TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME
With the 2018 Major League Baseball season almost half way over and the team statistics piling up day by day, there is one statistic I think everyone has missed. The song sung during the 7th inning stretch at ballgames all over the United States, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, is celebrating its 110th birthday.
As some of you know, I work for the San Francisco Giants in Guest Services. This is my seventh season and I am usually found in the Garden on the other side of the center field wall. Although I thoroughly enjoy the athleticism and drama of a baseball game, I get a warm and fuzzy feeling each time I hear this baseball classic written in 1908. The crowd is on its feet, swaying to the music, and ‘root, root, rooting for the home team. I feel part of something that is happening at ballparks across the country. It connects me to baseball from Babe Ruth to Buster Posey.
The song has an interesting history. The writer, Jack Norwood, wasn’t a baseball fan. In fact, he’d never been to a game. Norwood was a Tin Pan Alley songwriter. (FYI: Tin Pan Alley was the name given to the popular music writers and song publishers in New York during the late 19th/early 20th century. That’s when single records of a tune and sheet music were sold.)
So legend has it that Norwood was on a subway trying to come up with some catchy lyrics for a song—any song—but the creative juices weren’t flowing. He glanced out the subway window and saw a billboard saying “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds.” That was the inspiration he needed. He imagined taking the train to the ballgame and came up with the song that has been ranked as the third most popular song ever…right up there with ‘Happy Birthday To You’ and 'The Star Spangled Banner.'
Norwalk worked with Albert Von Tilzer who created the easy-to-sing melody. The song went to the top of the charts in 1908. It was a vaudeville favorite and made its MLB debut in the 1934 World Series.
Did you know that what we sing at the ballpark is the chorus of the song? There are two verses. Here are the lyrics for the 1908 version.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Katie Casey was baseball mad, Had the fever and had it bad. Just to root for the home town crew, Ev'ry sou1 Katie blew. On a Saturday her young beau Called to see if she'd like to go To see a show, but Miss Kate said "No, I'll tell you what you can do:" Chorus 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. Katie Casey saw all the games, Knew the players by their first names. Told the umpire he was wrong, All along, Good and strong. When the score was just two to two, Katie Casey knew what to do, Just to cheer up the boys she knew, She made the gang sing this song:
BTW – Guess who was playing at the Polo Grounds that day Norwood saw the billboard? The New York Giants!
My son, Rick, and me.