Deputy picture editor Cathy Mather was looking for a clean-cut, athletic type to pose as Timothy F.X. Casey in photographs for senior writer Frank Deford's cover story Casey at the Bat (page 52), and she found him in Broadway-dancer-turned-model Mike Ragan, 29. "Mike had the right physique, good looks, the right feel," says Mather. "When I saw his Polaroids, I knew he was our Casey."
What Mather didn't know was that Ragan had already appeared in SI. The bottom photo shown here, taken in a Los Angeles motel room, accompanied a story in the Jan. 18, 1960, issue about the nomadic life of young golfers on the winter pro tour, among them Ragan's father, Dave. That's Mike, then 18 months old, in the crib on the right. His twin brother, Dann, is in the other crib. His mother, Joan, is next to Dave. "That's the way we lived," says Mike. "We were on the tour every year until Dann and I were in the first grade. It was a fun way to grow up."
Today Dave Ragan is the club pro at the Oaks Club in Osprey, Fla., and Joan Pirkle—they are divorced—is a ranking amateur golfer. Mike went to high school in Orlando, Fla., and moved to New York City in 1977 to study ballet. He spent eight years dancing in Broadway shows, including A Chorus Line and the 1979 revival of Oklahoma! He turned to modeling two years ago but approached the Casey assignment as an acting job as much as anything. "I read the story and got involved in the character," he says. "I kept thinking hero, all-American idol."
For his part, photographer Abe Seltzer spent hours researching 19th-century baseball at the New York Public Library. "I got caught up in the whole thing," he says. Seltzer took the pictures that accompany the story in his Manhattan studio, overseeing every detail, from who should wear bowler hats to how long muttonchops should be.
July 17, 1988
The bats, balls and gloves used in the shoot were borrowed from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Except for Ragan, most of the models are SI staffers, including reporter Richard O'Brien, who has earned new respect in our halls for his evocative portrayal of Kenny Landis, the pitcher who struck out mighty Casey.