There were maddened hearts in mudville for a month or even more;
There were muttered oaths and curses -- every fan in town was sore.
"Just think," said one, "how soft it looked with Casey at the bat!
And then to think he'd go and spring a bush-league trick like that."
All his past fame was forgotten; he was now a hopeless shine.
They called him Strike-out Casey from the mayor on down the line,
And as he came to bat each day his bosom heaved a sigh,
While a look of hopeless fury shone in mighty Casey's eye.
He thought of all the games he’d won with mighty arm and bat,
And remembered too the slumps he’d had when on the bench he’d sat.
He'd put his heart into the game, and now the fans had turned;
He felt their disappointment, and a simmering anger burned.
But the lane is long, someone once said, that never turns again,
And fate, though fickle, often gives another chance to men.
And Casey smiled -- his rugged face no longer wore a frown;
The pitcher who had started all the trouble came to town.
All Mudville had assembled; ten thousand fans had come
To see the hurler who had put big Casey on the bum;
And when he stepped out of the box, the multitude went wild.
He doffed his cap in proud disdain -- but Casey only smiled.
"Play ball!" the umpire's voice rang out; the crowd commenced to pray.
The first ball flew toward the plate; the game was underway.
But the innings passed that afternoon and the listless crowd grew ill
As the Dustburg batters one by one put them surely through the mill.
The hometown team hit grounders, foul balls and pop flies,
While from the stands came only silence and occasionally sighs.
There were several flubs at first base and a collision in left field,
And when the pitcher stumbled off the mound, the audience just reeled.
They’d cheered before, each Mudville boy and every Mudville man,
But in that throng of thousands there was not a single fan
Who thought that Mudville had a chance; and with the setting sun
Their hopes sank low -- the Dustburg team was leading four to one.
The last half of the ninth came round, with no change in the score;
But when the first man up hit safe the crowd began to roar.
The din increased, the echo of ten thousand shouts was heard
When the pitcher hit the second man and gave four balls to the third.
Three men on base -- nobody out -- three runs to tie the game!
A triple meant the highest niche in Mudville's hall of fame;
But there the rally ended and the gloom was deep as night
When the fourth man fouled to catcher and the fifth flied out to right.
A dismal groan in chorus came -- a scowl was on each face --
When Casey walked up, bat in hand, and slowly took his place;
His bloodshot eyes in fury gleamed; his teeth were clinched in hate;
He gave his cap a vicious hook and stomped upon the plate.
But fame is fleeting as the wind, and glory fades away;
There were no wild and woolly cheers, no glad acclaim that day.
They sat as silent as the grave as Casey faced the mound,
And took his heavy oaken bat and pounded on the ground.
The pitcher smiled and cut one loose; across the plate it sped;
Another hiss, another groan. "Strike one!" the umpire said.
The second curve floated in and broke just below his knee --
"Strike two!" the umpire roared aloud; but Casey made no plea.
No roasting for the umpire now -- his was an easy lot;
But here the pitcher whirled again -- was that a rifle shot?
A whack! A crack! And through the air the leather pellet flew,
A blot against the distant sky, a speck against the blue.
Above the fence in center field, in rapid whizzing flight,
The sphere sailed on; the blot grew dim and then was lost to sight.
Ten thousand hats were thrown in air, ten thousand smiles were lit,
But no one ever found the ball that mighty Casey hit!
Oh, somewhere in this favored land dark clouds may hide the sun.
And somewhere bands no longer play and children have no fun;
And somewhere over blighted lives there hangs a heavy pall;
But Mudville hearts are happy now -- for Casey hit the ball!