Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 09:38:15 EST


Subject: The ephemeral Mudville

Alan Baragona just wrote,

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."

I suspect we really are trying too hard. This quest has all the earmarks of

the perennial dispute on about which Springfield the writers

of "The Simpsons" are "really" situating the weekly cartoon show in; every

week or so various posters chime in with new clues based on that week's

episode. I would imagine that similarly there is no true Mudville per se--as

Alan suggests, a general rather than specific label. --Larry