Over the past few years, I’ve frequently dipped into our newspaper’s archive to see how old-timey sportswriters dealt with the same storylines we deal with today. This is the first time my dips have taken me back to the 19th century.
See, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of “Casey at the Bat,” the Library of Congress enlisted the help of Dave Jageler and Charlie Slowes, getting the long-time radio voices of the Nats to offer their own interpretations of the poem. Please listen.
That made me curious to see the first time our paper mentioned that poem. This is what I came up with, from early October of 1890, two years after the poem was first published on in the San Francisco Examiner.
During Mr. Hopper’s stay in this city he has been the recipient of many social attentions, having been entertained every evening after his performance. On one of these occasions Mr. Hopper recited a poem entitled ‘Casey at the Bat,’ which was received with much enthusiasm. Since then he has received several requests to give the recitation during the performance of ‘Castles in the Air,’ at the National Theater, and so he has decided to repeat it on Saturday evening. It is a cleverly worded satire on the baseball craze.
And the next day, this.
With the matinee and evening performances to-day at the National, De Wolf Hopper will bring his first stellar engagement in this city to a close. The week has been most prosperous, the audiences having been large and demonstrative on every occasion, and Mr. Hopper and his admirable organization have been congratulated upon the success of his venture. The announcement that the star will add somewhat to the programme to-night by the introduction of his celebrated recitation, ‘Casey at the Bat,’ has attracted considerable attention among the lovers of the national sport, and there is no doubt but that a splendid audience will be present to enjoy this and the other good things so abundant in the merry opera.
Paywall that! Anyhow, listen to Charlie and Dave’s versions above. And the Library has a 1909 recording by that same De Wolf Hopper; you can listen to it here.