Deford ( Everybody's All-American ) uses Ernest Thayer's classic poem "Casey at the Bat" to create a whimsical tale blending fact, fiction and fantasy. Timothy Casey is a brilliant young "ballist" (as they were called back in 1888) whose extraordinary hitting has galvanized the town of Mudville. Living near Boston, Casey falls in love with beautiful Florence Cleary, a recent Irish immigrant working as a maid. "Mighty Casey" also meets Chester Drinkwater, an unscrupulous businessman who lies to the young ballplayer and for a price convinces him to leave the Mudville Nine. After splitting with Flossie over Drinkwater, Casey encounters Richard Fox, the editor of the National Police Gazette , who's in Boston to convince the great John L. Sullivan to defend his boxing crown. Casey's altercation with the drunk and overweight champion is the next event in this cleverly extended what-if, tracing fictitious events that lead up to the actual at-bat immortalized by the Thayer poem. Deford writes lovingly of a time long past and his set-up of the famous at-bat is nicely conceived. A shorter version this book appeared originally in Sports Illustrated , and the novel does read like a magazine piece stretched (beyond its modest limits) between the covers of a book.
Used availability for Frank Deford's Casey On the Loose
May 1989 : USA Hardback