What a Classic! I remember as a young man reading the stories of baseball’s great games. I never quite understood why the old writers used “the Goat” in so many of those game recreations. Over the years, I’ve come to admire that description and marvel at how it remains in the game.
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the
Mudville Dodger nine that day;
The score stood
four one to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when
Cooney Ethier died at first, and Manny Burrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast:
They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at that,
They’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.
Baseball is so rich in history and tradition. Unfortunatley, for some.. the tradition of the Goat is still very much alive in the richness of the game. Matt Holliday appears to be heading to that status after two games in the NLDS. He was picked on in Game 1 by Joe Torre strategy. Torre refused to allow Pujols the opportunity to beat him, opting instead to place the pressure on Holliday behind him. Over and over.. the strategy worked. It worked again in Game 2 when he intentionally walked Pujols again to get to Holliday. Finally, Matt came through with a Home Run and it appeared that he might shed that Goat monicker. Instead, he may even go from Goat … to Hero!
But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a pudd’n, and the latter was a fake,
So upon the stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little hope of Casey’s getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much-despised, tore the cover off the ball,
And when the dust had lifted, and they saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe on second, and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then came that fateful 9th inning for Matt. Loney’s two out soft liner directly at him… Holliday dropped it! In and of itself, that wouldn’t be all that bad. Except for that “thing” we’ve talked about before… Home Field Advantage. There was a sudden surge of hope in the crowd and in the Dodger dugout. No where was that surge of hope more apparent than in the face and eyes of Casey Blake. Say what you will… call it a walk. A simple walk. But, friends… it was far from a simple walk. It was Casey at the Bat. He battled over and over.. fouling off pitches, taking close ones. It was a marvelous at bat. And when Casey drew that walk from Franklin. You could see the defeat in Franklin’s eyes. He had lost the battle and was soon to lose the war.
Then from five thousand throats at more there rose a mighty yell,
It rumbled in the valley and it rattled on the dell,
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled on the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped up to his place,
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face,
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt,
Five thousand tongues applauded as he wiped them on his shirt.
And when the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye; a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
The Casey Blake at bat took alot out of Franklin, sure. But it was the opposite side that gained momentum and hope with each battled for pitch. So much so that by the time Ronnie Belliard reached the plate… the team in the dugout and the fans in the stands were in a hyper frenzy of belief. It was inevitable. The game would at least be tied. There was not a glimmer of doubt. First pitch from Franklin… exactly that happened. It was too much to ask of Franklin to stop what 50,000+ believed in.
And now the leather-covered sphere comes hurtling through the air,
And Casey stands a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped–
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there arose a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on some stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone in the stand,
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone:
He stilled the rising tumult, he bade the game go on,
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew,
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”
“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud,
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed;
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.
Belliard’s Game tying single sent the stadium over the top. Dodger Stadium is as raucous as there is in the league when the fans are pumped up. And they were pumped up for sure after Ronnie knocked in the tying run. What a game. What a swing of emotions from both teams. All that remained was to have the winning run cross the plate. Who didn’t believe that would happen?
The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in St. Lou
Mudville–mighty Casey Mark did not strke out!
Ernest L. Thayer
Incredibly, Mark Loretta was 0-15 lifetime against Franklin. Sometimes though, you just can’t stop the “thing” from happening. Franklin could not. The Cards could not. Nobody could. It was going to happen. You could see it in their eyes. Congratulations to Mark Loretta. You are Yesterday’s Hitter!
Watch the game changing plays Here!