Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 14:58:32 -0500
From: Gerald Cohen gcohen[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UMR.EDU
Subject: "Mudville" update
I have received the book _Ernest Thayer's "Casey at the Bat"_, by Jim
Moore and Natalie Vermilyea and now have the following thoughts on
1) There seems to be no doubt that Thayer had Stockton, California in mind
when he wrote the poem. Page 234 says: "The poem...was obviously written
to amuse Bay Area readers. because the mountain, the valley, the flat, and
the dell (delta) evoke Stockton--Slough City--Mudville, as do the names of
The authors add on p.238: "Thayer probably had in mind Mount Diablo,
'the silent sentinel of the San Joaquin Valley,' the landmark that guided
the first wagon trains to the Golden State in 1841, to the ranch at the
foot of the mountain where Dr. John Marsh, a Harvard man [G. Cohen: as was
Thayer] was awaiting the party with a dinner of pork and hot tortillas.
Mount Diablo plays an important part in the history of Stockton, and was
incorporated into the great seal of the city in 1851... It was quite a
scene Thayer had concocted for the opening act, with a spectacular
Back to p. 234, where the authors start devoting 2 1/2 pages to the
players mentioned in the poem:
a) Cooney --Billy Cooney played outfield for Stockton in 1887.
b) Flynn--Dan Flynn played for Stockton in 1887 and part of 1888 as pitcher
c) Blake--"There was no Blake on the Stockton nine in the California League
in 1887 or 1888, but there was a player named Blakiston who could be
'Blake, the much despis-ed'; he played for Stockton in 1888."
2) Even with the above case made for Stockton, one cannot rule out the
possibility that Thayer's native state, Massachusetts influenced his
thinking to some degree. The authors (p.240) regard Boston superstar Mike
Kelly as the possible inspiration for the character Casey: "Mike had all
the qualifications...; last but not least, he struck out swinging one day
in San Francisco when he wished he hadn't."
Also, the authors write (p.236): "The other player
mentioned--Barrows--is a mystery, although there was a player on the 1871
Boston Red Stockings named Frank Barrows. He might have made a deep
impression on a Worcester lad of eight [G. Cohen: i.e., on Thayer]."
3) Let's see if the Massachusetts Historical Society is able to locate a
Mudville in Massachusetts and if Thayer would likely have known about it.
Evidently no book or article on "Casey at the Bat" has yet mentioned such
gcohen[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]umr.edu