One of America’s favorite poems was written within a few yards from the old WCPA office on Chatham Street. Ernest Lawrence Thayer had just returned from California, via Washington, D.C. He had worked for the San Francisco Examiner and had one more comic piece to write for the Sunday edition. At his home on Chatham Street he wrote “Casey at the Bat” to complete his obligation to William Randolph Hearst, owner of the Examiner. It was published first on June 3, 1888, and was soon copied by paper after paper across the country. He then went into helping the Thayer family run their mill in Cherry Valley and did no further writing for publication.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey had stuck out.
Perhaps Thayer was inspired by the June 12, 1880, game when J.Lee Richmond for Worcester, against Cleveland, pitched the first perfect game in professional baseball, facing 27 hitters without any of them getting on base. The site of the old Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds is now the Becker College quad, where a small monument on Sever Street commemorates the event.