Mighty Casey Fans
Slugger Didn't Arrive Till Seventh Inning Beautiful, Evil Woman Seen In HisCompany
WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT
Sun Still Shining Bright At Undisclosed U.S. Site
The portersscrambled to grab Richard K. Fox's bag when he arrived at New York's GrandCentral that bright Thursday morning, May 31, a century ago. "Boston"was all Fox said, and the lucky fellow who had ended up with Fox's valiserushed ahead to the Pullman car. Fox was not handsome, with a mustache toobushy for his little head, a nose too big by half and cold, hooded eyes. But ifhe lacked the sleek looks of his animal namesake, he was every bit as clever.Like so many men who have succeeded in his profession—Fox was an editor—hisstrength lay in the deployment of better men's talents. On his cravat he wore ahorseshoe pin of gold, studded with diamonds, open side down.
Fox settled inhis seat and turned to the paper he'd brought onto the train. The Democrats,party of the incumbent president, Grover Cleveland, were about to convene inSt. Louis and go through the formality of renominating their man. So the press,its priorities ever straight, was much more interested in what the President'syoung bride, the 23-year-old beauty, Frances Folsom, had worn the day before,Memorial Day. Quickly then, Fox skimmed through the pages until he came to thesports section. He was home now.
The sports pagesin the '80s—the 1880s—had become a popular force. For the cranks (as baseballfans were so aptly known), there were the major-club box scores telegraphedfrom all over. There were even line scores from the burgeoning minor leagues.If Fox had looked closely, for example, he would have seen the scores from theBay State League, which included this doubleheader result: Mudville 16, 8—Lynn5,2. And there were stories on boxing for the fancy (as the pugilistic worldwas called), horse racing, crew, tennis, cricket and many other games. No onewas more responsible for this boom in sports reportage—or for the profitderived from it—than Fox, who had made his magazine, The National PoliceGazette, a successful institution largely because of sports.
An item down nearthe bottom of the Tribune's sports page caught Fox's eye: CHAMPION RETURNS FROMEUROPE. John L. Sullivan, the report said, had arrived back in Boston lastmonth and would be engaging in some stage exhibitions. "Champion," Foxmuttered, crumpling up the paper. "Fat Mick lout." Sullivan was Fox'sb‚Äö√†√∂‚Äö√ë¢te noir, for he was one man in sports Fox could not control, and everythinghe did to thwart the Boston Strong Boy only served to enhance Sullivan'sreputation. It was Fox who had put up Paddy Ryan to fight Sullivan in '82, andSullivan's victory established him as America's first great athletic hero.
Nonetheless,Sullivan would not do Fox's bidding, would not defend his title again. Instead,he went about making a fortune fighting in exhibitions—"My name is John L.Sullivan, and I can beat any sonofabitch in the house!" he wouldbellow—plus eating everything in the house, gulping bourbon from beer steinsand whoring his time away. Frustrated, Fox made up a magnificent"championship" belt for the pretender. Jake Kilrain. So the whole damncity of Boston gave Sullivan an even grander bejeweled belt, and the Great JohnL. grew greater still.
The train pulledout of Grand Central, billowing smoke. Fox was on his way to Boston topersonally goad—somehow—Sullivan into action. "The Great John L.," hemuttered. "My arse."
About the timeFox's Pullman was passing through Bridgeport, Chester Drinkwater was escortinga handsome young couple into the amazing Cyclorama on Tremont Street inBoston's South End. The couple quickly became bug-eyed, for there beforethem—all around them, really, in a circular vista 400 feet in circumference and50 feet high—was a painted re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg. TimothyF.X. Casey didn't have to have it explained to him, either. He hadn't been borntill '67, but his father had fought in the war, and an uncle had died atAntietam. Casey knew his America.
And America wasaboomin'—the West filling, the cities bursting their seams, trolleys (someelectric!) carrying the middle classes out into these new things calledsuburbs. Industry. Commerce. Science. Inventions. Wires were everywhere:Telegraph lines, telephone lines, electric lines. Yet America in '88 was stillcloser to Gettysburg than to the Ardennes, closer to Jeb Stuart than toSergeant York, closer to Abraham Lincoln than to, uh, Babe Ruth.
Flossie Clearyhad heard about Gettysburg, but because she hadn't crossed the ocean from Corkuntil '84, she was more impressed by the scope of the Cyclorama than by thescenes it depicted. So Casey took it upon himself to fill her in. Here's LittleRound Top, there Culp's Hill.... Pickett's Charge is over.... Uh, oh. His handwent out, and it grazed against Flossie. Grazed. Lingered. Then it passed on,and Casey was telling Flossie about the cavalry, but she didn't hear a word.How many times had she whispered to Father O'Reilly in the confessional thatshe had sinned by hoping Timothy F.X. Casey might touch her...and now hehad...and now they would be alone tonight. Chaperoned, of course, by Mr.Chester Drinkwater and his sister, but alone at beautiful, alluring NantasketBeach. Different rooms in the hotel, of course. But still.... There was so muchabout this that left Flossie uneasy.
"Ah, Timothy,but exactly who might this Mr. Drinkwater be, and why would he be doing theselovely things for you?" Flossie had asked when Casey first told her that hehad this benefactor, this rich crank, who wanted to take them to Nantasket, inhis own surrey, in his own sloop across Hingham Bay, put them up at the finesthotel, take them to the finest show.
"Flossie,would you be looking a gift horse in the mouth?" Casey had replied, and abit testily. "Mr. Chester Drinkwater is not only a sporting man, but one ofthe most successful businessmen in Boston. He owns several trolley lines andthe big amusement park in Newton."
Still, somethingstayed under Flossie's fair skin. On the occasion of that exchange, she andTimothy had been alone at the far end of the magnificent veranda at the houseof Mr. and Mrs. Alfred L. Evans Jr., in the finest section of Mudville, whereFlossie was employed as a downstairs maid. But she turned away from Casey,fretting. Things were moving too fast, and she was suspicious. Why, it had beenquite enough, her falling in love with a ballist. In many quarters, ballistswere dismissed as riffraff, which was fair enough, because that was what theywere. Young men who played baseball, it was widely known, generally drank toomuch, gambled and specialized in separating young ladies from their virtuewhenever the opportunity arose. Mostly, they consorted with other lowlifes,such as actors, dance hall girls, boodlers, flimflammers, second-story men,chippies, tarts and cracksmen. In fact, a great many ballists spent theiroff-seasons onstage or with a circus. Casey had joined the Mudville nine latein the '87 season and had met Flossie then, but he'd gone away soon enough,traveling with Barnum & Bailey. Mostly he worked as a roustabout for theside show, although he and another strong fellow would dress in leopard skinsat show time and go onstage to try (unsuccessfully) to hoist the fat lady.
Casey frightenedFlossie some because she loved him even though he was sort of mysterious. Hedidn't seem to have anyone close to him. He'd grown up in Baltimore but wasorphaned, and his only sibling, his lefthanded twin sister, Kate, had marriedinto a German family. He saw her only when the circus passed throughBaltimore.
