Summer of 1908: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

The legend of the creation of "œTake Me Out to the Ball Game" begins in 1908. That summer, everyone was talking about baseball's hotly contested pennant race "” a three-way extravaganza between John McGraw's mighty New York Giants, the Pittsburgh Pirates with its star Honus Wagner, and the World Champion Chicago Cubs. All this excitement likely inspired performer/songwriter Jack Norworth (1879-1959) as he was riding a New York City elevated subway train when he spotted a sign that called out: "Baseball Today "” Polo Grounds." In any case, that is how Norworth told it years later. He admittedly had never been to a baseball game, but he needed a new song for his act at the Amphion Theater in Brooklyn and why not a baseball song? He immediately set to work on the lyrics, and before the subway ride was finished, Katie Casey had come to life. Norworth brought the lyrics to his friend Albert Von Tilzer (1878-1956), who set them to music. "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" had a modest reception, but other vaudeville performers began incorporating it into their acts and its popularity grew. Today it is sung in all Major League baseball parks during the "seventh inning stretch." Norworth would go on to co-write more than 2,000 songs, but none would prove as lasting as his biggest hit, "œTake Me Out to the Ball Game," the song about baseball's biggest fan in 1908 ...

Katie Casey was base ball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou 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 ...
"œTake Me Out to the Ball Game" was Katie Casey's answer "” a refrain that would be echoed by generations of baseball fans.

Albert Von Tilzer (music) and Jack Norworth (lyrics). "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." First edition. New York: The York Music Co., 1908.
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Music Division.

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