Take Me Out to the Ball Game

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"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is an early-20th century Tin Pan Alley song which became the unofficial anthem of baseball, although neither of its authors had attended a game prior to writing the song.[1] The song is traditionally sung during the seventh-inning stretch of a baseball game. Fans are encouraged to sing along.


History of the song

The words were written in 1908 by vaudeville star Jack Norworth, who 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 ballgame. 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".)[2][3] 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.[4]

Contrary to some sources,[citation needed] Billy Murray, although a fan of baseball in general and the New York Giants in particular, never recorded a version of the song. One of the well-known quartets, whose sessions frequently included Murray, did record the song, but without Murray, leading to some confusion in some of the record catalogues.[5] 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.[6]

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