Wanted by the FBI: Mighty Casey on the Ten Most Wanted List

Wanted: "The Mighty Casey" -- Height 7 feet; weight 600 pounds; bronze complexion, appears about 30 years old, but is considered "immortal." Once believed to be in hiding since an inglorious strikeout in 1888, "The Mighty Casey," as he has become known, has since become rehabilitated as an American Folk Hero. He has been missing since 1989, where he was last seen posing outside a Scottsdale, Arizona art gallery. An unconfirmed sighting of the former Mudville slugger in Las Vegas is the last known clue before his disappearance into the mysterious underworld of art thefts, forgeries, and off-the-books transactions.
"The Mighty Casey," bronze, by American sculptor Mark Lundeen


Caseyatthe.blog believes it's time to focus the formidable resources of #SABR, the Society of American Baseball Researchers, historians, amateur sleuths, and of baseball fans everywhere--particularly those fond of the early glories of the game in the 1870's and 1880's--to find The Mighty Casey and to restore him to a place of honor and esteem. 

Let's credit Anne Ryman and the crack team of investigators at ABC15 Arizona for tracking down the FBI's list of art objects stolen from Arizona (see her report here) 

Ryman and her team, as well as the FBI, are on the track of a Marc Chagall painting, now valued at $$ millions, stolen in a 1985 smash-and-grab heist from a gallery window in Scottsdale. In 2003, a landscape by local Western artist Jack Van Ryder went missing from the Tucson Museum of Art. And a 24-inch-high sculpture by Cowboy Artist Gordon Snidow was stolen from another Scottsdale gallery, which has since closed. 

But the biggest mystery, both in terms of scale and audacity, is that of The Mighty Casey. Here's Anne Ryman's account, dated May 19-20, 2023: 

7-foot sculpture swiped from gallery 
The giant bronze sculpture vanished from O’Brien’s Art Emporium in downtown Scottsdale in 1989.
Mark Lundeen, a sculptor from Loveland, Colorado, was inspired to make the statue after reading the famous poem, “Casey at the Bat,” by Ernest Thayer. He eventually made more than a dozen statues of various heights, showing a baseball player standing and waiting for the next pitch.
He called the statues “Mighty Casey.” Statue No. 10 was for sale outside a gallery in Scottsdale.
One day, Lundeen got a call that the seven-foot statue was gone.“I was young and just getting started,” Lundeen told ABC15. “Money was hard to come by in those days. And they are quite expensive to make.”
Lundeen believes the theft may have been the work of four or five people because the statue weighed about 600 pounds. It’s possible they loaded the Mighty Casey into the back of a truck.
This was before video cameras were widely used in galleries. There’s no video of the theft. Lundeen heard the statue was spotted in Las Vegas, but witnesses refused to talk to law enforcement.
The statue was valued at about $18,000 when stolen, he said. The last one he sold in 2002 went for six figures.His other Casey statues are on display across the country, including at the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He said the Florida Marlins pro baseball team bought two statues. Another Mighty Casey was installed at a park in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Lundeen received an insurance settlement after his Mighty Casey went missing. "That’d be cool if it did turn up,” he said. “I’m not counting on it. But it would be cool.” 
Wittman, the founder of the FBI Art Crime Team, believes the sculpture is still out there and hasn’t been chopped up or melted down.The stolen statue has Lundeen’s signature on the base along with the edition number of the sculpture: No. 10.
Will Hearst's San Francisco Daily Examiner published "Casey at the Bat" over the byline "Phin," a shortened version of Ernest Lawrence Thayer's boyhood nickname "Phinney" (occasioned by Thayer's admiration for the 19th century's greatest self-promoter, Phineas T. Barnum). That happened 135 years ago, on June 3. And it's been 34 years since Mark Lundeen's "Mighty Casey" bronze has gone missing.
Let's review the clues and derive some hypotheses: (1) The bronze is 7 feet tall, and weighs over 600 lbs. This means that if it was placed in storage, it would likely have been on a concrete floor, in a building with a truck dock. (2) But this is a work of art, meant to be displayed and appreciated. As such, it was likely valued by some collector with an affinity for classic baseball memorabilia. (3) Therefore, it is not a stretch to assume that whoever acquired it, has displayed it selectively to friends, baseball history enthusiasts, or other specialized collectors in a prominent, even if secluded space -- say on a large gated estate. (4) And since the last reported location of "The Mighty Casey" was in Las Vegas, it is also possible that the bronze may have been offered for sale at a prominent pawnbroker's establishment, say, one that is able to determine its value and connect it with a wealthy buyer.
Can we not make it our mission to find "The Mighty Casey" and restore him to his creator? In her article for ABC15, Anne Ryman has provided an email: anne.ryman@abc15.com ; and her phone number, 602-685-6345. Or, let us know here at info@caseyatthe.blog and we'll be in touch with Anne -- who is certainly hoping to crack this cold case! 
See also this link to the FBI Art Theft Program. And happy sleuthing: "The game's afoot!"

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