Thursday, June 15, 2017

Treasures From the Worcester Room: Casey at the Bat

Did you know that earlier this month, Worcester celebrated Casey at the Bat week in commemoration of the 129th anniversary of Ernest Thayer's famous baseball poem?  In honor of that, today's blog post is about one of the most unique and fascinating additions to the library's Worcester Room Collection; a handwritten copy of the poem gifted to the library by Ernest Thayer himself in 1896.

Casey at the Bat is of course well-known to baseball and poetry enthusiasts alike.  The poem, telling the legend of star baseball player Casey, and his ill-fated strikeout was an instant sensation when it was first published in 1888, and has been endlessly preformed, adapted, parodied and honored in the following years.  However, what some might not know, was that the author was a local Massachusetts man.  He was born in Lawrence, and raised in Worcester.  At some point, he seems to have made the acquaintance of Worcester Public Library Director Samuel Green, which led to our library acquiring this great treasure.

Judging by a letter written to Samuel Green from Thayer that was included with the handwritten poem, it seems that Green had contacted the author and requested that he donate a handwritten manuscript copy of Casey.  In the letter, Thayer notes that while his "handwriting is not easily legible," he thinks that the enclosed copy of the poem would be of interest to the "baseball enthusiast."  While the poem states there is "no joy in Mudville," the Worcester Public Library is certainly happy to have received such a gift.  The poem, which has undergone archive-quality preservation serves as one of the highlights of the library's Worcester Room Collection, and is just one example of the amazing items that the Worcester Room Collection holds.

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