Ernest Hemingway and Hugh Casey, the Artist and the Ballplayer


“We left about 1 a.m. I will always remember Ernest and Case walking arm in arm to the door, shaking hands with those big strong hands, saying so long, see you soon. Maybe in New York or on the road somewhere. Case and I went back to a hotel and up in the fire escape to our room. Nobody but God knows how much alike Case and old Ernest were.”
—Kirby Higbe, from The High Hard One

They were two of a kind, the baseball
player and the bestselling author,
hombres muy simpatico, off-season in
The Keys. The middle-aged macho,
full white beard and face aglow showing
the wild man the riggings, deepsea
fishing and all the rest that goes with it.
After, in the taverna, they toast
The Revolución with Cuba Libres, the biggest
bar joke of the mid-century: the drink
was nothing more than a rum and coke
with lime and the Revolution years away.
Later, still, Papa and Casey don lightweight
boxing gloves in the writer’s living room
and begin swinging, no holds barred, no
knockdown rules or regulations, just two
men punching themselves silly toward dawn,
a confrontation not even the wife
of the moment could stop by saying,
“Sure, keep it up. Break every stick
of furniture in the fucking place.
What difference does it make?”
Finally, the man who threw the wild
pitch in the World Series against
the Dodgers’ arch rivals, The Yankees,
the pitch that made Mickey Owens famous
and Casey a dark footnote in history,
shared one elemental fact with the man
who would win the Nobel Prize for Literature:
when all else fails, a shotgun in the mouth,
a last image that rips the back of your
head off.

The 2016 Charter Oak Award for Best Historical

We are pleased to announce this piece as a Finalist for The 2016 Charter Oak Award for Best Historical, honoring the independent press’ best writing on themes of historical people, places, events, objects, or ideas. The winners are selected by an external panel that judges all pieces blindly and selects the full list of 12 finalists from hundreds of entries. Alternating Current does not determine the final outcome for the judging; the external judges’ decisions are final.

ALAN CATLIN worked at his unchosen profession as a barman for thirty-four years in college bars, banquet houses, hotels, restaurants, a nightclub, and a neighborhood Irish bar, the latter for the last twenty-five years of his so-called career. He has published thousands of poems and stories since the mid-70s and has over sixty-five chapbooks and full-length books of prose and poetry to his credit. His most recent full-length collection is Alien Nation, a compilation of four thematically interconnected chapbooks. Among his many awards and citations are twenty Pushcart Prize nominations. He is currently the poetry editor of the online journal, Misfit Magazine.