"It's thisbaseball craze, Flossie," Casey said, moving closer to her on the veranda."People just think it's a humdinger. Not just in Mudville. Why, did youknow the Beaneaters paid $10,000 to the Chicagos just to get King Kelly to comeplay in Boston?"
Flossie gasped.Ten thousand dollars was more money than she expected to see in her lifetime.But something was happening in the '80s. Baseball was developing as a kind ofadhesive that held together the evolving city and all its diverse types. It wassaid that any middling city that aspired to the big time needed three things:trolley lines, an opera house and a baseball team. "What can I do,Flossie?" Casey asked. "I found out I could hit a horsehide, and nowpeople love me for it."
Mudville had gonebonkers over its nine that spring, and it was almost entirely because of Casey.The Evanses at first didn't want Flossie to have anything to do with a ballist,but after Mr. Evans left the bank early one day and went out to the Grounds tosee Mudville whip Framingham 8-1 and Casey hit two triplets and a two-bagger,he let the young fellow come call on Flossie.
Casey had kept upthe tattoo all spring. Why, not a single pitcher had yet struck him out. Thebaseballs didn't have much bounce in them, and the wheelman delivered from only50 feet away, but Casey had such power that soon enough the local papers werecalling him Mighty Casey. He was hitting .386, too, and grumpy old CyrusWeatherly, the town miser who owned the team and the Mudville Grounds as well,was delighted to see that the ladies and gentlemen of the town were flocking tothe East Side to watch the games. Even Mrs. Evans went to a game oneafternoon.
Later that sameday, Casey was on the Evans's veranda with Flossie when a rather ascetic younggentleman appeared. He explained that he had been directed to this address bysomeone at Casey's boardinghouse, so Mr. Evans steered him out to the veranda."Mr. Casey," the man said, "my name is Jim Naismith, and I'm astudent in Canada. I'm visiting at the training school over in Springfield,considering becoming what they call a physical education instructorthere."
"How do youdo, sir," Casey said.
Naismithexplained that word had reached Springfield that Casey had the finest naturalswing in all the world. "When the season is over," Naismith said,"if they send you a rail ticket, would you come show the students yourswing?"
"Gee, I don'tknow," Casey said, taken aback. "The past two winters I traveled withthe circus."
"Oh, Isee," Naismith said, clearly disappointed.
Casey glancedover at Flossie, then lowered his head. " 'Course, I'm thinking maybe Iwon't be leaving Mudville this fall." Flossie's face turned crimson, andher heart bobbled.
"Well,now," Naismith said. "I think you'd be interested in what they do inSpringfield. Besides baseball in the spring, they have gymnastics and swimmingand football in the fall."
"What game dothey play in the winter?" Casey asked.
"Nothingsatisfactory, I'm afraid," Naismith said. "But I'm going to work onthat."
Mr. Evans steppedup. "You know, Timothy, you're a bright lad and good at sport. Maybe youought to think about attending that school in Springfield after theseason."
Casey gulped."But that's like a college, Mr. Evans."
"There's nolaw says a ballist can't go to college, is there, Mr. Naismith?" And thenhe turned to Flossie. "You wouldn't be bothered being married to a collegeman, would you, Flossie?"
Casey's jawdropped. Flossie shrieked, "Faith and begorra, sir," and dashed away.Mr. Evans threw an arm about Casey's shoulders, more as he would with a sonthan with some roisterous ballplayer. "A real nice piece of dry goods,"Mr. Evans said, winking at Casey, as they watched Flossie's trim ship sailaway. "A very nice piece of calico."
Two weeks later,just before Memorial Day when Chester Drinkwater came by, Mr. Evans broughtCasey right into the parlor. After Flossie had served tea, Drinkwater came tothe point. "Mr. Evans, would it be possible for Flossie to come away withMr. Casey and myself—and my sister Maud, who'll chaperon, of course—and go downto visit Nantasket Beach on Thursday?" he asked.
That week theMudvilles would exploit Memorial Day on Wednesday by playing a doubleheader.But then they'd be off until Saturday, so Casey could get away to the beach."I've taken a keen liking to this young man," Drinkwater said, pattingCasey on the knee. "And the way baseball is taking hold, there may be a lotof cranks out there who'd love to deal with Timothy if he were a salesman forme."
"Goodbusiness," said Mr. Evans.
"It'd sure bebetter than trying to lift that fat lady three times a day," Caseyallowed.
Mr. Evans curledhis mustache, thinking. "Well, as long as she's chaperoned, and as long asshe can make up the time, working her off-afternoons, I can't see why Flossiecan't go to Nantasket."
"Oh, thankyou, sir," Casey whooped, and he bolted into the kitchen to tell Flossiethe good news.
Mr. Evans turnedback to his visitor. "You know, Mr. Drinkwater, I can't tell you what adifference Casey has made to this town. Why he's not only changed the wholespirit of Mudville, but he's got people going over to that old East Side again.We haven't had any interest out there in years, but people go out to theGrounds, see Casey wallop one, and...all of a sudden I've got a mortgageapplication on my desk for property out there. It's amazing what a team can dofor a town. Something new in our modern society, I believe. Amazing. Had youever thought about that?"
"No, I neverhad," Drinkwater said, lying through his teeth.
Casey's MemorialDay performance was as fine as a hitter could have: eight for 12, two homers,11 runs batted in. And what crowds! SRO! Waving American flags! The childrenhung from the trees, and all the bands from the Memorial Day parade reassembledat the Grounds, so grumpy old Cyrus Weatherly let them sit inside thecenterfield fence—for two bits a head—and they played music all afternoon,adding to the holiday air.
The Mudvilles hadnever drawn so many people, and it was only May. Word of the Mighty Casey hadeven reached Boston, and because the Beaneaters were away on a western swing, afew cranks took the train out from the city. Ernest Thayer, Harvard '85, afrustrated poet who was resigned to working in one of the family's woolenmills, came in from Worcester. Flossie snuck away from the house late in theday and was at the Grounds for the eighth inning of the second game, in time tosee Casey at the bat for the last time.
Hughie Barrowswas on second and Johnny Flynn on first, and Casey knocked them both in with aground rule double that rolled into a French horn in centerfield. The crowdwent berserk. The score didn't mean anything now. In fact, baseball didn'tmatter. It was mostly a matter of pride. Not only did the people of Mudvillehave a hero, but they also were made heroic, touched by him.
However, allFlossie could see was that glorious, innocent face on second base: Casey,standing there, his cap off, waving to the throng, beaming. Practically all theplayers wore mustaches, and many of them bushy sideburns to boot. But Casey wasapart. His face was as clean as it was bright, his eyes clear blue, his hairthe color of a base path, his uniform happily dirty. Not poverty dirty orgrubby dirty, but boyishly dirty, good dirty, thought Flossie. God, but Caseywas clean. The tears poured down Flossie's cheeks. She was so in love, andmaybe even better, she knew Casey loved her, too.
