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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 1 E 35 The Mighty Casey

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The catcher contemplates his smoking glove.

Rod Serling: What you're looking at is a ghost, once alive but now deceased. Once upon a time, it was a baseball stadium that housed a major league ball club known as the Hoboken Zephyrs. Now it houses nothing but memories and a wind that stirs in the high grass of what was once an outfield, a wind that sometimes bears a faint, ghostly resemblance to the roar of a crowd that once sat here. We're back in time now, when the Hoboken Zephyrs were still a part of the National League, and this mausoleum of memories was an honest-to-Pete stadium. But since this is strictly a story of make believe, it has to start this way: once upon a time, in Hoboken, New Jersey, it was tryout day. And though he's not yet on the field, you're about to meet a most unusual fella, a left-handed pitcher named Casey.
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Air date: June 17, 1960

"The Mighty Casey" is the 35th episode of the first season of The Twilight Zone.

"Mouth" McGarry (Jack Warden) is the beaten-down manager of a terrible last-place baseball team, the Hoboken Zephyrs. Shortly after the GM vows to fire Mouth, one Dr. Stillman shows up at practice. Dr. Stillman brings with him one Casey, a young left-handed pitcher. As Casey takes the mound for a tryout, Dr. Stillman reveals to Mouth that Casey is not actually a human being, but a robot that Dr. Stillman himself invented just three weeks ago. Mouth is in the process of dismissing Dr. Stillman as a lunatic when Casey starts pitching, and shows himself to be as supernaturally talented as one might imagine a robot pitcher to be. Mouth immediately signs Casey to a contract and the team goes on a winning streak—until the truth is revealed.

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Rod Serling: Once upon a time, there was a major league baseball team called the Hoboken Zephyrs, who, during the last year of their existence, wound up in last place and shortly thererafter wound up in oblivion. There's a rumor, unsubstantiated, of course, that a manager named McGarry took them to the West Coast and wound up with several pennants and a couple of world championships. This team had a pitching staff that made history. Of course, none of them smiled very much, but it happens to be a fact that they pitched like nothing human. And if you're interested as to where these gentlemen came from, you might check under 'B' for Baseball - in the Twilight Zone.


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Tropes:

  • Artistic License – Biology: Possibly Artistic License - Robotics. But in any case, emotions apparently come from the heart, as Casey starts smiling and feeling compassion after he gets a robotic heart.
  • Artistic License – History: There has never been a major league team called the Hoboken Zephyrs, or any big-league team in Hoboken ever. This might be a subtle Historical In-Joke however, as the first well-documented game played under the "Knickerbocker Rules" of baseball (three strikes for an out, three outs for an inning, a differentiation between fair and foul ground, etc) took place in Hoboken in 1846.
  • Baseball Episode: A frustrated manager of a last-place baseball club gets a robot pitcher.
  • Crushing Handshake: Mouth's wince in pain when Casey gives him a bone-crushing handshake is the first indication that something is not natural about Casey.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: An instance where it's not fatal but still backfires big time for the creator: Dr. Stillman giving Casey a heart was just an attempt to keep him within the rules of who can play baseball so he could continue to make the team win. Instead he gets an extremely crippling case of empathy for the rival team's players and he can no longer play worth a damn.
  • Here We Go Again!: The end of the episode has Mouth, who has just gotten Casey's blueprints, chasing Dr. Stillman down and pleading with him. Serling's closing narration indicates that the team moved west and won the pennant with a rotation of robot pitchers.
  • Imagine Spot: Mouth briefly visualizes a championship pennant flying from the flagpole.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title refers to the 1888 poem "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Thayer.
  • Loophole Abuse: Once some umpires catch wise about the fact Casey is a robot, Mouth looks over the rules and tells Dr. Stillman to give Casey a heart so he will still be classified as a living being and can continue playing. It backfires when it gives Casey a crippling case of empathy.
  • Misspelling Out Loud: Mouth tells Dr. Stillman never to say the word "R-O-B-B-O-T-T."
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Mouth McGarry is based on Leo "The Lip" Durocher, and the Hoboken Zephyrs are based on the Brooklyn Dodgers. Note that Serling says the Zephyrs eventually moved out west. The Dodgers had moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles just five years before this episode aired.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Surely building an unbeatable robot pitcher is flagrant cheating, but Mouth comes off as sympathetic.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Casey, who looks just like a human being. The only tells are his oddly flat manner of speaking and his rigid gait.
  • Robot Athlete: The robot Casey becomes the pitcher for the Hoboken Zephyrs. After he has a heart installed and can't bring himself to strike out the members of the opposing team, Mouth has Stillman create a series of robot pitchers to help the Zephyrs win championships.
  • Spinning Paper: Used for exposition to recount Casey's winning streak.
  • Stock Footage: Footage of crowd scenes from the Polo Grounds and Fenway Park is shown during the montage of the Hoboken Zephyrs' winning streak.
  • Verbal Irony: "He pitches like nothing human," says the catcher after Casey's first tryout.
  • Win One for the Gipper: Mouth gives an emotional Rousing Speech after Casey is late for the game because he's getting a heart, saying "Go out there, Zephyrs, and win this one for the big guy." Subverted when Casey shows up in the locker room while Mouth is talking.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Dr. Stillman says quite casually that he previously built a gourmet cook robot but that he deactivated her after he started gaining too much weight.
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