Casey at the Bat:

A Centennial Edition

Things aren’t looking promising for the Mudville Nine: it’s the bottom of the ninth with two outs, and they’re trailing 4–2. But Flynn blasts a single, and Blake tears the cover off the ball, and when the dust lifts, there are runners hugging second and third, and Mighty Casey is stepping into the box.

Few passions have created more myths in the American mind than baseball, and no poem has captured its lure or lore better than Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s beloved “Casey at the Bat.” Here is the classic edition; newly set, illustrated with full-color watercolors by Barry Moser (America’s premier artist of the book), and containing an afterword by the irrepressible Donald Hall, whose affectionate and affecting essay celebrates the poem, its hero, and that searing moment in each of our lives when, in front of all those we hold dear, we manage to strike out.

This handsome edition of our national ballad will bring the drama of Casey to life in a vivid and memorable volume. Take it home, read it aloud to your children, bury yourself in its cadences, and relive once again that fateful afternoon when Casey steps up to the plate and the summer air is shattered by the force of his blow.

“Casey at the Bat” first appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on Sunday, June 3, 1888. It was written by a Massachusetts man, a young Harvard graduate named Ernest Lawrence Thayer, for a column he’d undertaken for the new publisher of the Examiner, his college chum William Randolph Hearst.

Ernest Thayer, writer of “the single most famous baseball poem ever written,” was a true son of Massachuetts; he was born in Lawrence, grew up in Worcester, and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where he edited the Harvard Lampoon and acted in the theatrical society Hasty Pudding. Thayer wrote “Casey” while writing the humor column at The San Francisco Examiner, a position he received thanks to his Harvard friendship with the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Despite the West-Coast publication, “Casey” retained its author’s connection to Massachusetts; the protagonist is said to be based on the Boston baseball star King Kelly.

Barry Moser has the technical virtuosity to pull more out of a piece of wood than any other contemporary wood engraver,” claims American Book Collector. His work is in museum collections, from the National Gallery of Art to the Metropolitan Museum, and the Vatican Library. He lives with his wife in Western Massachusetts. He is also the author of In the Face of Presumptions, as well as the illustrator of A Year with Emerson and Casey at the Bat.