In the standsback of third base Thayer turned to a friend. "You know," he said,"there's that song about King Kelly."
"You meanSlide, Kelly, Slide?"
"Right. Andthere's that barroom rhyme for John L." Thayer recited from memory:
His colors arethe 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 goodmemory, Ernest."
"Yeah, wellthis guy Casey deserves even more. He deserves an epic poem. I think I'll comeback out here Saturday."
On second base,Casey put his cap back on, and when he did, it was as if he caught a sunbeam init and the rays wreathed his head in amber. Then he hitched up his pants andtook a long lead off second.
Drinkwaterescorted Flossie and Casey out of the Cyclorama. Her mind was still swimming atthat marvel, the grandest thing she had ever seen. And now Drinkwater took herby the elbow and helped her into his rig, a magnificent surrey drawn by a pairof matching chestnuts. Why, Cinderella herself hadn't gone to the ball inanything finer, and Flossie only wished that Mr. Drinkwater wasn't along withthem so that she could snuggle up next to Timothy—and hang that anyone wouldsee her carrying on so brazenly.
Flossie had beenin the big city before, but this was different, looking from the surrey on thehumanity scrambling about her. Boston had burst into a city of 400,000 people,easily double what it had been before the Civil War, and that didn't take intoaccount the trolley suburbs. There were 231 miles of trolley lines now,carrying 85 million passengers every year—all manner of souls: Chinese men withpigtails, Jews with long beards, Poles and Gypsies, sailors, beggars andurchins. Almost three quarters of the city was immigrant or first generation.Since '85, Boston had even had an Irish mayor. What else could hold thisdisjointed mass together but churches, saloons and baseball?
The surrey headedsouth, toward Quincy and the sloop that would take them across Hingham Bay. Atrolley flashed across their path, the passengers hanging on, jaunty in thewarm air. Tomorrow would be June! Flossie eyed the theaters, the shops, thedepartment stores. In one window were fancy shawls on sale for $2.25. HowFlossie wanted one, but there was no time and so much to see. Druggists onevery corner, curing the ails of mankind. Signs and sandwich boards boasting ofnostrums to correct OBESITY! OPIUM ADDICTION! THE ILL EFFECTS OF YOUTHFULERRORS! SUMMER DEBILITIES! There was Lydia Pinkham's famous vegetable compoundfor women, and Unrivalled Eureka Pills for Weak Men who suffered from earlydecay and lost manhood. The way things were going, what would doctors have leftto cure in the 20th Century?
When they reachedDorchester the driver pulled off the main road, and Drinkwater explained thathis sister had a touch of the vapors, it seemed, and so his niece Phoebe hadgraciously consented to fill in as a substitute chaperon. As soon as Drinkwatergot down from the rig to go in the house and fetch her, Casey turned to Flossieand, taking her by the shoulders, looked into her face.
How smooth itwas. And in a world where so many people had disfiguring smallpox marks,Flossie's countenance seemed all the more polished, the rosy cheeks blushing,the green eyes enraptured, the tendrils of hair falling gently across herforehead. She knew he was going to embrace her then, kiss her right there inthe surrey, in the sunlight. She also knew she wasn't going to stop him, and,indeed, when Casey didn't disappoint, when he took her in his arms and pressedhis lips against hers, Flossie fell onto him and kissed him back with every bitas much fervor.
She absolutelyastonished Casey, and so it was he who, finally, pulled back, wide-eyed."You're as beautiful as Frances Folsom herself," he gasped at last,paying her the ultimate compliment.
Flossie's motherhad told her about boys like him. "Am I now?"
"Oh yes, onlyI'm sure she doesn't kiss the President nearly so well," he smirked, makingFlossie duck her head in proud embarrassment.
When she lookedup, she knew Casey was going to try to kiss her again. To stop this madness,she put a finger to his lips. "Tell me now, Timothy. What does Mr.Drinkwater seek from you?"
Casey glared ather. "Dammit, Florence Cleary, I told you not to ask me that," hesnapped. And he was so peeved at her, he sulked intermittently the rest of thetrip, or at least until they put on their bathing costumes at Nantasket Beachand Casey got to see the flesh of Flossie's ankles.
Richard Foxalighted at Boston's new Park Square Terminal that afternoon. What a ride:mile-a-minute, throttle out; a sumptuous meal; exquisite comfort and service.At the Parker House his suite was ready, but before going up, Fox asked thetelephone traffic operator, the hello girl, to ring up the Third Base Saloon at940 Columbus Avenue. After a moment a voice came on. "Hello," itsaid.
"I'd like totalk to Mr. McGreevey," Fox said.
"This is NufCed. Who's this?" "This is Richard Fox...of the PoliceGazette."
There was a pauseon the other end, and Michael T. McGreevey, known by one and all as Nuf Ced,clearly let fly into a spittoon. "I don't know if I want to talk toya."
"Maybe he is.Maybe he isn't."
"Look, NufCed, I'm trying to make a lot of money for Sullivan. Tell 'im I came to Boston,and...."
Pit-too. "Heain't in Boston."
"So, when'she get back?"
"O.K., youjust tell Sullivan I'll be at your place tomorrow night."
"Aye, I'lltell 'im." Pit-too. "But I ain't sayin' Johnny'll like it, Fox. Noughsaid?" said Nuf Ced.
The reasonSullivan wasn't in Boston that Thursday was that he was the featured attractionat the Nantasket Beach show. Why should he defend his title against JakeKilrain when he could make a king's ransom walking through exhibitions?
Drinkwater hadthe choicest seats for Flossie and Casey, himself and Phoebe, his niece. Truthto tell, Phoebe didn't look much like a chaperon. While she couldn't have beenmuch older than Flossie, an aura of maturity hung on her no less than the mendid. Many of those in the dining room seemed to know Drinkwater's niece as wellas they knew Drinkwater. And he was a much recognized man. The Trolley King,everyone called him.
Flossie kept hereyes on Drinkwater, though not, perhaps, quite as much as Phoebe kept hers onCasey. And how raggedy Flossie felt beside Phoebe. Flossie was in her very bestSunday gingham, but it looked absolutely shabby compared with Phoebe'smagnificent brown foulard gown, with white polka dots and a parasol to match.No wonder the men stared at her so. No wonder Casey did. Flossie was relievedwhen they could finally get over to the pavilion to see the show.
And what aperformance it was! Though Flossie had believed that nothing could possiblycompare to the Gettysburg Cyclorama, this surely was entertainment unrivaled.Here was the bill:
First, Gardiniand Hamlet, blackface singers. Then the solemn dramatic recitations of Amos P.Lawrence, followed by John Mahoney, who performed a "laughabletrapeze," adroitly mixing humor and danger. Jessie Allyne came next, abrief novelty act. She let her magnificent hair down and down and down, untilthe golden tresses lay in great coiled rings at her feet. "I seen somethinglike that in a sideshow once," Casey said, "but the lady in questionwasn't nearly so grand." This was followed by the Authentic MonkeyOrchestra, then Fairfax and Siegfried, human statues extraordinaire, and theever-popular Willie Arnold, New England's favorite jig dancer.
