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Democracy at the bat: Post-Trump edition

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With apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer, the author—in 1888—of this famous poem, here is my updated, truncated, post-Trump 2016-election version of “Casey at the Bat.”

“Democracy at the Bat”

The outlook was quite rosy for Democracy that day;

The polls stood almost even, with the election on the way.

And then when Florida died at 10, and Ohio did the same,

A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

 

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest

Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;

They thought, “If Clinton gets Wisconsin or somewhere else Midwest,

The race will shift our way and our country will pass this test.”

 

But Michigan went down the tubes, and PA did as well,

And the former was a squeaker, while the latter felt like hell.

So upon the stricken multitude, grim melancholy hit,

For there seemed but little chance of Clinton finally making it.

 

…And as the night wore on and on, and 270 loomed near,

The world looked on in shock and awe and cried and shook with fear.

In living rooms and bedrooms, and in celebration halls,

The crowds fell mute, in disbelief, and ceased their victory calls.

 

…Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,

But there is no joy in Mudville: Democracy has struck out.

 

Here’s the original poem, so you can see which parts I plagiarized and which I parodied. This poem is in the public domain. It was first published–sandwiched between two editorials–on page 4 of the San Francisco Examiner. It went on to become one of Americans most famous–and most recited–folksy poems. In recent years, it’s been recited and recorded by famed sports commentators Frank DeFord and Ernie Harwell, by Garrison Keillor and  by Darth Vader–I mean, James Earl Jones, to name just a few.

Casey at the Bat

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:

The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,

A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

 

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest

Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;

They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that—

We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”

 

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,

And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;

So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,

For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

 

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,

And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;

And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,

There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

 

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;

It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;

It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,

For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

 

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;

There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,

No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

 

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;

Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his

shirt;

Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,

Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

 

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the

air,

And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.

Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—

“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.

 

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled

roar,

Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;

“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;

And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his

hand.

 

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;

He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;

He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;

But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, “Strike two!”

 

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered

“Fraud!”

But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles

strain,

And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

 

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,

He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,

And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

 

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children

shout,

But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

 

Gloria Shur Bilchik Gloria Shur Bilchik (628 Posts)

Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of democratic values and progressive programs as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.