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Take Me Out To The Ballgame by Nora Bayes

Album: Take Me Out To The BallgameReleased: 1908
  • The lyrics to this song were written by a Tin Pan Alley composer named Jack Norworth with music by Albert Von Tilzer. At the time, composers like Norworth were trying to write popular songs that would sell a lot of sheet music. Norworth did not have an interest in baseball, but in this time before mass media, going to a game was a shared experience that made good subject matter for a song.

    There were many other baseball songs of the era, including one written 2 years earlier called "It's Great At A Baseball Game," but "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" is the one that caught on. Norworth was married to a famous vaudeville singer named Nora Bayes, which gave him a huge advantage in promoting his songs. Jerry Silverman, author of The Baseball Songbook, told us: "It's an easy song to sing, obviously. It's a nice, catchy melody, a nice bouncing three-quarter-time song. But there's no intrinsic value to the song. I mean, it's just another Pop song."
  • Although most people are familiar with just the chorus to this song, there are full lyrics, including an introduction where the fellow is singing to his girl, inviting her to go different places, but all she wants to do is go to the ball game.
  • This is played at most professional baseball games in America during the Seventh-Inning Stretch, where fans stand up and stretch out before the home team hits in the seventh inning. The Seventh-Inning Stretch started to catch on sometime in the 1920s, and this song soon became part of the tradition. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, "God Bless America" was played in place of, or in addition to "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" at many parks, and while The New York Yankees continue to play "God Bless America" at every game, most teams play it only on Sundays, and every stadium continues to play "Take Me Out To The Ball Game."
  • Cracker Jack is a snack brand made with peanuts and popcorn with a caramel coating. The mention in this song helped make Cracker Jack an iconic product that continues to be sold, including at many baseball stadiums. Since baseball games are at least 2 hours long, snacking is a big part of going to the park, and many baseball songs of this era included references to food.
  • As Jerry Silverman explains, there is nothing about this song that sets it apart from many others written around this time, but somehow it has endured. Says Silverman: "The one by George M. Cohan could have been the song, "Take Your Girl To The Ball Game." I mean, melodically it's just as interesting, it tells virtually the same story, and who knows why that didn't make it? It's just one of these intangibles of popular taste that you can't really put your finger on. It's very hard to make an objective statement as to why one song is better. For example, there's a song that was written in 1906 called, "It's Great At A Baseball Game," and it was also written by two great American songwriters. One was Fred Fisher, who wrote "Peg Of My Heart," for example. And Richard Whiting, who wrote "Sleepytime Gal," and "Beyond The Blue Horizon," that was Bing Crosby's theme song, and "On The Good Ship Lollipop," that was Shirley Temple's theme song. So they wrote a song called "It's Great At A Baseball Game." And guess what? It's also a waltz in three-quarter time. And halfway through the chorus, it says, "get your hot buttered popcorn and peanuts." So they're also plugging the menu that you can have at a baseball game. It's not Cracker Jack, it's buttered popcorn and peanuts. So, everybody had the same idea. And that's the one, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" was the one that everybody remembers, and "It's Great At A Baseball Game" no one remembers. Although it's just as good a song."
  • Since this song is more than 75 years old, it is in the public domain, meaning it can be performed without paying royalties. This makes it a very affordable song to play at stadiums - replacing it with a more recent song could be tough financially.
  • Courtesy of Jerry Silverman, here is a .pdf of the Take Me Out To The Ballgame sheet music.
  • In 1907, there was no way to hear or see a baseball game without going to the park. Says Silverman: "You couldn't listen to it on the radio, so either you went to a ball game, or you didn't go to a ball game. That was the end of it. There was no choice. Songwriters picked up on what was going on at the time. If it was kids playing hooky from school and rushing off to the ball game, there were songs about that. If there were songs about kill the umpire, they did that. There's all kinds of little references to the spirit of the times. The songs that came right after the Civil War in the 1860s have a very military martial air. They sound like Civil War marching songs, and they talk about, "It's a bloodless sport." In other words, with a reference back to the bloody sport of the Civil War, and how we're all brothers again. So each era had its own point of reference." (Learn much more about baseball songs in our interview with Jerry Silverman.)
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Comments: 2

Every time I hear this song, it takes me back to a Monday evening in early May a few years ago where I sat in the stands at Yankee Stadium singing this out like a good 'un. Large coke in one hand, foot long in the other, and my vintage Liverpool FC soccer shirt on.

Incidentally, they lost to the Minnesota Twins..... Typical!
Dave - Liverpool, United Kingdom
baseball has the only song that is played at every ballpark.Rick - Tuscola, United States