Thursday, August 7, 2008

Something Else That's Old

In keeping with the Pagoda centennial celebration, part of which takes place at Friday’s baseball game, I’ll tell you about something else you might not know is 100 years old this year – the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”.In 1908, while riding a subway train, Jack Norworth, who had never attended a baseball game, saw a sign that said “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds” and was inspired to write the lyrics. It was set to music by Albert Von Tilzer, who had also never been to a game.

The song was first sung by Nora Bayes, Norworth’s wife and popularized by vaudeville acts. Norworth and Bayes wrote performed over 2500 other songs, including “Shine On, Harvest Moon” but “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was by far the most popular.

It is believed that this is the third most-often played song in the United States, following “The Start-Spangled Banner” and “Happy Birthday”. Originally, there were two verses to the song. Now you most commonly hear only the chorus.

Harry Caray, sportscaster for the Chicago White Sox is credited for the inception of its singing during the seventh inning stretch. It’s said that in 1976 White Sox owner Bill Veeck noticed Caray signing along while it was being played on the stadium organ so the next game he sneaked a microphone into the broadcast booth in order for the fans to be able to hear him and join in. The tradition soon spread to stadiums all over the country. The Chicago Cubs sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” a second time if a game goes into the fourteenth inning and once, during a game between the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres that went 22 innings it was heard a third time.

Over the years there have been many different versions of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” performed by an assortment of noteworthy artists, including a second revised by Norworth himself. The list includes Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in a 1949 musical of the same name, the Marx Brothers in the overture of their comedy, A Night at the Opera, André Previn, Mandy Patinkin, Japanese punk band Nicotine, indie rock group the Hold Steady, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Billy Joel. I think one of my favorites is in an episode of Due South but that could be just because I love to drool over Paul Gross.

Okay, everyone ready? Play ball!


Amarinda Jones said...

Well...there you go. I did not know that I wanted to know that. Hey research queen, I would love to know more on the Mounties

Sandra Cox said...

My husband and son are diehard Cub fans so I always associate that song with Harry.
Good blog:)

Regina Carlysle said...

My son sang this song over the intercom at his elementary school years ago (he was about 7). They were celebrating the beginning of baseball season.