On Monday evening, September 22, 1947, the “sizzling steaks [were] on the house … [and] free gravy down the shirt front” was de rigueur at 600 Flatbush Avenue.1 Pitcher Hugh Casey, proprietor of Hugh Casey’s Steak and Chop House, was optimistically throwing a victory dinner party for his Dodgers teammates. Brooklyn’s beloved “Bums” stood poised to clinch their second National League pennant of the decade, and the right-handed relief ace, “a genial, happy host,” was delighted to treat.2
Some apprehension remained. Brooklyn had lost three consecutive games, allowing three chances to nail down the National League championship slip through their fingers. The Dodgers were idle this Monday. The St. Louis Cardinals, their closest competitors, were playing a doubleheader at home against the Chicago Cubs. At Casey’s joint, a group of Dodgers players and their wives huddled in a booth and anxiously awaited results of the nightcap from St. Louis.
Finally, close to midnight, the tavern’s manager happily announced the final score from St. Louis: Cubs 6, Cardinals 3. All hell broke loose, not only at Casey’s but on the streets of Flatbush as well. An impromptu party broke out on Flatbush Avenue. Led by an unnamed accordion player, Dodgers players and their wives formed a conga line that joyously marched down Brooklyn’s major thoroughfare. The inn’s proprietor, Hugh Casey, quietly beamed and joined in the merriment.
Hugh Casey was 10–4 in 1947, his last big season.
Hugh Thomas Casey was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 14, 1913. He was the youngest of seven children (five boys, two girls) born to James Oliver Casey, a Fulton County police captain, and Elizabeth Casey. Young Hugh had already gained some notoriety as a hard-throwing teenage pitcher when he first encountered Wilbert Robinson, the legendary former Brooklyn manager. The two met in the early 1930s at Dover Hall, a former plantation just outside Brunswick, Georgia, that served as a hunting and drinking retreat for vacationing northerners like Robinson. Robby immediately took a liking to the big Georgian—more at first for his hunting prowess than his ability