by Captain Charles Maria Weber in 1849 after he acquired Rancho Campo de los Franceses. The city is named after Robert F. Stockton, and it was the first community in California to have a name not of Spanish or Native American origin. The city is located on the San Joaquin River in the northern San Joaquin Valley and had an estimated population of 320,554 by the California Department of Finance for 2017. Stockton is the 13th largest city in California and the 63rd largest city in the United States. It was named an All-America City in 1999, 2004, 2015 and again in 2017.

Holliston, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Holliston is a New England town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States in the Greater Boston area. The population was 13,547 at the 2010 census, and in 2016, the population was 14,556. It is part of the Massachusetts region, located due west of Boston, that is known as the MetroWest. Holliston is the only town in Middlesex County that borders both Norfolk and Worcester counties.

Illustration of "Casey at Bat" Casey at the Bat pg 19.jpg
Illustration of "Casey at Bat"

The first public performance of the poem was on August 14, 1888, by actor De Wolf Hopper, on Thayer's 25th birthday. Thayer's recitation of the poem at a Harvard class reunion in 1895 helps solve the mystery, which lingered into the 20th century, of who had written it.

During the mid-1890s, Thayer contributed several other comic poems for Hearst's newspaper New York Journal and then began overseeing his family's mills in Worcester full-time. Thayer relocated to Santa Barbara in 1912, where he married Rosalind Buel Hammett and retired. He died in 1940, at age 77.

Santa Barbara, California City in California, United States

Santa Barbara is a coastal city in, and the county seat of, Santa Barbara County in the U.S. state of California. Situated on a south-facing section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara's climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city has been promoted as the "American Riviera". As of 2014, the city had an estimated population of 91,196, up from 88,410 in 2010, making it the second most populous city in the county after Santa Maria. The contiguous urban area, which includes the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria, along with the unincorporated regions of Isla Vista, Montecito, Mission Canyon, Hope Ranch, Summerland, and others, has an approximate population of 220,000. The population of the entire county in 2010 was 423,895.

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.

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<i>The Harvard Lampoon</i> magazine

The Harvard Lampoon is an undergraduate humor publication founded in 1876 by seven undergraduates at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

King Kelly Major League Baseball player, manager

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Thayer may refer to:

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-- Lines 9–16, "Pikes Peak", the original name of Katharine Lee Bates' poem, first published on July 4 and later set to music and known as "America the Beautiful"

<i>Casey at the Bat</i> (film) 1927 film by Monte Brice

Casey at the Bat is a 1927 American silent film, directed by Monte Brice, written by Ernest Thayer based on the baseball poem of the same name, and starring Wallace Beery, Ford Sterling, ZaSu Pitts, and Sterling Holloway in his film debut. Surviving period advertisements indicate Eddie Sutherland may have been slated as director before Brice. A copy was preserved at the Library of Congress.

Dan Casey American baseball player

Daniel Maurice Casey was an American professional baseball player whose career spanned from 1884 to 1894 and 1899. He played in Major League Baseball, principally as a pitcher, over parts of seven seasons for four major league clubs. He saw his most extensive playing time with the Philadelphia Quakers, appearing in 142 games for that team from 1886 to 1889. He also appeared in 46 games for the Syracuse Stars in 1890.

Thomas Parker Sanborn American poet

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References

  1. 1 2 "Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Gardner, Martin (October 1967). "Casey at the Bat". American Heritage. 18 (6). Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  3. Zezima, Katie (March 31, 2004). "In 'Casey' Rhubarb, 2 Cities Cry 'Foul!'". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2008.