Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888

Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888

3.8 5
by Christopher Bing, Ernest L. Thayer, Christopher H. Bing, E. Bing Thayer
"And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; But there is no joy in Mudville-mighty Casey has struck out." Those lines have echoed through the decades, the final stanza of a poem published pseudonymously in the June 3, 1888, issue of the San Francisco Examiner. Its author would rather have seen it forgotten. Instead, Ernest Thayer's poem has taken a


"And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; But there is no joy in Mudville-mighty Casey has struck out." Those lines have echoed through the decades, the final stanza of a poem published pseudonymously in the June 3, 1888, issue of the San Francisco Examiner. Its author would rather have seen it forgotten. Instead, Ernest Thayer's poem has taken a well-deserved place as an enduring icon of Americana. Christopher Bing's magnificent version of this immortal ballad of the flailing 19th-century baseball star is rendered as though it had been newly discovered in a hundred-year-old scrapbook. Bing seamlessly weaves real and trompe l'oeil reproductions of artifacts-period baseball cards, tickets, advertisements, and a host of other memorabilia into the narrative to present a rich and multifaceted panorama of a bygone era. A book to be pored over by children, treasured by aficionados of the sport-and given as a gift to all ages: a tragi-comic celebration of heroism and of a golden era of sport.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Debut children's book illustrator Bing hits a home run with this handsome faux-scrapbook treatment of Thayer's immortal poem. The original verses about baseball start Casey and the ill-fated Mudville nine appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888, and Bing captures the spirit of the age with pen-and-ink illustrations that look like carefully preserved newspaper clippings, complete with slightly torn and yellowed edges. He uses cross-hatching and careful shading to create the pages of The Mudville Sunday Monitor, which keenly resembles the newspaper engravings of the day. Columns of type (in historically accurate printers' fonts, as and afterword points out) run beneath each illustration to bolster the conceit. Bing also scatters other "scrapbook" items throughout, from game tickets (a bargain at 20 cents) to old-fashioned baseball cards and stereopticon images many of them carefully keyed to the text. Full-color currency, for instance, accompanies "They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at that /We'd put up even money now with Casey at the bat," while an ad for Brown's Bronchial Troches appears with the couplet "Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;/It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell." Endpapers reveal more items to delight baseball fans and history buffs, from Thayer's newspaper obituary to a fake bookplate wreathed with baseball motifs. Though Casey and the Mudville nine strike out in the end, this exceptionally clever picture book is definitely a winner. All ages.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Penned in 1888, Thayer's classic ballad is still as fresh as a rookie pitcher; it has earned its place in the Read-Aloud Hall of Fame. Though the style is slightly formal and young audiences may not catch every word ("upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat"), no one will miss the gist of the tale. With a few brief strokes of his brush, Fitzgerald captures an era-a hat of a certain style, a pair of glasses, the cut of a suit-and his light-dappled acrylics seem aged by a fine patina. He manipulates perspective to wonderful advantage, bringing a sense of movement to the pages: readers are now in the stands, now at third base, now behind the catcher as the mighty Casey prepares to swing at the ball. A home-run effort. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly
"The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day"-but it certainly is for this robustly entertaining picture book, as Payne (Micawber) takes a swing at Thayer's beloved poem and knocks it out of the park. The tale of infield pomp and ignominy seems made-to-measure for Payne's statuesque characters, with their outsize noses and ears and florid faces. Standing head and broad shoulders above them all is the "mighty" (if overconfident) Casey; with his impressive porkchop sideburns and handlebar moustache, he looks every inch the Victorian gentleman-athlete. Payne injects a number of droll touches: a small inset of a gravestone enscribed "R.I.P. Cooney" accompanies the phrase "when Cooney died at first," for instance, while "defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip" occasions a batter's-eye view of a skinny and clearly terrified pitcher. For an ingenious take on Casey's approach to his at-bat ("Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;/ It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell"), Payne shows a spread of Mudville, and a farmer and his son listening to the uproar from where they are working on the mountainside. Entirely different in approach from Christopher Bing's starmaking turn with the same material, Payne's equally enjoyable outing is just the ticket for a front-row seat at literature's most famous ballgame. An afterword explains the poem's origin and history. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
