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Batter up! Just kidding Shmoopers. Ernest Thayer's "Casey at the Bat" is a baseball poem. No actual athletic ability or advanced sports knowledge is necessary for complete understanding and (perhaps) enjoyment of this poem. (Okay, you should probably at least know what these things are: pitcher, batter, strikes, outs, bases, and runs. If you read batter and thought about cakes or pancakes, please just… um, Google the word "baseball.")
"Casey at the Bat" is a thirteen-stanza ballad chronicling the last half-inning of a baseball game between the hometown team, Mudville, and their unnamed opponent. Mudville is behind by a score of 4-2 and there are just two outs left in the game. For you un-baseball types, that means things are looking very bleak. To make matters even worse, the next two batters are especially bad. If, by some miracle, these two batters were to reach base that would bring the team stud, Casey, to bat with the winning runs on base and Mudville would have a good chance to win.
And guess what. As they sometimes do, a miracle happens—twice. Both of those terrible players get hits and that brings Casey to home plate with a chance to win the game. The rest of the poem (from stanza 5-13) describes the crowd's reaction and Casey's at bat, from his approach to the plate to his ultimate (spolier alert!) failure: mighty Casey strikes out. Bummer. Yeah, we know the feeling.