Casey at the Bat
By Ernest Lawrence Thayer
Reader’s Theater Edition #23
Adapted for reader’s theater (or readers theatre) by Aaron Shepard
Script copyright © 1999, 2002 Aaron Shepard. Scripts in this series are free and may be copied, shared, and performed for any noncommercial purpose, except they may not be posted online without permission.
PREVIEW: It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day. . . .
CULTURE: American (late 19th century)
READERS: 8 or more
READER AGES: 9 and up
LENGTH: 4 minutes
ROLES: Fans 1–6 (“1”–“6”), Casey (“C”), Umpire (“U”), (Pitcher), (Flynn), (Blake), (Other Fans)
NOTES: Thayer’s poem was first published in the San Francisco Examiner, June 3, 1888. Versions common today, including this one, include changes by later authors. FANS serve as narrators and act as spectators. For best effect, place all FANS in the center. With its tongue-in-cheek melodrama, this poem works best if you ham it up.
1: It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day.
6: The score was two to four with but one inning left to play.
2: So, when Cooney died at second, and Burrows did the same,
A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.
5: A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest
With that hope that springs eternal from within the human breast.
3: For they thought, if only Casey could get a whack at that,
4: They’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.
1: But Flynn preceded Casey,
6: and likewise so did Blake,
2: And the former was a pudding,
5: and the latter was a fake.
3: So, on that stricken multitude a death-like silence sat,
4: For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.
1: But Flynn let fly a single to the wonderment of all,
6: And the much despisèd Blakey tore the cover off the ball.
2: So, when the dust had settled
5: and they saw what had occurred,
3: There was Blakey safe at second,
4: and Flynn a-hugging third.
1: Then from the gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell.
6: It rumbled in the mountaintops, it rattled in the dell.
2: It struck upon the hillside and rebounded on the flat—
5: For Casey,
3: mighty Casey,
4: was advancing to the bat.
1: There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place.
6: There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
2: And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.
5: Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
3: Five thousand tongues applauded as he wiped them on his shirt.
4: And when the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance glanced from Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
1: And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
6: And Casey stood a-watching it
2: in haughty grandeur there.
5: Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped.
C: “That ain’t my style,”
3: said Casey.
U: “Strike one!”
4: the umpire said.
1: From the benches black with people there went up a muffled roar,
6: Like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.
2: “Kill him! Kill the umpire!”
5: someone shouted from the stand—
3: And it’s likely they’d have killed him,
4: had not Casey raised his hand.
1: With a smile of noble charity great Casey’s visage shone.
6: He stilled the rising tumult. He bade the game go on.
2: He signaled to the pitcher,
5: and once more the spheroid flew.
3: But Casey still ignored it,
4: and the umpire said,
U: “Strike two!”
1: cried the maddened thousands,
6: and the echo answered,
1–6: (echoing softly) “Fraud.”
2: But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
5: They saw his face grow stern and cold,
3: they saw his muscles strain,
4: And they knew that Casey would not let that ball go by again.
1: The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip.
6: His teeth are clenched in hate.
2: He pounds with cruel vengeance his bat upon the plate.
5: And now the pitcher holds the ball,
3: and now he lets it go,
4: And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow!
(All FANS gasp.)
1: Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
6: The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
2: And somewhere men are laughing,
5: and somewhere children shout.
3: there is no joy
4: in Mudville.
1: Mighty Casey
1–6: struck out.