Then it was timefor the fisticuffs. First, before John L. came on, Patsey Kerrigan and GeorgeLaBlanche fought under the old ring rules, which the announcer explained meant"anything but biting." Sullivan himself would have none of that. It wasodd about John L. As utterly crude as he was—almost barbaric in his personalhabits—he preferred gloves and the new Marquis of Queensberry rules, withscoring by timed rounds. Still, even the fashionable Nantasket crowd showedatavistic fascination as Kerrigan and LaBlanche clawed one another.
Drinkwater leanedacross to Casey. "Look about," he said. "Look at your Miss Clearyand my, uh, niece. Look all around, and you'll espy that much of the applausehere comes from the dainty gloved hands." Casey nodded. "You see,Timothy, if women can favor a raw free-for-all as we've just seen, think howmany of the lovelies would be attracted to a fine, clean sporting event likebaseball"—Drinkwater lifted a finger—"particularly if it were played ina better part of town."
Casey started toapprove this wisdom, but he was stopped cold, for at that moment the Great JohnL. Sullivan entered the stage, a huge green robe slung loosely over hisshoulders. Casey was aghast. The Boston Strong Boy was, in fact, the Boston FatBoy. "He's fat," Flossie said, with shock. "Disgustingly fat,"said Phoebe, with disgust.
The heavyweightchampion of the world, 29 years old, looked closer to 39 and packed 243 poundson his 5'10½" frame. He was grotesquely flabby. His attendant, a spiderylittle sort named Smiler Pippen, laced on the champ's gloves, and that motionwas enough to jiggle Sullivan's jowls and belly. John L. liked having Smileraround, for he was a self-professed druggist, who dispensed rubdowns and afavored potion, a so-called physic, which was made up of zinnia, salts andlicorice. That was Sullivan's only concession to training.
He sauntered outto face one Francis Rooney, and to Casey's surprise, he had to admit thatSullivan could be remarkably nimble when he had to be—for a second or two. Buthe was too much the walrus to maintain any pace, and though his blows obviouslydevastated poor Rooney, John L. was hardly a scintillating climax to theevening. Drinkwater and his guests left a bit disappointed.
Casey had hopedthen for a stroll down the boardwalk, perhaps even a little trip along thebeach, but Flossie was exhausted from the long day, and he had to settle for achaste peck on her cheek. Then Phoebe conscientiously assumed her chaperon'smantle and ushered Flossie off to her room. "A little nose paint?"Drinkwater said to Casey, beckoning to the bar, where they took a table forbrandy and cigars.
"Well,Timothy, my boy, have you decided to accept my little proposition?"Drinkwater asked after they'd lit up.
"I think so,but I'm not...."
"Iunderstand. You're a prudent young man," Drinkwater said, toasting him."So, let's run over it again. Now, you tell me you make...."
"Eighthundred dollars for the season...."
So Drinkwatertook out his billfold and laid out eight $100 bills. Casey blinked.
"And if youstay with Mudville after this season, you'll be reserved," Drinkwater said."You understand? They'll own you. Reserve is just a pretty word for own.Bad enough that provision was put in for the major-club players, now it's inthe minors, too. What is this? This is 1888. We fought a war over this 25 yearsago."
"Yessir." The nerve of old Cyrus Weatherly and those other owners.
"Now, I'mprepared to pay you three thousand dollars"—to spell things out, Drinkwaterlaid down two more centuries and a pair of $1,000 bills—"to leaveMudville."
"Take thesummer off," Drinkwater went on. "Next season, I'll help you sign withanyone."
"TheBeaneaters," said Casey.
"Why not,Timothy, my boy? Casey's eyes twinkled.
"And finally,an extra $500 to seal the bargain," Drinkwater said, and he laid out a $500bill. "And I'll throw in a beautiful new gown for that young lady of yours.You get this right now"—he slid the $500 closer to Casey—"and the restafter five more games. Only you're not to get a single hit in any of thosegames. I don't want you just disappearing. That'd be too curious. But if all ofa sudden you start striking out, it'll look like something went wrong withMighty Casey. People will think he went lame, lost his ginger. Then you takethe $3,000 and drop out of sight. Only, when you materialize next year, you'rein the National League."
Casey's handitched to reach out and take the $500, but, after hesitating, he took up thebrandy glass instead. Casey was no dummy. "Mr. Drinkwater, I'm nodummy," he said. "There must be a reason you'd pay me allthis."
"Of coursethere is, my boy. But there's an expression going around: What you don't knowwon't hurt you. You just have my word as a sporting man that it's not illegal.What do you say?"
Casey paused amoment. "Let me sleep on it."
"Very wise,my boy," Drinkwater said, chuckling. "Yes indeed, you sleep on ittonight. Heh, heh."
Casey entered hisroom. From out of the shadows Phoebe came toward him, letting her long sablehair tumble down to the brown foulard dress with the white polka dots. Onlythen did Casey realize that she didn't have the brown foulard dress with thewhite polka dots on anymore. "I thought you'd never come up, Timothy,"Phoebe said with a sigh.
Later, whenPhoebe had dressed, she pulled a $500 bill out of her purse and left it on thebedside table. "So, we're in business...with my uncle," she said. AndCasey smiled and nodded.
He felt rotten,dirty and deceitful, and wondered when he could see her again.
Late the nextafternoon, back in Boston, Casey and Flossie walked along the Charles. They'dcome up from Nantasket with Phoebe and Drinkwater and had checked into theParker House, where they planned to spend the night before heading out toMudville the next morning for the big game. It was a glorious day—the emeraldgrass, the sculls and sails upon the water, the promenading swells from theBack Bay—but Casey knew that none of the ladies of Boston was as gorgeous ashis Flossie.
Drinkwater hadarranged for a new outfit to be waiting for Flossie at the hotel:Blue-and-white-striped silk it was, and her splendid figure filled it like oneof those sails on the Charles. The dress had wide cuffs and a deep collar ofwhite linen. And there was a leghorn straw sailor with a blue band and flowingwhite ribbon. Parasol to match. "You're the loveliest, Flossie," Caseysaid. "There's not a man on the esplanade who's not trying to catch youreye."
"Pshaw. Noone would buck a gentleman so pleasing to the eye as you," Flossie said,giving a little flip to her parasol. She was learning quickly how much moreeffectively she could flirt when she was well dressed. "But, ah, I must bewatching you, I must."
"That Phoebewoman. I truly don't believe she's Mr. Drinkwater's niece, but I do believeshe'd like to seduce you, Timothy Casey."
Casey threw hishands to his head and rolled his eyes. "Flossie, that is the mostridiculous thing I've ever heard," he said. He shook his head one more timefor effect and stared out at the river.
Whew, he thought,I nipped that in the bud.
Ohhh, thoughtFlossie, she's seduced him already.
