Patrick at the Bat
by Patrick T. Reardon

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds his bat, he glares ahead, he readies for…but wait.
From out the dugout comes old Mac, the Mudville chief o’ state.
He points a finger at ol’ Case, and clears him from the plate.

“I’ve had it with you, diva. You’re just a psychiatric.
Get out of here, and we will win with ‘Thunder-hitter’ Patrick.”
“Fraud!” cries the maddened thousands. “No, no, not ‘Thunder-hitter.’”
The name’s a joke, a josh, a jest. They are outraged and embittered.

Patrick’s average is .091. He has no vicious clout.
None in the crowd have any faith that Patrick won’t strike out.
He is not just a hoodoo, but also a devil’s food cake.
But here he comes, his eyes so wide, up to the sacred plate.

There is fear in Patrick’s manner as he steps into his place.
There is gloom in Patrick’s bearing and terror on his face.
“Fraud!” cries the maddened thousands. But Mac has quite a scheme.
He’s bet, you see, all his dough on a win for the other team.

Two quick strikes on weakling swings, and Patrick’s in a hole.
The Mudvilles need three runs to win. He’s praying for his soul.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it wing,
And now the crowd is shattered by Patrick’s empty swing.

A strike out, sure, but, wait, look now. The catcher missed the ball.
As Patrick lumbers down the line, the catcher trips and falls.
Flynn and Blake, they both touch home, and Patrick heads for two.
The catcher throws. The shortstop waits. The toss is all askew.

At third, the Thunder-Hitter turns and heads now for home base.
The guy in right, he throws the pill and so it is a race.
The catcher reaches, grabs the ball as Patrick nears the plate.
And in the cloud of dust and blood, the umpire signals………….“Safe!”

PHOTO: Patrick T. Reardon, a Chicagoan born and bred, is a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees. He would have abandoned the writing life if he could have played first base for the Yankees.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Most people are familiar with “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. I borrowed some of his lines and used them to new purpose in this alternate-universe version of Casey’s tragedy.  I also relied on the reader’s knowledge of the original poem so as not to have to explain, for instance, who Flynn and Blake are. Unlike Thayer, I didn’t add a final verse of the world as it existed after the game. In my mind, I guess, I think time should stop forever at the final moment, an eternal freeze-frame.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon had an .091 batting average during his Little League career, but he played a mean first base.