SI Vault
Frank Deford
July 18, 1988
AMAZING FINISH! Mighty Casey Fans Slugger Didn't Arrive Till Seventh Inning Beautiful, Evil Woman Seen In His Company WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT Sun Still Shining Bright At Undisclosed U.S. Site
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July 18, 1988

Huge Commotion In Mudville

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The Mudvilles had never drawn so many people, and it was only May. Word of the Mighty Casey had even reached Boston, and because the Beaneaters were away on a western swing, a few cranks took the train out from the city. Ernest Thayer, Harvard '85, a frustrated poet who was resigned to working in one of the family's woolen mills, came in from Worcester. Flossie snuck away from the house late in the day and was at the Grounds for the eighth inning of the second game, in time to see Casey at the bat for the last time.

Hughie Barrows was on second and Johnny Flynn on first, and Casey knocked them both in with a ground rule double that rolled into a French horn in centerfield. The crowd went berserk. The score didn't mean anything now. In fact, baseball didn't matter. It was mostly a matter of pride. Not only did the people of Mudville have a hero, but they also were made heroic, touched by him.

However, all Flossie could see was that glorious, innocent face on second base: Casey, standing there, his cap off, waving to the throng, beaming. Practically all the players wore mustaches, and many of them bushy sideburns to boot. But Casey was apart. His face was as clean as it was bright, his eyes clear blue, his hair the color of a base path, his uniform happily dirty. Not poverty dirty or grubby dirty, but boyishly dirty, good dirty, thought Flossie. God, but Casey was clean. The tears poured down Flossie's cheeks. She was so in love, and maybe even better, she knew Casey loved her, too.

In the stands back of third base Thayer turned to a friend. "You know," he said, "there's that song about King Kelly."

"You mean Slide, Kelly, Slide?"

"Right. And there's that barroom rhyme for John L." Thayer recited from memory:

His colors are the Stars and Stripes.
He also wears the green.
And he's the greatest slugger that
The ring has ever seen.
No fighter in the world can beat
Our true American:
The champion of all champions,
John L. Sullivan!

"Pretty good memory, Ernest."

"Yeah, well this guy Casey deserves even more. He deserves an epic poem. I think I'll come back out here Saturday."

On second base, Casey put his cap back on, and when he did, it was as if he caught a sunbeam in it and the rays wreathed his head in amber. Then he hitched up his pants and took a long lead off second.

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