Hugh Casey was on the mound in the ninth inning of Game Four of the 1941 Yankee-Dodger World Series. Brooklyn led, 4-3, with two out, nobody on, and Tommy Henrich at bat. Henrich swung and missed Casey’s 3-2 pitch, but the third strike eluded catcher Mickey Owen, and Henrich reached base, beginning a game-winning rally. Owen became a famous goat, and baseball historians since have differed as to whether the elusive pitch was a spitball.
Casey, who relieved in 287 of his 343 games, led the NL in saves twice and relief wins three times. A loner, a tough competitor, and a heavy drinker, Casey became friends with Ernest Hemingway. At Hemingway’s house during spring training in Cuba, the drunken pair once put on boxing gloves. Teammate Kirby Higbe later recalled, “Ernest would belt Case one, and down he would go. Case would belt old Ernest, and down he would go…The furniture [really took] a beating.” At age 37, allegedly despondent over the breakup of his marriage, Casey committed suicide.