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The Story Behind the Song "Take Me Out To The Ball Game"

"Take Me Out To The Ball Game": The Perfect Musical Compliment to a Wonderful Game

Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth were two men who had never seen a baseball game before and probably couldn’t care less about it when they wrote Take Me To The Ball Game in 1908.  An everlasting song associated with a sport, its authors were from the famous Tin Pan Alley (a group of music publishers in New York City) of the early 20th century. The song was composed in an effort to sell a lot of sheet music, but this went on to make history and is still very popular at baseball games in America. 

Ball, bat, & base for baseball

Take Me Out To The Ball Game was not the only baseball song written during that time but was definitely the only one that held on to its legacy over the years. Mr. Norworth married Nora Bayes, who was a popular singer in the Vaudeville genre, and this immensely helped him in promoting his creation. However, by the year 1930, this genre vanished from concerts and performances. Despite this, the song itself persisted and in the year 1934, debuted in its first baseball game at the World Series in St. Louis.

Even in recent memory, the song was heard at the 5th game of the 2016 World Series, between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs. This was held at the Chicago’s Wrigley Field and when it came to the seventh inning stretch, Cubs fans started singing Take Me Out To The Ballgame, a tradition which was initiated by the famous sports broadcaster, Harry Caray and has continued till today. 

The Cubs are without a doubt the most well-known team to be associated with Take Me Out To The Ballgame, and the song itself has generated a tradition that has become the game’s integral part over the decades. The song has attained such an iconic status that it has now become embedded in American pop culture among fans everywhere. 

It was a legendary story that Jack Norworth was traveling via a New York subway in 1908, looking for some sort of inspiration to write a new piece. He saw a billboard which said that there was a baseball game at the famous Polo Grounds. This resulted in him developing an idea for a song and he wrote it down on an envelope quickly. He then met his friend, Albert von Tilzer, who was also a composer, and this went on to be a collaboration between two artists that produced the song we are so fond of. 

This is an extremely recognizable song today both in music and sports. In fact, it has become an unofficial anthem for the game today. This is not to say that it is any kind of a masterpiece, with most musical experts considering it to be mundane and ordinary. The song is a depiction of Katie Casey, a young woman, who is extremely fond of baseball. There is a man trying to woo her by asking her out to a show but she asked him instead to take her to a baseball game. The lady rejects the offer and instead asks him to take her to a baseball game. 

The Seventh Inning Stretch has become strongly connected to the song over the many years of its existence, where fans of the game stand and sing in unison before the home team gets out on the field. This tradition began in 1920s and has survived for almost a century. It is also said that during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Take Me Out To The Ball Game was being performed at many parks throughout America.

Another important story about this song is the snack brand, Cracker Jack. Take Me Out To The Ball Game popularized Cracker Jack until today, with huge sales every year, particularly at baseball stadiums in America. Having snacks is a significant part of American culture, especially at the stadium. Many baseball songs of the time have food references that are considered to be all-time favorites among the players.

The song went on to be referred to or played as a score in many movies. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (1949), which had Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in its lead roles, is of particular importance. It also appeared in Tom Hanks movie “A League of Their Own” (1992) and “Frequency”, a 2000 thriller. Adding to these, Harpo Marx of The Marx Brothers, created a harp version of the song for one of the episodes on the show “I Love Lucy.” 

All in all, Take Me Out To The Ball Game was a sublime projection of American sensibilities in the early 20th century which went on to gain a cult status in games, movies, tv shows, and musical circles. It might be incomparable to the melodic or lyrical masterpieces of the musical masters but has become popular nationwide.




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