Take Me Out to the Ball Game
This, the original version of the song, was sung by Edward Meeker in 1908, and is one of the first ever recordings of the song.
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Typical modern ball park instrumental version performed by Kaila Rochelle on a Roland GR-09 organ with a Roland RD-700 keyboard midi controller. The performance is on the 'Chorus.'
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"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is a 1908 Tin Pan Alley song by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer which has become the unofficial anthem of North American baseball, although neither of its authors had attended a game prior to writing the song. The song (chorus only) is traditionally sung during the middle of seventh inning of a baseball game. Fans are generally encouraged to sing along, and at some ballparks, the words "home team" are replaced with the team name, as is the case with the Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers and several other Major League Baseball teams.
History of the song
Jack Norworth, while riding a subway train, was inspired by a sign that said "Baseball Today – Polo Grounds". In the song, Katie's (and later Nelly's) beau calls to ask her out to see a show. She accepts the date, but only if her date will take her out to the baseball game. The words were set to music by Albert Von Tilzer. (Norworth and Von Tilzer finally saw their first Major League Baseball games 32 and 20 years later, respectively.) The song was first sung by Norworth's then-wife Nora Bayes and popularized by many other vaudeville acts. It was played at a ballpark for the first known time in 1934, at a high-school game in Los Angeles, and researchers think it made its debut at a major-league park later that year.
Norworth wrote an alternative version of the song in 1927. (Norworth and Bayes were famous for writing and performing such smash hits as "Shine On, Harvest Moon".) With the sale of so many records, sheet music, and piano rolls, the song became one of the most popular hits of 1908. The Haydn Quartet singing group, led by popular tenor Harry MacDonough, recorded a successful version on Victor Records.
The most famous recording of the song was credited to "Billy Murray and the Haydn Quartet", even though Murray did not sing on it. The confusion, nonetheless, is so pervasive that, when "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America as one of the 365 top "Songs of the Century", the song was credited to Billy Murray, implying his recording of it as having received the most votes among songs from the first decade. The first recorded version was by Edward Meeker. Meeker's recording was selected by the Library of Congress as a 2010 addition to the National Recording Registry, which selects recordings annually that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Below are the two versions side by side for comparison:
Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Nelly Kelly loved baseball games,
Katie Casey saw all the games,
Nelly Kelly was sure some fan,
- Original lyric, sung by Edward Meeker, recorded in 1908 on a phonograph cylinder
- Lyrics to 1927 version
Another version of the lyrics appeared years ago: Take me out to the night game.
Take me out where the lights
brighten the infield, if not the fan,
doing his thing on the overtime plan.
Let me root, root, root for the home team.
If they don't win it's a shame,
for it's one, two, three 'til you're home
from the old night game.
1 The term "sou", now used in Quebec in lieu of the word cent for the English language word penny (because cent means one hundred in French), was at the time common slang for a low-denomination coin. In French the expression 'sans le sou' means penniless. Carly Simon's version, produced for Ken Burns' 1994 documentary Baseball, reads "Ev'ry cent/Katie spent".
Recordings of the song
The song (or at least its chorus) has been recorded or cited countless times in the 100 years since it was written. The original music and 1908 lyrics of the song are now in the public domain in the United States (worldwide copyright remains until 70 years after the composers' deaths), but the copyright to the revised 1927 lyrics remains in effect.[dead link] It has been used as an instrumental underscore or introduction to many films or skits having to do with baseball.
The first verse of the 1927 version is sung by Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra at the start of the MGM musical film, Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), a movie that also features a song about the famous and fictitious double play combination, O'Brien to Ryan to Goldberg.
In the mid-1990s, a Major League Baseball ad campaign featured versions of the song performed by musicians of several different genres. An alternative rock version by the Goo Goo Dolls was also recorded.
In 2001, Nike aired a commercial featuring a diverse group of Major League Baseball players singing lines of the song in their native languages. The players and languages featured were Ken Griffey, Jr. (American English), Alex Rodriguez (Caribbean Spanish), Chan Ho Park (Korean), Kazuhiro Sasaki (Japanese), Graeme Lloyd (Australian English), Éric Gagné (Québécois French), Andruw Jones (Dutch), John Franco (Italian), Iván Rodríguez (Caribbean Spanish), and Mark McGwire (American English).
Stories about the song
In the 1935 Marx Brothers' film "A Night at the Opera", in one of the more unusual uses of the song, composer Herbert Stothart arranged for a full pit orchestra to segue seamlessly from the overture of Il trovatore into the chorus of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".
In 1988, for the 80th anniversary of the song and the 100th anniversary of the poem Casey at the Bat, Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford constructed a fanciful story (later expanded to book form as Casey on the Loose) which posited Katie Casey as being the daughter of the famous slugger from the poem.
In 2006, Jim Burke authored and illustrated a children's book version of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame".
In 2008, Andy Strasberg, Bob Thompson and Tim Wiles (from the Baseball Hall of Fame) wrote a comprehensive book on the history of the song, Baseball's Greatest Hit: The Story of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'. The book, published by Hal Leonard Books, included a CD with 16 different recordings of the song from various points in time, ranging from a 1908 recording by Fred Lambert, to a seventh-inning-stretch recording by Harry Caray.
- "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". Performing Arts Encyclopedia. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- "Jack Norworth & Take Me Out to the Ball Game". Laguna Beach Historical Society. Archived from the original on February 4, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- "Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth: Together and Alone". Archeophone Records. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- Newman, Mark. "Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Song History". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- Druckenbrod, Andrew (23 June 2008). "Name this tune: You sing 'Take Me Out,' it's 100 years old". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- Big Bands Database Plus (row for 1908).
- "The National Recording Registry 2010". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
- Thomas, David (July 4, 2008). "Happy 100th Anniversary, 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved 2008-09-05.
- "Diamond Ditty turns 100". The Oregonian. 2008-06-20.
- Nike, Inc. (2001). Take Me Out to the Ballgame (Bee-yooo-tiful).
Instrumental parts of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" can be heard in the background music for Joe E. Brown's 1932 movie "Fireman, Save My Child".
In 1985, it was featured in Kidsongs A Day at Old MacDonald's Farm, which shows the kids playing baseball. Also, Don Mattingly, one of the New York Yankees baseball players is seen hitting a home run.
Though not so indicated in the lyrics, the chorus is usually sung with a pause in the middle of the word "Cracker", giving 'Cracker Jack' a pronunciation "Cra---cker Jack". Also, there is a noticeable pause between the first and second words "root".
An episode of Sam & Cat featured the chorus, but with modified and nonsensical lyrics that start with "Take me down to the basement, fill my bucket with cheese."
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- Baseball Hall of Fame: "'Take Me Out' Celebrates 100th Birthday"[dead link]
- Take Me Out to the Ball Game: A Centennial Tribute