She turned toface him squarely. "You made your deal with Mr. Drinkwater, didn't younow?"
"Sureenough," Casey said, beaming. He pulled out the $500 bill, brandishing itand telling her all the benign details of the arrangement.
But Flossieturned away. "I love you, Timothy Casey. I surely do," she said."But I can't be marryin' you if you're involved in...."
"But there'snothing illegal. I told...."
"Well, let metell you," Flossie snapped, whirling around, her green eyes searing."Mudville loves you, Mr. Casey. Why, I've heard Mr. Evans tell that you'rebringin' the whole East Side back to life, you are. Can't you see what Mr.Drinkwater and that wicked lady want? They want to build a trolley line way outin the opposite direction from Mudville, practically to Devonbury, to moveeverything out there. Can't you understand what he'll do to Mudville?"
"Flossie,it's just good old American business know-how."
Flossie stampedher parasol on the ground as if it were a shillelagh. "Timothy Casey, wouldyou be a dumb Mick? Can't you see? I'll bet Mr. Drinkwater's bought every bitof real estate out there. I'll wager he's going to build an amusement park,a...another baseball grounds. Can't you see that? You breathed life back intoour little town, and now he's stealing you from us. That's worse than breakin'any law. Ah, that's breakin' th' spirit."
"Bu...."Casey began to protest, and made the mistake of holding up the $500 bill. Whenhe did, Flossie slapped it away, and he had to scramble after it. By the timehe had retrieved the money, his Flossie was weaving in and out among thestrollers, disappearing.
When Casey gotback to the Parker House, a package was waiting for him at the bell stand. Heopened it, and there was Flossie's new dress. A note was pinned to it. It said,"Dear Timothy, I'm sorry, but I cannot accept this or what you are doingwith yourself. Do not come calling on me again. Very truly yours, Florence M.Cleary."
Casey crumpled upthe note in anger and rushed over to the front desk with the open package inhis hands. A well-dressed man with a horseshoe pin on his cravat was standingthere. He looked over Casey, looked over the dress. "Woman trouble?" heasked, but sympathetically.
Casey ignoredhim. To the clerk, he said, "What room is Miss Phoebe Alexander in,please?"
Casey grabbed apen, dashed off a note and called for a bellboy.
"I'msorry," said the man with the horseshoe pin. "I didn't mean to botheryou, but you look like a boxer."
"A fighter?Not me. I'm a ballist."
"Oh, well,I'm sorry. It's just that I'm a fancy man." He put out his hand."Richard Fox, of The Police Gazette."
"Nofooling," Casey said, licking the envelope. "Gee, I read the Gazetteevery month."
He handed thebellboy the note and a half a dime. "Seven-eighteen. And wait for thelady's reply."
Then he stuck outhis hand to Fox. "I'm Timothy Casey, rightfielder on the Mudvillenine."
"Well,well," said Fox. "I've got a bit of business in a while, but would youjoin me for some nose paint while I'm waiting?"
Casey looked atFox. The Police Gazette. He looked at the bellboy waiting for the elevator, andhe thought of Phoebe's hair cascading over her bare shoulders. He looked backat Fox. He saw Flossie's eyes. Back to the bellboy. He was just getting on theelevator. He saw all of Flossie. He saw Flossie's love and his own shame—and inthe split second it takes a horsehide to travel 50 feet to the bat, Caseydashed to the elevator and yanked the little bellboy out through the closingdoors. "Keep the half a dime, but gimme the note back," he said, andthen, smiling, he hustled back over to Fox.
Nobody had comeup with the term sports bar in 1888, but if they had, the Third Base Saloon,Michael T. McGreevey, Prop., would surely have been recognized as the firstsuch institution. Athletic souvenirs—especially baseball gear—cluttered theplace, barely leaving room for the cranks who jammed in, particularly afterBeaneater games at the South End Grounds nearby. "I call it Third Base'cause it's the last place you stop before you steal home," McGreevey wouldgrowl. " 'Nough said?"
McGreevey wasstout and tiny, a terrier among men, with a handlebar mustache, and while hehad been baptized Michael Thomas, he was always called Nuf Ced. Fox explainedthis to Casey as they entered the Third Base Saloon and trod across the largemosaic on the floor that spelled out NUF CED. "He's here, Johnny," NufCed roared from behind the bar.
"Who'shere?" The great booming voice of John L. Sullivan answered from somewherein the back. "Anybody important?"
"No, justRichard Fox, the chucklehead who gave a championship belt to Jake Kilrain."Pit-too.
Fox smiledfacetiously, tipped his hat to Nuf Ced and bade Casey join him at a table. Theyordered beers, and Fox explained they would just have to wait for Sullivan.Sure enough, it was an hour or more before Sullivan, with a big tankard of alein one hand, appeared. He was accompanied by Smiler Pippen on the one side andby his floozy of the evening, Rosie, on the other. "All right, Fox, what isit you're wantin'?" John L. snarled, and Nuf Ced, taking his cue, came overto the table to stand between the two men.
"I just wantyou to fight Kilrain, Johnny."
"For you,Fox? I ain't no henhouse to let a Fox into," he said, and everyone in theThird Base Saloon roared.
"Then don'tdo it for me," Fox went on. "Just fight him. That's what all the fancywants. Or are you too fat, Johnny? Too old?"
"Why yougoddamn—" said Sullivan, reaching down to grab Fox. John L. had taken thebait. Fox figured that Nuf Ced would jump in, and he did, but Fox didn't figurethat, faster still, his new friend Casey would spring to his feet. Casey shovedSullivan. The ale went flying, and the big fellow needed help from Smiler andRosie before he could regain his balance. He glared at Casey, at thiswhite-faced, clean-shaven bumpkin. "And who the hell are you, sonny?"Sullivan shouted.
Casey didn't backdown. Indeed, he leaned forward a little, never taking his eyes off Sullivan."My name is Timothy F.X. Casey, and I can beat any sonofabitch in thehouse."
The Third BaseSaloon fell into a hush. "Is he serious?" Sullivan said at last.
"Are youserious?" Nuf Ced said. Pit-too.
Fox pulled atCasey's sleeve. "You're not serious, are you?" he asked.
"Sure, for aprice. What are the odds on me?"
"A thousandto one," Nuf Ced said. Pit-too.
"I'll takeanything he wants at 20 to 1," Sullivan snapped.
Immediately,Casey yanked the $500 bill out of his pocket and waved it. "You're on, JohnL.," he said. "For this." The crowd gasped as one.
Nuf Ced closedthe bar, and the entire ensemble traipsed over to the South End Grounds, wherethey staked out a ring between the pitcher's box and first base. There was agood moon and enough city light.
"You sure youwanna go through with this, Casey?" Fox asked, helping him off with hiscoat. "I had Paddy Ryan fight him in '82, and he said it was like atelegraph pole went through him the first time Sullivan hit him."
"That was'82. I seen Sullivan last night," Casey said. "He's fat as a hog, andhe's drunk a lotta ale tonight. Besides, my girl left me, and I'mmean."