"But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out." This ominous phrase has been part of America's favorite pastime, baseball, since its publication in 1888. It has come not only to symbolize the agony of defeat, but also the fall of any sport team's Goliath. The poem itself is a wonderfully suspenseful account of the bottom half of the final inning in an "all but over" game. Descriptions of this moment are so descriptive that actual jeers and cheers from the fans are heard by the reader. As players strike out and others gain position, one feels the passion of the moment and the belief in a miracle. This miracle is no other than mighty Casey. One cannot help holding his breath as poetic phrases detail the pitches to Casey. The conclusion is history. The illustrations accompanying this classic masterfully capture all the emotion and action of the words. The details are superb, from the cleats kicking up dirt to the smack of a baseball hitting a catcher's glove. The one close-up of Casey, steaming with determination, is magical enough for a reader's life-long understanding of shear will and grit. Whether a baseball fan or not, readers of any age will treasure this book. 2003, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers,
— Andrea Sears Andrews
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
The familiar poem is given a fresh look with Polacco's amusing artwork. It opens with a little girl reminding her brother that the big game will soon start and that he better get moving. Casey is filled with confidence and even though he arrives late and the ensuing game appears in jeopardy, he believes he can save the day. Polacco adds a real twist to the ending that will surely delight Little League and big league fans. 1997 (orig.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Thayer's famous poem, presented here in picture-book format, is still fresh and still filled with excitement and suspense. Fitzgerald's colorful, double-spread acrylic illustrations pit the greens and yellows of the field against the bright blue sky. The scenes are softened and blurred by the brushwork, which, along with the players' loose-fitting striped uniforms, infuses the book with the atmosphere of an old-fashioned, hometown game. Casey swaggers through the verses, a Babe Ruth-like figure in command of the crowd until the last terrible moment when he swings and misses. In his illustrations for Jack Norworth's multilayered Take Me Out to the Ballgame (Four Winds, 1992), Alex Gillman uses interesting facts from the history of the sport to add meaning to the poem. This new offering simply illustrates an old bit of popular culture, but it captures the thrill of the game, and baseball fans will enjoy it. It's pure entertainment.-Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Ilene Cooper
Libraries may own several versions of this perennial favorite but try to make room for one more--this one's a hit. Interestingly, it was first published in Great Britain, and though the illustrator hails from Manchester, England, he seems to have a handle on "Casey at the Bat." His sunlit art spreads expansively across two pages and contains both the physicality of the game and the magic of the crowd experience. Whether it's Casey coming up to bat, or the fans yelling, "Kill the umpire!" or that final, deadly swing, Fitzgerald's art transcends the text to express the emotion of the moment. An entertaining reminder of the national pastime in a baseball spring sans heroes.
Kirkus Reviews
Of the making of Caseys there seems no end, but here the illustrator of John Lithgow's Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000) delivers the chestnut with such broad, satirical panache that only the dourest of spoilsports will be able to resist going along for the ride. From the rows of bowler-topped gents in the stands to the well-groomed hairs in Casey's handlebar, every detail is both larger than life, and painted with crystal clarity. A mighty figure indeed, Casey strides to the plate with lordly assurance, casually takes two strikes, then gears up for the next pitch; Payne zeroes in on Casey's suddenly-choleric face-steam blasting from his ears-then pulls back to depict a whiff so prodigious that the batter's whole body disappears into a swirling blur. But a whiff it is, and a view of a deserted, muddy street captures the forlorn tone of the final verse. Finished off with a detailed account of the poem's history, this may not supercede Christopher Bing's Caldecott Honor-winning rendition (2000) for period flavor, but it does capture the episode's epic scale and perfectly tuned melodrama. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Product Details

Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x 12.25(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
3 Months to 12 Years

Meet the Author

Christopher Bing, whose first book, "Casey at the Bat," was named a 2001 Caldecott Honor Book, lives with his wife and three children in Lexington, Massachusetts, in a house directly on the Freedom Trail, the route on which Paul Revere rod

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Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The genre of this book is under the catogory of poetry. One day in 1888 in Mudville stadium, it was the ninth inning with their team down four to two. After two outs were made the fans wanted Casey to bat, but two batters went before him. The two batters get on base, and Casey steps to the plate with a chance to win the game for the home team. Did Casey get the winning for his team? Read to find out, this book is a must have for any sports lover. The reading level for this book is ages 4-8. Thayer, Ernest Lawrence copied by Bing, Christopher. Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888. New York: Handprint Books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Poetry: The book, Casey at the Bat (A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888), was an interesting rhyming book for children. It kept my attention as I read from page to page. It actually had me wondering what would happen on the next page. I liked the book very much and would read it again. I think children will find interest in the topic, especially those who play sports. I liked the fact that the pages had newspaper clippings for it¿s background with information on them from that time period. The book will be able to teach kids more about this time period Ernest Thayer was born in Lawrence, Massacusetts and raised in Worcester. He graduated magna cum laude in philosophy from Harvard in 1885, where he was editor of the Harvard Lampoon. Its business manager,William Randolph Hearst hired Thayer as humour columnist for the San Francisco Examiner 1886-88.Thayer¿s last piece, dated June 3, 1888, was a ballad entitled 'Casey' ('Casey at the Bat').It took two decades for the poem to make Thayer famous, as he was hardly the boastful type and had signed the June 3 poem with the nickname 'Phin'. Two mysteries remain about the poem: who, if anyone, was the model for the title character and whether Thayer had a real-life 'Mudville' in mind when he included Mudville as the poem's mythical town. On March 31, 2004, Katie Zezima of The New York Times penned an article called 'In 'Casey' Rhubarb, 2 Cities Cry 'Foul!'' on the competing claims of two towns to such renown: Stockton, California, and Holliston, Massachusetts. He moved to Santa Barbara in 1912, where he married Rosalind Buel Hammett and retired. Thayer died in 1940, at age 77. Casey at the Bat (A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888), book is about a baseball game that a player named Casey was at bat. The Casey team was known as the ¿Mudville Nine¿. The game was not looking good for them at all. Players were striking out and they were behind with only one more inning to play. Everyone thought if Casey got up to bat they could win. But, their hope faded away when they realized two more batters were before Casey that did not have a chance. To everyone¿s surprise the two batters got on base, one on second the other on third. Casey got up to bat with everyone in the stands ecstatic. Casey let the first two pitches go by without a swing. Then when the third ball came Casey swung. The crowd became in shock and disappointed. The impossible had happened that they thought never could. ¿And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred, There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third¿. This is the part of the book where the crowd was amazed the two batters before Casey had gotten on base. They had actually hit the ball. ¿And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout But there is no joy in Mudville---Mighty Casey has struck out¿. This is the end of story where Casey strikes out and the crowd is in shock he did so. Thayer, Ernest Lawrence. Casey at the Bat (A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888). New York: Handprint Books, 2000. Grade Level: 3rd
Guest More than 1 year ago
Casey at the Bat, written by Ernest Lawerence Thayer and illustrated by Chistopher Bing, is presented as a scrapbook of newspaper articles, baseball tickets and other memorabilia from over one hundred years ago. Bing's wonderful illustrations do a great job of bringing the past alive and showing kids who love the game of baseball, how it all started. Although, children may not appreciate the illustrations as much as an adult would. Bing turns thayer's poem into a picture book full of drawings that take you back to the time of 1888. The realistic pen and pencil drawings captures the readers eyes and may cause them to look at the pictures rather than read the story. Throughout the story Thayer makes Casey a big man that everyone has confidence that he will be able to win the game for the Mudville nine. Things were not looking so well for them but the crowd knew that Casey would be to bat and they would put money on it that he would win the game for them. The story goes to show that there are heros and everyone may have their dreams but along with dreams many dissappointments may come, Mighty Casey had struck out! Casey at the Bat was a Caldecott Award winning book, and was also Bing's first children's book to illustrate. His illustrations made you as a reader come to see baseball in 1888. The book is for anyone age six or older.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a Caldecott Honoree in 2001 for its outstanding illustrations. That award is richly deserved by this remarkable work whose images will remind you of a Hartnett album. Mr. Christopher Bing has reconceptualized 'Casey at the Bat' from being a poem that appeared in the June 3, 1888 edition of the San Francisco Examiner into an imaginary news story with drawings and artifacts in 'The Mudville Sunday Monitor' of the same date. In that reframing, the classic poem takes on a greater life and significance for fans of the poem. Each page in this brief book resembles the yellowed file copies of that old newspaper, with historic artifacts strewn across its pages. You will see tickets to the game, money, confetti, articles of that time, advertisements, a baseball, a baseball card, and the Library of Congress catalog card for 'Casey at the Bat.' Even the acknowledgments are put into this format. But this would all be but window-dressing if it were not such a powerful poem that has captured the imaginations of baseball fans for generations. 'The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine . . . .' 'The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.' Everyone hopes that Casey will get to bat, but that's unlikely. But a miracle happens. 'For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.' Then comes the most famous and exciting at-bat in fictional baseball history. Alas, like the Red Sox since Babe Ruth left for New York, the end is disappointment for the fans. This book will make a wonderful gift for the baseball fan who has everything. After you finish oohing and aahing over the great illustrations and reliving your pleasure in the poem, I suggest that you reflect over the famous at-bats that have occurred in real baseball games. Which one is your favorite? For me, none can match Kirk Gibson's hobbling home run to help the Dodgers top the Mets in Shea Stadium in the final game of the National League Championship Series and go onto the World Series. I still get chills thinking about that. Reggie Jackson's third home run in the same World Series game comes close as a thrill. Wait for a good pitch, and hit it out of the park! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution