Caesar at the Bat, Part II

"Walk softly and carry a big stick." - Julius Caesar

In a never-ending fascination with most variants of “Casey at the Bat” that continually play their way through the theater of our collective baseball consciousness, here’s another one that has landed and begged to be blogged. It’s is similar to one that first wrote its way through me last September upon our return from Rome, but I like this one better. Unfortunately, the Muse ran away before this little dance received its just title and I am left with little more to say than – here is “Caesar at the Bat, Part II:” (by Bill MCurdy)

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Roman Guard that day:
 The score stood IV to II, with but one inning more to play.
 And then when Cassius died at first, and Brutus did the same, A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast; They thought, if only Caesar could get but a whack at that -
We’d put up even money, now, with Caesar at the bat.

But Claudius preceded Caesar, as did also Marcus Tony, And the former was a lulu and the latter was a phony; So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat, For there seemed but little chance of Caesar’s getting to the bat.

But Claudius let drive a single, to the wonderment of all, And Marc, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball; And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred, There was Tony a-safe at second and old Claude a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the Forum, it startled Cleo’s cat; It knocked upon the Gates of Rome, and recoiled all idle chat, For Caesar, mighty Caesar, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Caesar’s manner as he stepped into his place; The fact we wore no pants, this day, caused a blush of mild disgrace. And then, responding to the jeers, he quickly plucked a leaf, and placed it where it ought to be, to sighs of great relief.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt; Five thousand tongues applauded, when he wiped them on, what – his shirt? Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip, defiance gleamed in Caesar’s eye, a sneer curled Caesar’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air, And Caesar stood a-watching it, in haughty grandeur there. Close by the sturdy batsman, the ball unheeded sped -
”That ain’t my style,” hailed Caesar. “Strike I,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar, Like the beating of the legion-waves – on a stern and distant shore. “Kill him! Kill the empire-spoiler!” shouted someone in the stand; and it’s likely they’d a-killed him too – had not Caesar raised his hand.

With a smile of Roman charity, great Caesar’s visage shone; he stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on; He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew; but Caesar still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike II.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and an echo answered fraud; But one scornful look from Caesar and the audience was awed. They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain, And they knew that mighty Caesar wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Caesar’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate; He pounds with august violence – his bat upon the plate. And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go, And now the air is shattered by the force of Caesar’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright; The violins play somewhere, and somewhere wine pours light, And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; but there is no joy in Rome today – naked Caesar has struck out.

**********************************************

Other News: Lefty O’Neal, the author of “Dreaming in the Majors, Living in the Bush,” has asked that I inform everyone “that  my article started on milb.com today.” That’s all I can tell you on that one. You will have go to mlb.com and search it out.

Jimmy Wynn Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Deerbrook Mall, Tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 12th, 3-5 PM. Jimmy and I will be there to talk about his book and have Jimmy sign copies for book purchasers. If you can make it, please join us. Deerbrook Mall is located out 59N near Humble.


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2 Responses to “Caesar at the Bat, Part II”

  1. Mike McCroskey Says:

    Well done, Bill. However, in your scenario, had Caesar actually knocked one out of the Coliseum, the score still would have only been IX to V.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thanks for the Latin heads-up, Mike. This error unites with the same reason I’m never sure which Super Bowl is taking place. The correction, of course, from the erroneous initial “IX – II” stated tally to the correct “IV-II” difference has now been made – and the full drama of Caesar’s moment was restored. I make errors, but it’s always nicer to be rescued by the kinder eyes of a friendly editor. I tip my hat to you, Latin scholar. Next time I foray into numeral numbers, I shall count on you to get me there accurately.

      Uncorrected, the headlines on this one might have read:

      BARBARIANS CRUSH ROMANS AT THE COLISEUM, 9-2.
      Not-So-Mighty Caesar Fans To End Hopeless Effort.

      Next Day Headlines …

      SPORTS EDITOR OF ROMAN TIMES FACES LIONS IN COLISEUM TODAY.

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