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From Mudville to Putzville: Kessler at the Bat

Mikhail Horowitz
June 7, 2013
On the 125th anniversary of the publication of Ernest Thayer's "Casey at the Bat" in the San Francisco Chronicle, June 3, 1888. by Mikhail Horowitz

(music: "Take Me Out . . .")

Fashion Moses with batIt looked, well, all farkokte for the Putzville nine that day; The score—don’t ask—was 4 to 2. You heppy now? Hokeh. And so when Plotkin plotzed at first, and Schwartz popped up to third, Already y’hey sh’mey rabbo was in the ballpark heard. A couple shlumps got up to go, the others shrugged, and stayed (For box seats on the field, hoo boy! their tukheses they paid); They thought, If only Kessler maybe gives the ball a zetz, We’d shimmy through the shtetl and forget about the Mets!

(music: freylekhe)

But Stein preceded Kessler, as did his nephew, Moe, And Stein a real shmegegee was, and Moe was just a shmo; So maybe now for Kessler they should bother not to wait— Moshiakh had a better chance of shlepping to the plate. But Stein, he blooped a bingle, and his mother cried, Mein Gott! And Moshe clubbed a double, I should drop dead on the spot; And when they finished running and bent wheezing at the waist, There was Moe farklempt on second and Stein on third, farshteyst? So now from all those Putzville fans was such a big to-do, They rose and davened in a wave, a hundred shofars blew; A host of angels wept to hear a thousand khazns sing, For Kessler, Rebbe Kessler, he was coming up to swing.

(music: ceremonial)

There was shmaltz on Kessler’s tallis as he stepped into the box, In his beard were crumbs of matse, small piece cheese, a bisl lox, And when he shook his shtrayml, drenching half the fans with sweat, No goyim in the crowd could doubt—’twas Kessler at the bet. And now the mystic, Kabbalistic pitch comes floating in, And Kessler’s brow is furrowed, and he slowly strokes his chin; He comprehends that long before Creation had begun, This pitch existed somewhere . . . but then he hears, “Strike vun!” From the stands (donated by the Steins) the whole mishpokhe moaned, A yente started kvetching and a balabuste groaned; “Hey, ump!” an angry moyl cried, “I’ll cut you like a fish!” So, nu? They would have cut him, but Kessler muttered, “Pish!” With a smile of pure rakhmones, great Kessler’s ponem shone, He stilled the boiling moyl, he bade the game go on; He yubba-dubba-dubba’ed as the pious pitcher threw, But he yubba-dubba’ed once too much—the umpire shrugged, “Vot? It’s not for you good enough? Strike two!” “Feh!” cried the maddened khosids, and Elijah echoed, “Feh!” But a puzzled look from Kessler made the audience go, “Heh?” They saw his payess rise and fall, they saw his tsitsis twitch, They knew that Rebbe Kessler vouldn’t miss another pitch. The smile on Kessler’s ponem now is more profound, and keener; He glows with all the preternatural light of the Shekhinah; And now the pishka-pishka pitch so big and fat it gets; And now the air is shattered by the force of Kessler’s zetz! Oy. Somewhere in Jerusalem a grandson plants a tree; A klezmer band is playing—so, the clarinet’s off-key; And somewhere else a shmoyger with the rebbetzin has flirted; But there is no joy in Putzville—mighty Kessler has converted. (“The name is Kelly, if you don’t mind!”)

(music: end of “Take Me Out …”)

Mikhail Horowitz is a contributing writer to Jewish Currents, among his many misfortunes. He is a performance artist, poet, and actor whose works include the CDs Live, Jive & Over 45 (2000) and Poor, On Tour, & Over 54 (2007, both with Gilles Malkine), as well as the book Rafting Into the Afterlife (2007) and the DVD, Too Small To Fail (2011, also with Gilles Malkine), available at