“Casey in the Box,” by Meyer BergerPosted: March 19, 2015
Here is another spin off the Casey at the Bat poem, featuring Hugh Casey of the 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 4 of the World Series against the New York Yankees. Originally published in the New York Times, this piece chronicles that fateful moment in the top of the ninth, when Dodgers catcher Mickey Owen failed to corral a strike three pitch, which allowed Tommy Henrich to reach first with two outs. The Dodgers wound up losing their 4-3 lead, and New York went on to win the game, 7-4.
The prospects seemed all rosy for the Dodger nine that day,
Four to three the score stood, with one man left to play.
And so when Sturm died and Rolfe the Red went out,
In the tall weeds of Canarsie you could hear the Dodgers’ shout.
A measly few got up to go as screaming rent the air. The rest
Were held deep-rooted by Fear’s gnaw eternal at the human breast.
They thought with Henrich, Hugh Casey had a cinch.
They could depend on Casey when things stood in the pinch.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stood there in the box.
There was pride in Casey’s bearing, from his cap down to his sox.
And when, responding to the cheers, he took up his trousers’ sag.
No stranger in the crowd could doubt, he had them in the bag.
Sixty thousand eyes were on him when Casey toed the dirt.
Thirty thousand tongues applauded as he rubbed his Dodger shirt.
Then while the writhing Henrich stood swaying at the hip.
Contempt gleamed high in Casey’s eye. A sneer curled Casey’s lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Henrich stood awaiting it, with pale and frightened stare.
Close by the trembling Henrich the ball unheeded sped.
“He don’t like my style,” said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.
From the benches black with people there went up a muffled roar,
Like the thunder of dark storm waves on the Coney Island shore.
“Get him! Get him, Casey!” shouted someone in the stand.
Hugh Casey smiled with confidence. Hugh Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of kindly charity Great Casey’s visage shone.
He stifled the Faithful’s screaming. He bade the game go on.
He caught Mickey Owen’s signal. Once more the spheroid flew.
But Henrich still ignored it. The umpire bawled, “Strike two!”
“Yay!” screamed the maddened thousands, and the echo answered, ”YAY!”
But another smile from Casey. He held them undeer sway.
They saw his strong jaws tighten. They saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Hughie Casey would get his man again.
Pale as the lily Henrich’s lips; his teeth were clenched in hate.
He pounded with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now Great Casey held the ball, and now he let it go,
And Brooklyn was shattered by the whiff of Henrich’s blow.
But Mickey Owen missed this strike. The ball rolled far behind.
And Henrich speeded to first base, like Clipper on the wind.
Upon the stricken multitude grim melancholy perched.
Dark disbelief bowed Hughie’s head. It seemed as if he lurched.
DiMaggio got a single. Keller sent one to the wall.
Two runs came pounding o’er the dish and oh, this wasn’t all.
For Dickey walked and Gordon a resounding double smashed.
And Dodger fans were sickened. And Dodger hopes were bashed.
Oh somewhere North of Harlem the sun is shining bright.
Bands are playing in the Bronx and up there hearts are light.
In Hunt’s Point men are laughing, on the Concourse children shout.
But there is no joy in Flatbush. Fate had knocked their Casey out.