“Take Me Out to the Ballgame”
There are three songs that put a smile on my face. They are “Happy Birthday,” “It’s a Small World” and “Take me out to the Ballgame.” When you sing or hear “Happy Birthday”, the smile is expected. After all it is all about you. When I hear “It’s a Small World,” it’s normally when traveling on a mechanical boat while at the ‘happiest place on earth.’ So while it is spontaneous, the smile can easily predicted. But when I hear “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” it reverberates from the soul. As you know, I love the game of baseball, and it feels like my birthday whenever at a ballpark, to me it is the happiest place on earth! If I could create heaven, there would be the aroma of freshly cut grass and grilled hotdogs, or the sound of a ball after being cracked by a bat, or the smacking sound of rawhide against leather, and there would always be a ‘seventh inning stretch’ which means that everyone rises to their feet and the to sing the familiar stanzas of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” This is a song where nobody cares about your singing ability. In fact, it is impossible to sing it badly. It causes you sway without being choreographed and the louder you belt out the words, the better it sounds.
One of my proudest and most cherished moments is singing this song along with Harry Carey at Wrigley Field. Next is anytime I sing it at a ballpark while rooting for my favorite team!
“Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks, I don’t care if I ever get back..”
In 1908 a man by the name of Jack Norworth was inspired to write the above words when he was riding the New York City subway. He saw a sign that announced “ballgame today at the Polo Grounds.” Mr. Norworth wrote the lyrics in fifteen minutes. He took his lyrics to Albert Von Telzer and the York Music Company published it. In 1908, it was a number One hit for Bill Murray and the Haydn Quartet. Ironically another Bill Murray, a devout Cubs fan sang the song at Wrigley Field, a Chicago tradition. Norworth’s words became known as the ‘baseball’ song and were forever embedded into the fabric of our National Past time. Interestingly, ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ was not the first baseball song every written. That honor belongs to ‘The Base Ball Polka,’ written in 1858. In 1927 he changed some of the lyrics and second version appeared.
‘Take Me Out To the Ballgame’ is the second most widely sung song to our country’s National Anthem at baseball games.
Jack was born in Philadelphia. Before becoming known as a songwriter he was a successful vaudeville performer. His stage credits included ‘The Great White Way,’ and the ‘Ziegfeld Follies’ among several others He wrote over 2.500 songs, including a time honored classic, “Shine on Harvest Moon.” Mr. Norwoth is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He died on September 1, 1959 in Laguna Beach, California, not far from where the major league Angels currently play.
Ironically, Mr. Norworth did not go to that game nor attend one until 1940. The first time he heard his song performed at a game was in 1958 when the Dodgers moved out to California. On the fiftieth anniversary of the song, Cracker Jacks presented him with a trophy.
The sounds popularity got a great boost after Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster Harry Carey began singing at ballgames in 1971. “I would always sing it, because I think it’s the only song I knew the words to.”
During opening day in 1976, Bell Veeck, owner of the Chicago White Sox noticed that the fans sang along with Harry. So he placed a secret microphone in the press box to allow ALL the fans to hear him.
Veeck told Harry, “Harry, anybody in the ballpark hearing your sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ knows that they can sing as well as you can.”
He went on to say, “Heck, if you had a good singing voice, you’d intimidate them, and nobody would join in.”
It became a Chicago tradition for the seventh inning stretch. In fact after Harry Carey died, the tradition lived on with guest singers, such as Mr. T, Jimmy Buffet, Jeff Gordon, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Murray to name a few.
It is amazing that a non-baseball fan could write the favorite baseball song of all-time!