One name alone is some times enough to conjure up an image: Kobe, Lebron, Arnie, Martina, Oprah, Raquel. Human or otherwise. Think Lassie, Secretariat, Jaws…
There are stories, myths, legends, moments frozen in time that have meant so much to so many, for such a long time: The Little Match Girl, Icarus, November 22, 1963, the Kirk Gibson 1988 world series home run, Neil Armstrong speaking from the moon.
Would that we could go back in history, at least on occasion, and undo something riddled and filled with sorrow. If we did, however, what would it mean for our history? Would it indeed alter all that has come to that point in time, and, if so, would things be better, worse, or the same?
Such great imponderables.
Well, truth is I caught up with Casey, yes, that Casey, the Mighty Casey, the one who struck out and left Mudville singing the blues ever since.
Yes, that Mudville, and yes somewhere the sun is shining bright, the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light… but evidently not in Mudville. Ever. Evahhhhh….
Well, Casey has moved on. He no longer plays ball. He went into his dad’s business which, of all things, is the practice of law.
Casey, the one you have memorialized as forever whiffing, whose sad sack strike out is emblazoned on the hearts of all, young and old, boy and girl, man and woman, baseball fan or otherwise… Casey, the great human tragedy. So much hope there, dashed like a fierce wave completely crashing onto the rocks. Like an invincible titanic-sized-boat meeting an ice berg for the first and last time… The Beatles sang a song about it “I don’t know why you say hello I say good bye…”
“I make up for it every time I help someone out. That’s the main reason I do this law stuff. I try to help people, the little guy. I don’t strike out often here. I strike gold!”
Casey is married, by the way. Has three kids. Two daughters. One son. They don’t talk about “that story…” The kids just know he’s famous, and they know it wasn’t all that good of a thing he’s famous for, but they love him to bits anyway. He lets them ride on his shoulders, eats ice cream with them, he’s nice to mom; in fact mom kisses him on occasion, so the kids figure he’s probably ok, after all.
There was one time, at a barbecue, where a neighbor heckled Casey a bit, and ol’ Case lost his temper and nearly threw the guy half a block down the street, but other than that, he’s fine, cool, calm…. Moved on.
He has done some ceremonial pitches before ball games. Even did a “pitch” for a local ford dealership (which made us all wince – the slogan was “Don’t you strike out – these deals are too good not to hit them out of the park!”).
But, between just us… if you would keep it confidential: There’s the Priest at the Church they belong to. Nice fellow, older.
“Though it’s confidential you see, I will share with you that not less than once a month our fine gentleman Casey comes to see me, and we talk, and he still shakes his head about what could have been, instead of what did happen…. And I remind him of the importance, the critical, vital importance of faith, and he nods in agreement, and he’s good for a awhile, for a few, until he comes back and asks if there is a way to change what happened, and if not, then how to accept it and really over come it, and I tell him you have every day since, just look at who you are, and count your blessings… I remind him, every time: No one died that day, Casey. It was after all just a game, one stinkin’ game, and while there was no joy in Mudville there sure was a lot of celebrating elsewhere. There was a team that won that fateful day. They were entitled to be joyous. We never hear about that, do we? We just have that image seared in our hearts and souls of the forlorn… trudging home from that great debacle…”
A trivia question that few ever get right, and which has never been on Jeopardy… it’s that obscure: What is the name of the pitcher who struck Casey out?
You have any idea?
How is that Casey is the one who is so famous? What about the guy who struck him out?
I tell you what… We remember the losses more than the wins, or it sure seems like it. What’s up with that?
The good news: There are sequels, be it Terminator; Back to the Future; Spider Man; Indiana Jones; Star Wars. There are sequels and there are do-overs and now it is time, far past time, while Casey is still with us.
Let’s reeeeeeee-do it!
For sure: I like this ending a lot better. Come on! History can change! Mighty Casey did not strike out this time! Mighty Casey was mighty, is mighty, remains mighty, and that’s how it was always supposed to be, and will be forever more.
Folks, it has come to this, and it can now be said: Before Mighty Casey swung his last, before he strode that last time to the plate, before he rounded the bases and tipped his hat for a final farewell, he came to the plate once again, strode up there, with that same sneer, that same visceral confidence… not a dream this, not a fantasy… and not make believe. He asked for, he prayed for, he pleaded for a do over. The baseball Gods are merciful, and his prayers were answered!
That afternoon, family in the stands, and a great, abiding, diverse, shirt sleeved flock of baseball fans, me included… Yes, me included, let me be clear. I was there. I am witness! We saw it. We all saw it. We all watched. We all heard it. We all know!
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 having fun;
there is total elation in Mudville – mighty Casey hit a huge home run!