One hundred twenty-five years ago, Ernest Thayer wrote the famous poem Casey at the Bat, immortalizing the mighty Casey’s failure in the clutch. Earlier this year, in a softball game with the Charlotte Bobcats, Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey had an opportunity to redeem the Casey name:
The outlook wasn’t good for the Raptors Ten that day;
The score was twelve to eight, and with little left to play,
Michael Jordan’s Charlotte’s Bobcats held the upper softball hand;
“Raptors, keep your chins up,” Coach Dwane Casey did command.
T’was the bottom of the seventh, in a seven inning game;
The title of league champion the Bobcats could soon claim;
Lounging in his denim shorts, Jordan chomped a cookie,
And gave the stare of death to the tall, Lithuanian rookie.
The first pitch skittered past the cleated feet of Valunciunas;
“Dance, Big Man,” yelled one loud fan, “Come on — Tommy Tune us!”
Weights had made him broader, but this Jonas brother still
Had not had much diamond time; he grounded to the hill.
Daye popped out to second and the Raps had one out left;
In softball as in hoops, their trophy shelf bereft;
But plucky Terrence Ross legged out an infield hit,
And turned and said to Casey, “Raptors never quit!”
Gray did club a double, scoring fleety Ross,
And in the on-deck circle, Rudy Gay did floss,
In the lit’ral sense, that is; there was food by his incisor,
Dwane Casey rolled his eyes beneath his golfer’s visor.
Gay deftly worked the count and on the sixth pitch earned a walk;
Michael’d seen enough; he said, “Kid, give me the rock!
Hit the showers, Josh McRoberts—a real closer’s here!”
The hot sun glinted brightly off the hoop in MJ’s ear.
One more up ‘til Casey, the Raptors faithful knew;
T’would be much warmer comfort, if the outs they’d left were two,
But the outs were only one, and the force-outs at three bases;
Johnson stopped outside the box to double-knot his laces.
He weakly hit a single; MJ looked disgusted;
Cheers came from the Raptors fans for the hitter they most trusted;
His bat, it was aluminum; his constitution steel;
His will was made of iron; his visor a bright teal.
Dwane Casey dug his back foot in and returned MJ’s glare;
When it came to the dramatic, Dwane Casey had a flair;
But the first pitch rainbowed by him, and the umpire called, “Strike One!”
Silently the Raptors feared their title hopes were done.
Casey smiled to reassure them, He was mighty; it was true,
But Jordan’s second offering was declared, “Stee-rike Two!”
With velociraptors on the ropes, with Jurassic nearly Dark,
Dwane aimed the fat end of his bat toward the far end of the park.
That third pitch hung forever, like a crop that won’t get ripe,
And Casey puffed his cheeks as he swung his gleaming pipe;
That ping did sing for miles, those who heard it say,
And that little red-laced pearl did forever fly away.
As he crossed the plate, Dwane said, “Let that be a lesson
To those who doubt and hate, to those who seek to lessen
The legacy of Caseys, maligned by weak and wack;
Today we’ve seen the truth – Mighty Casey just struck back.”