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Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

Casey at the Bat

Posted by Tracy Poff on August 16, 2011

Having just reviewed Dumbo at Bat, this seems like a good time to look at the poem that book’s title refers to: “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer.

“Casey at the Bat” is a lovely little poem, telling the story of a baseball game that wasn’t going well for Mudville–down two points in the final inning, with two strikes, and their star batter, Casey, behind Flynn and Blake in the lineup, who aren’t expected to succeed.

Then, miracle of miracles, Flynn and Blake both hit the balls and get on base! A good hit from Casey might win them the game. Casey, arrogant, lets the first two pitches by, and then prepares to hit the third pitch, but…

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 Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.

This one’s great, and it’s been adapted and parodied more times than I can count. Thayer originally published it in the June 3, 1888 edition of The San Francisco Examiner, under the pseudonym “Phin.”

A quick search of Amazon reveals a very impressive looking recent edition, with illustrations by Christopher Bing.

This is a poem everyone should be familiar with. I suggest that anyone who doesn’t know it go and read it, immediately.

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Dumbo at Bat

Posted by Tracy Poff on August 16, 2011

Dumbo taught us that sometimes an elephant can fly, but can an elephant play baseball? That’s the question in the eighth book of the Disney Fun-to-Read Library, Dumbo at Bat.

The circus has to take a break for a few days, because the wagon needs painted. Everyone is sad, because they won’t have anything to do, when Timothy Mouse suggests that they can play baseball. Everyone quickly agrees that this is a good idea, and they plan a game of baseball between the clowns and the animals.

Everyone practices hard, but poor Dumbo just can’t seem to get anything right. When he tries to hit or catch the ball, he misses, and he trips over his ears when he tries to run. It seems that Dumbo might cause his team to lose, so when the day of the game comes, they tell him to watch, and see if he can’t learn to play baseball, that way.

When the last inning comes around, the clowns gain a 5-4 lead. The animals do their best, but Giraffe is hurt and can’t keep playing. So it’s up to Dumbo to try to stop the clowns gaining any more points. Timothy tells him to believe in himself, and Dumbo manages to catch a ball, giving the clowns three outs.

In the last half, Lion is on base, and Dumbo is at bat he swings, twice, and twice the ringmaster, acting as umpire, calls “Strike!”. At last, Dumbo hits the ball, and manages to slide home, winning the game. The clowns don’t understand how he did it, but Timothy explains that Dumbo believed in himself, and that was all he needed.

Though the title refers to Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s 1888 poem “Casey at the Bat“, of course this book has a happier ending, for the animals anyway. It seems a little unfair that Dumbo just magically gets better at the last moment–after all, the clowns practiced hard, too, and had done very well. Still, the lesson that it’s important to do your best and believe in yourself is a good one.

The art is nice. The backgrounds are simple, as usual for books in this series, but the characters are lively, and it’s great to see the baseball diamond full of animals and clowns.

Dumbo at Bat is a good book, with a decent story, fun art, and an important lesson. I’d certainly recommend it for young children.

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