Thursday, June 03, 2010
When Ernest Lawrence Thayer's poem Casey at the Bat was first published (under the pseudonym Phin) by the San Francisco Examiner on this day in 1888, surely not even the poet himself could have foreseen the enduring firestorm of popularity his work would generate. In fact, it would be years before he would even break his silence regarding its authorship, so unwilling was he to be associated with doggerel despite its mass appeal.
Almost the moment it appeared, the poem became a phenomenon... Stage actor DeWolf Hopper (future husband of gossip maven Hedda Hopper) was the first to gather acclaim for his recitations of it in vaudeville, a tradition kept alive by Jackie Gleason on television four generations later; the poem has also spawned sequels and parodies galore ranging in tone from the manic iconoclasm of MAD Magazine to the gentle social satire of Garrison Keillor.
Disney released this animated version, narrated by Jerry Colonna, as part of its 1946 film Make Mine Music.
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