From Thayer to Gunter to Hopper

How Casey at the Bat Became Popular

Casey at the Bat is an enduring example of American baseball literature. Read countless times to countless children as they fall asleep; memorized and recited by countless orators to countless audiences, it is a tale that sinks deeply into the American soul. It is a story of failure.

Ernest Thayer wrote Casey at the Bat in May 1888. Under the pen name "Phin" it was first published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888. Sometime in late 1888 or early 1889 Archibald Clavering Gunter, who had visited San Francisco, gave to his friend, William De Wolf Hopper, a newspaper clipping of Thayer'sCasey. Thayer's ballad, which the novelist Gunter had the good sense to clip, was popularized, actually immortalized by the singer and comedian Hopper. By the turn of the century, the poem, it's authorship uncertain, was widely known.

Hopper recited the poem many many times and in 1906 he made the first of several recordings of his reading of the poem. Hopper starred in a silent film version of the poem in 1916. In 1920 music for the poem was written by Sidney Homer. Paramount pictures released a remake of Casey starring Wallace Beery as Casey in 1927. A Walt Disney cartoon called Casey Bats Again was released in 1953. Also in 1953 an opera called The Mighty Casey premiered in Hartford, Connecticut.

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