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January 9, 2014

Wiles leaving Hall but not 'Casey' role

(Continued)

Wiles said that his most memorable performance was when he performed after a talk given by Lennie Merullo, a baseball player who is currently the last living player to play in a World Series for the Chicago Cubs. 

Merullo’s talk was about how he came to own a bat of Babe Ruth’s, a bat of Ty Cobb’s and a bat of Ted Williams’ and Merullo insisted that Wiles perform “Casey at the Bat” with Merullo’s 1927 Babe Ruth bat.

Early on in his time performing the poem, Wiles said that he was approached by Claude File, then a drama professor at the State University College at Oneonta. File asked Wiles if he would like pointers on improving his performance and, over the course of a winter, they worked together.

“It was extremely helpful to have him work with me,” he said.

While for some years Wiles would dress up as Casey and perform the poem multiple times a week, Wiles now only does so 10 to 12 times a year. One of the reasons for this is that, six years ago, Wiles and his wife Marie had a son, and he now has less time to travel around the country for appearances.

Wiles said his son has not yet seen him perform the iconic role, but he plans on changing this in the future.

Wiles time at the Hall is notable for far more than his performances as Casey. A co-author of “Baseball’s Greatest Hit: The Story of Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and a co-editor of “Line Drives: 120 Contemporary Baseball Poems,” he has also contributed to the Hall of Fame’s yearbook, written for its magazine Memories and Dreams and served on Memories and Dreams’ editorial board. He has also worked on a number of books released by the Hall.

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