Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday's Favorite OTR

Favorite Story: “Casey at the Bat” 4/17/48

“Casey at the Bat” is a great poem, but it’s not really that long. So how do you turn it into a half-hour radio show?

You give Casey a back-story, of course. It turns out the star of the Mudville team has a wife. He loves her, but she’s unhappy living in an unsophisticated small town. She’s equally displeased that their son keeps skipping school to see his dad play ball.

All things considered, she’d rather live in a big city, so she arranges for a scout from the Philadelphia Athletics to come see Casey. But Casey doesn’t want to move to Philly, especially after his “helpful” manager explains that in the big city you always have to wear a tie and can only talk in whispers while out in public.

It all makes for a witty and pleasant half-hour, with events leading up to the manager (who serves as narrator) reading the original poem once that point in the story is reached.

I noticed one little historical glitch in the episode. Ernest Thayer wrote “Casey at the Bat” in 1888. In the context of the Favorite Story adaptation, it’s mentioned that Thayer wrote the poem after seeing Casey play in Mudville, making the events of that game famous because of his poem.

But when the Philadelphia scout is coming to see Casey play, it’s mentioned that the Athletics are a new team, partly owned by manager Connie Mack. This is true, but (as I’m sure you all know without having to look it up) it sets the story firmly in 1901—13 years after Thayer wrote the poem.

Interestingly, the Disney animated short based on the poem (produced two years before this radio show) also jumped the story forward in time, setting it in 1902.

But what the hey. No matter when the story takes place, there never is any joy in Mudville.

Click HERE to listen or download.

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