Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 22:39:25 -0500

From: Alan Baragona baragonasa[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]VAX.VMI.EDU

Subject: Re: 'Mudville"

As far as I can tell, Thayer had no connection to Kansas. He went from

Massachusetts directly to San Francisco, then traveled around Europe

reporting for Hearst, then settled in San Francisco and wrote "Casey at

the Bat." Though Gardner's annotation is to the poem, the reference to

"Centerville," which isn't mentioned in "Casey," makes me think he might

be locating Mudville in Kansas to fit William Schuman's opera _The

Mighty Casey_ rather than Thayer's original. Thayer denied that there

was any real-life model for Casey, so there needn't be a real-life model

for Mudville. Of course, he might have seen the name on a map of Kansas

in the 1880's and thought it was funny and suitable. But I would agree

that in all likelihood he made up the name as a generic description of a

19th-century American hick town that could be in the mid-West, New

England, or California. It is, after all, "A Ballad of the Republic."

Gregory {Greg} Downing wrote:

At 09:24 PM 12/15/97 -0500, you (Alan Baragona baragonasa[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]VAX.VMI.EDU ) wrote:

However, Martin Gardner's _Annotated Casey at the Bat_ has the


"In 1887, the year of the immortal game, Mudville was a farming village

near the east border of Anderson County, Kansas, about sixty miles

southeast of Topeka. It was on the south bank of Polecat Creek, seven

miles west of where Centerville, in Linn County, is still located.

Neither Mudville nor the creek exist today."

I must admit, though, that the rest of Gardner's note makes me wonder if

this account is serious. He continues "The poignant story of why and

how Mudville faded from the map is told by Grantland Rice in his poem,

'Mudville's Fate.'" And then Gardner recounts the story of the poem as

if it were historically accurate, even though it mentions Casey and his

wife and 8 children.

I too would be somewhat skeptical, since this is the type of situation in

which I have often seen the drive to identify a "real" place when it is

deliberately generic and fictional. Is there anything about the poem in

question that seems to demand a particular historical location? It's the

story of a guy who thinks he's a big shot, and (acting cavalierly) strikes

out at the big moment in the game. When did Thayer have information about or

an association with Kansas?