The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 35 – The Mighty Casey

This episode is a pure comedy.  The Hoboken Zephyrs are supposedly a very bad NL baseball team residing solidly in the standings cellar.  Their Manager, McGarry (played by Jack Warden) is informed by the General Manager, Beasley that he is going to be out of work if the team doesn’t improve ASAP.  Along comes a young left-handed pitcher named Casey and his “mentor” Dr. Stillman.  After displaying unhittable stuff McGarry wants to hire him on the spot.  When he asks Dr. Stillman for Casey’s age, Stillman tells him that he’s three weeks old.  He further explains that Casey is a robot that Stillman built.

But McGarry is completely unconcerned with the details of his star prospect’s ancestry and the team goes on an extended winning streak which brings them to the very brink of pennant contention.  But fate steps in.  Casey gets beaned and for the sake of safety he is brought to the hospital for a checkup.  The league doctor says that Casey seems fine but upon trying to take his pulse he discovers that Casey has no heart.  Dr. Stillman confirms this and elaborates that Casey is a robot.  The league doctor reports back to the National League that Casey isn’t human and the League official reads the pertinent baseball regulation.  “The game is to be played with nine men.”  It is reinforced that if Casey hasn’t got a heart then he can’t be on the team.  McGarry objects, but Beasley hasn’t got a heart and he owns forty percent of the team.”  But the official is adamant; no heart, no play.  Dr. Stillman intercedes and says that if Casey needs a heart in order to qualify then he’ll install one.   Everyone is satisfied and the modification is made.  At the next game, Casey shows up with his new heart.  He is smiling and happy as compared to his former robotic blank stare.  Dr. Stillman is pleased with the more human aspect of his creation and everyone is jubilant.

Casey is shelled inning after inning.  After the game McGarry questions him about why he was so awful.  His answer was that his new heart meant that he had empathy for the opposing hitters and didn’t want to be responsible for their lack of success.  So, he let them win.  Dr. Stillman comes over to McGarry and tells him he thinks Casey should change careers to social work and gives McGarry a copy of Casey’s blue print as a memento.  Looking at it McGarry has an idea and he goes running across the outfield to catch Stillman and suggest an idea for using his robots in baseball.  It ends with a voice over by Serling talking about a certain East Coast team that moved to California and suddenly had a pitching staff that was basically unbeatable (meaning the actual Dodgers who were the team the Zephyrs were a stand in for).

This is a hokey joke.  When Rod Serling made a later series called the Night Gallery he would have a couple of longer stories and then a short vignette, usually of a comic nature.  This story in a slightly more condensed form would have been perfect for that kind of treatment.

But as you know I prefer the more light-hearted approach to sf&f.  I especially liked the line about the GM not having a heart.  And the Dodgers were the team my family (well most of them) followed until they left New York the year I was born.  For sentimental and aesthetic reasons, I’ll give this a B but I can understand if the more serious readers disagree.  To each his own.