"Up toscratch," Nuf Ced cried out, and the two fighters stepped forward to a lineNuf Ced had drawn in the dirt. The spectators stood about in a square, alreadyscreaming.
"Fourrounds," Nuf Ced said. Pit-too. "No biting, scratching, gouging,tripping or wrestling."
Both men nodded.Sullivan spit on his hands. Nuf Ced raised his arm. Sullivan knew what toexpect. But Casey had figured it out, too. He didn't even look at Sullivan. Hekept his eyes on Nuf Ced, and the instant his arm moved, Casey ducked. Goodthing. The air was shattered by the force of John L.'s blow.
Casey came up, inone motion banging his right to the big fellow's big belly, and then his left.By the time Casey was standing full up, Sullivan was holding his stomach. SoCasey stepped in and, with all his might, pounded his right to the champion'smeaty face. And with that, barely 10 seconds into the fight, Casey had hit ahome run. The Great John L. buckled and fell.
The crowd fellinto utter silence, shocked. Blood trickled from the corner of Sullivan'smouth, but he wouldn't dab at it, any more than Casey would grab his throbbingknuckles. Instead, the two men just glared at each other, until finallySullivan began to rise on the count of eight. He got up like a bull elephant,slowly at first, but once he had lifted his great bulk off the ground andleaned forward, he possessed a momentum that no sleek creature could achieve.He pounded the few steps toward Casey. It would have been easy for Casey tostep aside, except he was backed up against the crowd—John L.'s crowd—and theloyal spectators blocked Casey's movement. He tried to duck, but as he'd seenin Nantasket, Sullivan, for all his corpulence, still had some agility. John L.caught Casey flush with an uppercut. Casey staggered back, his face exploding,his brains rattling about.
He wanted to godown and regroup, but not only did the spectators block his fall, they alsopropped Casey up—and then bounced him back toward Sullivan. Casey was ahelpless target, and he could see, in his daze, John L. winding up for theknockout.
Then,inexplicably, just like that, Sullivan dropped his dukes and idly watched Caseyfly past him, still propelled by the push from the crowd. Sullivan put hishands on his hips and glared at the spectators.
"John L.Sullivan doesn't need any help when he's in the ring," he bellowed. Theoffenders shrank back.
His rebukecomplete, Sullivan turned to finish off Casey. But the moment was lost; Caseyhad shaken his head clear. When John L. swung, Casey hopped aside, as if hewere getting away from a high inside pitch, and with everything left in him, heducked and came up throwing, like a shortstop pegging to first. Whoosh. Intothe champion's soft underbelly. Sullivan gasped. His chin was wide open, butCasey went for the tummy again. And again. The champion doubled over, and onlythen did Casey aim his left hand—the one that still had its knuckles intact—forSullivan's chin. Bam! John L. crumpled to his knees and then pitched forward,spitting out blood and ale, spilling his beans.
"Start thegoddam count, Nuf Ced!" Fox screamed.
Sullivan peekedup. He didn't know how Casey's hands ached. So, he just waved Nuf Ced away andsank back onto the infield grass, into his own blood and guts. The Great JohnL. was beaten. "Congratulations, sonny," he said. "Now you can tellthe whole world you was the first sonuvab.... You was the first man ever tobeat the Great John L."
"Gimme my$10,000, and I'll never tell a soul on God's green earth," Casey said.
"Don't matternone. That viper Fox'll put it in the Gazette."
Fox steppedforward to Sullivan. "Not if you fight Kilrain, I won't, Johnny," hesaid.
"Yeahnow?" said Sullivan, the possibilities dawning on him, and he looked allaround at the crowd. "Any sonuvabitch here see John L. Sullivan get beattonight?"
There was silencefor another moment as the crowd looked at one another. Finally, Nuf Ced spitand spoke up: "No, indeed, not me." And then the others cried out,"Not these eyes!" "No, no, no." "I didn't seenuthin'."
Sullivan nodded."All right, Fox, I'll fight your boy."
"Yeah,bare-knuckle. One last time."
Casey started towalk away. "Get me my money, Fox," he called out, and the onlookersstepped aside for him, standing back in awe, afraid even to whisper in thepresence of, let alone get in the way of, the man who beat John L.
Suddenly, Fox ranafter Casey and caught him near home plate. He took his diamond-studded goldhorseshoe off and pinned it on Casey's shirt. "Thanks" was all Foxsaid.
Casey took thepin off. "You never worked a circus, did you, Fox?" he asked.
Casey put the pinback on his shirt, but he fixed it with the open end of the horseshoe up."You never hang a horseshoe down," said Casey. "Anybody on a circusknows that. Hang it down, all the good luck will run out."
Fox nodded andsmiled.
"No wonderyou never beat John L. before," Casey said.
Flossie washanging the washing on the clothesline the next afternoon when Casey cametearing up to her, his face all bruised. "Timothy, what in heaven'sname...."
"I haven'tgot time," he said. "I'm already late for the game, and I gotta seeDrinkwater, too."
She gritted herteeth at the mere mention of that name, but Casey only reached out and pinnedthe horseshoe pin above her breast. "We can pluck the diamonds out and makea proper engagement ring," he said, and with that he dashed off to the ballyard. Flossie unfastened the pin to look it over. Why, it obviously cost evenmore than the silk dress. How much more money was Drinkwater paying him now?And for what? Furious, Flossie pinned the horseshoe back on, and even thoughonly half the washing had gone up on the line, she rushed off.
There had neverbeen a larger crowd for a baseball game in Mudville. Had everybody in townskipped work? Had every kid robbed his piggy bank? Grumpy old Cyrus Weatherlyhad stuck the overflow behind ropes in centerfield. Ernest Thayer had arrivedin time to get a ticket, but the crowd spilled over into the aisles, and he hada hard time seeing some of the action.
But where wasCasey? Mighty Casey? Nobody knew. Only Drinkwater, sitting in his box by theMudville bench, beamed.
Willie Flaherty,the Mudville manager, put McGillicuddy in for Casey, but the Mudvilles were atsea without their star, and the Lynns built a 4-2 lead. Then, just as Lynn madeout in the seventh, here came Casey sauntering onto the diamond. The peopleroared and screamed his name, everyone standing and stretching for just aglance. Weatherly glowered at his tardy slugger. Drinkwater nodded his head andwinked at Casey as he jogged to the bench. The kid has a real sense of theater,Drinkwater mused. To show up like this and then strike out—an even greaterdisappointment for the gullible locals. Casey went right to the manager."I'm ready, Willie," he said.
Jimmy Blake wasleading off in the seventh, so McGillicuddy was on deck—Casey's spot. ButFlaherty waved the Mudville star away. "Sit down, Mr. Casey," he said."I play the guys who are here when the game starts."
While the crowdbooed, poor McGillicuddy batted—bumping a little dribbler back to the wheelman.Three up and three down. And the same in the Mudville eighth. However, whenBarry O'Connor, the Mudville pitcher, retired the Lynns in order in the ninthinning, he came out of the pitcher's box and headed straight for Flaherty, tobeseech him to let Casey have his licks. Flaherty spit and then said,"O.K., Barry, if we get to McGillicuddy's spot, I'll give him aswing."
