In 1908, composer Albert von Tilzer and lyricist Jack Norworth submitted two copies of their song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to the United States Copyright Office. The rest, as they say, is history.
In 100 years, the simple song has become a true cultural phenomenon. It is played or sung daily in nearly every baseball stadium around the country, large and small. It is one of the most recognizable songs in America. Some people call it the “other” national anthem. Remarkably, very few know much about the origins and history of the song. That it was penned in a New York subway car and that neither of the two authors had ever seen a professional ball game. That there are actually two verses and they tell the story of a girl who asks to be taken to a baseball game instead of a show. That Cracker Jacks experienced a huge surge in popularity and are now synonymous with the baseball experience as a result of the song.
In this centennial year, the song is getting even more attention. An online contest sponsored by Major League Baseball and the Baby Ruth candy bar invited fans to submit videos of them singing the song, with the prize of singing the song at the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in New York. The United States Postal Service will issue a commemorative stamp this summer. One of the most interesting tributes is in the Library of Congress’ online Historic Baseball Collection, which features historical information on a variety of baseball topics as well as the opportunity to view the original sheet music.
If it’s been awhile since you attended a ball game and you’re feeling nostalgic, below is a recording this librarian made of the song during the seventh-inning stretch at a recent game between the New York Yankees and Oakland A’s. Enjoy.