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Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Fenway Park Diaries Photo

“Of the several hundred songs written for or about the National Game, ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ looms above them all — like a Stan Musial coming to bat in the ninth inning…It was so good that the song is probably familiar to 999 out of every 1,000 persons in the United States.” —Harold Rosenthal, March 16, 1958, The Sporting News

Aside  from “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Happy Birthday,” there is perhaps no more familiar or frequently heard song in America than “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

The unofficial theme song to the “Great American Pastime,” “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was written in 1908 by two Tin Pan Alley composers, neither of whom had ever been to a baseball game!

The words were written by Jack Norworth, who reportedly was inspired by a sign that said “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds ” that he saw while riding the subway in New York. The words were then set to music by Albert Von Tilzer.

Both men were prolific turn-of-the-century Vaudeville composers. Notably, Norworth co-wrote the standard, “Shine On, Harvest Moon” with his wife Nora Bayes, a popular singer of the era.

While “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” actually has four verses centered around the baseball-loving Katie Casey, generally only the chorus is sung. (Norworth wrote alternate verses in 1927 replacing “Katie Casey” with “Nelly Kelly.”)

Take Me Out to the Ball Game Lyrics

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.

The song has been recorded many times and used in many films, skits, and TV shows.

Perhaps no one person did more for the “institutionalizing” of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” than the late, great baseball announcer Harry Caray who for decades led fans in singing it during the “seventh inning stretch” of the Chicago White Sox and, later, Chicago Cubs games.

The Late-Great Harry Caray Singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”…

 

(It is ironic that the song was written in 1908, the last time the Cubs won the World Series!) [As of 2016]

In 1957, pianists / baseball fans André Previn and Russ Freeman recorded an album of jazz songs with titles invoking baseball imagery such as “Called on Account of Rain.” The title of the album, Double Play!, likewise utilized the baseball motif (although the cover depicts a girl in a baseball cap covering up her naked breasts! Hmmm…those jazzmen!). The first track on the album is a very interesting jazz version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

In the 1990s, a Major League Baseball ad campaign featured an alternative rock version of the song by the Goo Goo Dolls.

Carly Simon recorded “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” for the Ken Burns Baseball documentary.

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