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Ernest Thayer

Ernest ThayerAKA Ernest Lawrence Thayer

Born: 14-Aug-1863
Birthplace: Lawrence, MA
Died: 21-Aug-1940
Location of death: Santa Barbara, CA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Santa Barbara Cemetery, Santa Barbara, CA

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Poet, Baseball

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Casey at the Bat

Ernest Thayer studied philosophy under William James at Harvard, and later wrote a weekly column for classmate William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. It was the Examiner that first published Thayer's ode to baseball, Casey at the Bat, on 3 June 1888, under the pen name "Phin". It was republished a few weeks later in the New York Sun, but its popularity came mostly from almost 40,000 performances of the poem by comedian DeWolf Hopper (1858-1935).

Thayer's father owned a prosperous wool mill and the family was wealthy, so Thayer worked only sporadically, for his father's mills when he was young, and as a newspaper columnist later when the spirit struck him. The few other poems he wrote were generally light, comic, and forgettable. Toward the end of his life he returned to philosophy, writing several articles on the topic, but found to his frustration that he was increasingly well known for a poem he had written in just a few hours when he was 24 years old. Numerous rumors and theories persisted for decades (and still do) about Casey's true identity, but Thayer repeatedly said that the poem was not based on any particular ball game or players. He rarely read "Casey" in public, and could not recite it from memory. He never collected or sought any royalties from the comedian Hopper, or from any of the poem's frequent republications.

Father: Edward Davis Thayer (wool magnate, b. 22-Jul-1822, d. 12-May-1903)
Mother: Ellen Maria Darling Thayer (b. 21-Jun-1829, d. 16-May-1887)
Brother: Albert Smith Thayer (attorney, b. 6-Jan-1854, d. 1942)
Brother: Edward Darling Thayer (wool magnate, b. 24-Jun-1856, d. 17-Jun-1907)
Sister: Ellen Olive Thayer Clary (b. 10-Apr-1861, d. 15-Feb-1932)
Wife: Rosalind Buel Hammett Thayer (b. 28-Sep-1875, m. 9-Sep-1913, d. 13-Mar-1956, no children)

    High School: Worcester High School, Worcester, MA (1881)
    University: BA Philosophy, Harvard University (1885)

    Harvard Lampoon Editor (1884-85)
    The San Francisco Examiner Columnist (1886-88)
    New York Evening Journal Columnist (1896-97)
    Phi Beta Kappa Society
    English Ancestry Paternal

Author of books:
Casey at the Bat (1900, poem, illustrated)

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