But the elationon the Mudville bench was short-lived because Cooney grounded out and Barrowstopped a ball to first. "I've never seen such a sickly silence," Thayersaid to the fellow next to him.
"Still,"the other gentleman said, "I'd put up even money if Casey could get at thebat."
The pitcher forthe Lynns was a wiry little guy named Kenny Landis, who was a law studentpitching under the nom de baseball of Wall Mueller. In his heavy flannel, hewas sweating copiously as he peered in for the final out against Johnny Flynn.Landis tried to dry his pitching hand on his trousers, but they were almostsoaked through with sweat. With his wet fingers, and his being tired, too, hehung an in-shoot, and Flynn knocked it cleanly up the middle. That broughtBlake to the plate, and the Mudville Grounds exploded, but even Blake knew itwasn't for him. No, the roar was for who would come after Blake: Casey, theMighty Casey, was moving up on deck.
Casey detoured onthe way, going over to speak to Drinkwater. Flossie had found her way into theGrounds by now and had worked her way to the first row in the centerfieldoverflow. When she saw Casey consorting with Drinkwater again—and right out inthe open!—she slammed her arms folded across her chest and cursed the best wayshe knew how.
Blake was anold-timer, cagey when he was sober, and he decided to rip into the kidpitcher's first pitch. He rifled it down the leftfield line, and when the dustwas settled, he was standing on second base and Flynn on third.
Here came Casey.Poor Landis could hardly see through his sweat. But, he thought, Casey probablywants to see what kind of stuff I have, so he'll be taking. Good thinking:Casey let a waist-high fastball go by. "Strike one," said the umpire.Flossie wrung her hands and prayed that Casey would find his conscience and hitthe ball.
Landis came backwith an out-drop, but Casey thought it was off the plate. The umpire, standingbehind the pitcher, saw it nick the corner. "Strike two," he said.
But the Mudvillesweren't worried. Casey had seen the kid's repertoire, and he was a celebratedtwo-strike hitter. The cranks were all on their feet, hollering, and Thayer,even on tiptoes, had to hop this way and that to follow the action. In fact, hemissed it when Casey, staring out at the pitcher, spotted Flossie directlybehind him, watching from straightaway center, standing out against the crowdin her maid's uniform. For just a moment Casey smiled at her, and thensomething came over him. Before he knew it, he had raised his bat, pointing ittoward center, calling a home run right over his dear Flossie's head. The crowdroared.
"What wasthat? What was that?" Thayer cried.
"I couldn'tsee, either," the guy next to him said.
Then the crowdparted a little, and Thayer was able to watch as Casey clenched his teeth andpounded his bat. Landis sweated even more. He would have gone to the resin bag,only there weren't any resin bags yet, so he rubbed his hand on his clothes, onhis cap, his socks, his hair, his mustache. Then he reared back and let theball go. Casey saw it all the way. The pitch didn't have a thing on it. Hebegan his swing, poised, evenly, perfectly....
Casey missed itby a country mile.
Mudville blinked.Mudville couldn't believe it. Flossie could. Flossie cried. Casey had gone onthe take. There was no joy in Mudville.
Only...wait. Thepitch had darted down, and it went under the catcher's glove. It began to rollto the backstop, and here came Flynn, already bearing down on the plate. Caseybegan to run for first. The catcher got to the ball, picked it up, dropped it,picked it up again, and there went the throw, soaring over the first baseman'shead by five feet. Flynn scored. It was 4-3. And here came old Blake rightbehind. Tie score. Four-up. And Casey was on his way to second. He rounded thebag, and the rightfielder picked up the horse-hide down the line and threwbehind Casey, to nail him as he tried to scramble back to second. Only Caseysaw where the throw was going, and he put his head down and kept on for third.The second-sacker took the throw, a good one, whirled and whipped it to third.It bounced in the dirt as Casey slid, and ricocheted off the third baseman'sshoulder and down the leftfield line. Casey scrambled to his feet and was onhis way home. The third baseman tore back, picked up the ball and fired it tothe plate. Casey slid. The catcher took the ball and slapped it on him."Safe," the umpire said.
"Curses,"Chester Drinkwater muttered.
There was joy inMudville. The crowd poured onto the field and lifted Casey to its shoulders. Hehad struck out, but they hoisted him up and began to parade him around.
Casey saw Flossieout in center. The rest of the crowd had run in, and she was just standingthere, all alone, the tears flowing down her cheeks. "Let me down, let medown!" Casey cried, and he fought his way off the shoulders to the groundand ran to her, ran as fast as he could, ran even faster than he had when he'dcircled the bases.
Only, when hegrabbed her, Flossie said, "I hate you, Timothy Casey."
"Listen tome, Flossie. Dammit, listen to me! I tried. I tried! I tried! He just struck meout."
"I don'tbelieve you," she said, and she twisted away from him.
"But youmust," Casey screamed. "It happens. Somewhere, someday, somebody's evengonna beat John L. Sullivan. It happens."
"You cheatedus all!" Flossie cried.
Before he couldgo on, Casey felt a tap on his shoulder. All the Lynn players were filing past,leaving the Grounds, and there was Landis, the pitcher. "Mr. Casey, nomatter what happened, I just want you to know it was an honor facing you,"he said. "And I want you to know that that last pitch was the best one Iever hurled in all my life. I don't even know how I did it."
"It was suresome pitch," Casey said. "If you can throw that pitch again, you canstrike out King Kelly hisself."
Only Landis neverdid throw that pitch again. He tried. He tried holding the ball this way andthat, releasing it here and there, firing it fast and slow. But all he did wasgive himself a sore arm and hurry himself into the judiciary. Landis didn'trealize he'd mixed his sweat with his mustache wax and thrown the firstspitball. Because he didn't know that, he would never do it again, and it was14 more years before somebody invented the spitball.
Casey yankedLandis over to Flossie. "Tell her, tell her," he screamed atLandis.
"Well,ma'am" said Landis, "like I just said, that was the best pitch I everthrew."
"You hearthat, Flossie?" said Casey. "He just struck me out. He was justbetter'n me."
He chased afterher some more, but she wasn't convinced. "I don't believe you," shesaid. "I even saw you talking to Drinkwater just before you went to thebat."
"That wasbecause I told him I left his $500 and the silk dress with Phoebe at the ParkerHouse, because you were right and I don't want nothing to do with hisdeal." He grabbed Flossie by her cheeks and held her face before his."You hear me, Flossie? I love you! I love you!"
She appeared tobe considering this, so Casey pulled out all the stops. He sank to one knee,took her hands and said, "Florence Cleary, will you do me the honor ofbeing my wife?"
Flossie believedhim. "Yes, I will," she said.
Casey jumped tohis feet and kissed her, and all the cranks who were standing around watchingbegan to cheer. Then Casey said, "It's a good thing for you that you saidthat, because I'm also a rich man now. I got ten $1,000 bills in myshoes."
"I'll tellyou all about it sometime, but right now...." He reached over and took offthe horseshoe pin, because he'd just noticed that Flossie had put it back onupside down. "Don't ever wear a horseshoe pointing down, because then allthe luck will run out of it," he said, and he pinned it back on her, theright way.
Then he put hisarm around her, and they walked off together, toward the sunset, as a matter offact. "You mean if I'd worn the pin right you'd have hit a home run over myhead, the way you pointed?" Flossie said.
"Nah, nobodycould've hit that pitch," said Casey. "You gotta understand, darling—inbaseball, even the best ballists only get a hit one out of every three timesup."
Here is whathappened to the principals after June 2, 1888:
John L. Sullivankept his word to Richard Fox and, on July 8, 1889, fought Jake Kilrain,successfully defending his championship in 75 rounds. It was the lastbare-knuckle title bout ever fought.
Richard Foxremained a pillar of popular journalism, and The National Police Gazetteprospered until 1977. Fox's mix of sex, sport and crime serves many well eventoday, especially if you add weather.
Nuf Ced McGreeveycontinued to preside over his sports saloon until Prohibition. To this day, noBoston baseball team has won the championship of the world without Nuf Cedbeing present at all home games.
Jim Naismithinvented basketball in 1891.
ChesterDrinkwater became one of the richest men in America, gaining his fortunebuilding ball yards and amusement parks outside the city, running streetcarlines to them and selling real estate all along the way. The only locale wherethis scheme did not work was Mudville, where, at considerable loss, Drink-waterlet many land options lapse. Returning on the Titanic from his honeymoon withhis fourth wife, the Countess Nina von Munschauer, 23, Drinkwater went to awatery grave.
Grumpy old CyrusWeatherly, the town miser, refurbished Mudville Grounds after the exciting '88season, and for decades it was known as the Jewel of the Bushes. Taking thiscue, Alfred L. Evans Jr. urged his bank to support the redevelopment of theentire East Side, and the area became a national model for downtown revival.Only after World War I, when the East Side population had become largelyItalian, Lithuanian and Pole, were the old Mudville Grounds razed. In 1976 areal estate developer put up middle-class housing for blacks. The area is nowknown as Covent Gardens Estates, and on the actual site of the diamond whereCasey struck out is a 24-hour convenience store.
Timothy EX. Caseyfinished the '88 season with Mudville, but though he continued to have a fineyear, the events of those days in late May and early June seemed to haveextracted some spirit from him that he never regained. He and Flossie becameengaged, and on the day after the season ended in September, they eloped.
The Caseys spentthe next couple of years traveling in America, investing their fortune in primereal estate, buying downtown tracts in such promising minor league towns asDallas, Seattle and Los Angeles. However, Casey had never stopped thinkingabout what Mr. Evans had once said to him in Mudville. So when Flossie becamepregnant, he went back to school, enrolling, in the autumn of 1891, in the veryfirst freshman class at a small new institution that was known as LelandStanford Jr. University. He graduated with high honors in 1895.
The Caseyssettled in Stockton, Calif., where he quickly made his mark in trolleys.Flossie bore him four daughters, and Casey became a pillar of thecommunity—daily communicant, councilman and, finally, philanthropist.
Thayer's poembecame more and more famous, spawning vaudeville skits, books, paintings,songs, movies, even a whole opera. The supposedly fictional Casey becamesomething of an American Dauphin, because for years all sorts of washed-upballplayers maintained that they had been the model for the Mighty One. Butafter that famous day in Mudville, the real Casey only told one person who heactually was.
That was hisnephew George, son of Casey's lefthanded twin sister, Kate. Once in 1909, whenhe had to travel East on trolley business, Casey visited Kate in Baltimore, andthe young lad seemed so keen on baseball that Casey took him over to a cornertable in the family saloon on Conway Street and told him the tale of '88."But Uncle Timothy, why did Mr. Thayer end his poem the way he did?"young George asked.
"Aw, you knowsportswriters. They only write what makes a good story," Casey said.
Young Georgeespecially liked the part about Casey pointing to centerfield, daring toforetell a home run. "Imagine a player doin' a thing like that," Georgesaid.
Over the yearsCasey played a lot of golf. He was long off the tee but dicey around thegreens. He and Flossie traveled a lot—to Europe, to Lake Louise and to the 1932Los Angeles Olympics. They had an even dozen grandchildren, but, of course, thename Casey had run out.
Then, in thespring of 1941, Casey's health began to fail, and he took to his bed in June.He knew by then that the jig was up. He got weaker and weaker. It was the 75thsummer of his life.
Three of hisdaughters still lived around Stockton, but Mary Louise had moved to SanFrancisco, so Flossie called her on July 17 and said she had better come. Shebrought her youngest son, Casey's favorite grandchild, John Lawrence SullivanGambardella. They just made it to Stockton, to the old family house, in timeand went directly to the master bedroom, where the old man lay.
"Well,Johnny, how's tricks?" Casey said, just barely getting the words out. Hewas going fast. Peacefully, but fast, the sands of his time, 1867-1941.
"Oh, I'mO.K., Grandpop," the boy said, "but I heard on the radio the Indiansgot DiMaggio out tonight. So it ends at 56 in a row."
Casey shook hishead a bit, and he said, "Well, if he's any good, he'll get overit."
Mary Louisekissed her father, and then she stepped back next to her sisters so her mothercould stand closest to the old man. Flossie leaned down and kissed Casey gentlyon the forehead and squeezed his hand. He sighed, and his eyes began to close.He could all but see the angels now. But then, somehow, Casey forced one morebreath of life into his body, and he opened his eyes, even smiled a tiny littlebit. Looking up at his beloved Flossie, he said, "Oh, somewhere in thisfavored land, the sun is shining bright."
Then Casey closedoff his smile, turned down his eyes and died. Flossie kept hold of his hand andsaid, "The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts arelight."
The fourdaughters turned to look at one another, tears in their eyes, but wonderingwhat in the world had come over their mother. "And somewhere men arelaughing," Flossie went on. "And somewhere children shout." Shesmiled broadly and didn't say another word.
As for the oneother principal in this story, as for baseball, it grew to become the nationalpastime and lived happily ever after.
The Mudville team posed for this official photographat the Winifred Studios on May 18, 1888, two weeks before the famous game. Tosave money, the team owner, grumpy old Cyrus Weatherly (in top hat), onlyincluded the starting nine. Top row, left to right: Hughie Barrows, 3b; WilliamO. Flaherty, mgr; John Arthur Cooney, c; Barry O'Connor, p. Third row: Amos(Yesterday) Phillips, cf: Weatherly himself: Henry (Dandy Dutch) Bismarck, lb.Second row: Timothy F.X. Casey, rf; Johnny Flynn, 2b. First row: Ezekial(Salty) Phizer, 1f; Jimmy Blake, ss.