Take Me Out to the Ball Game

In 1908, a vaudeville star from Philadelphia called Handsome Jack Norworth was riding a New York City subway train when a placard at a station stop caught his eye. On the placard was printed this: "BASE BALL TODAY — POLO GROUNDS."

The advertisement prompted an inspiration. On a scrap of paper (which now is on display in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.), Handsome Jack began scribbling lyrics. He was pleased with the words he had created and he brought them to Tin Pan Alley composer Albert Von Tilzer, who went to the piano and created a tune that blended with the words. Both men were seasoned pros with popular songs: Norworth had done "Shine On Harvest Moon, and Von Tilzer’s credits include "Wait Til the Sun Shines Nellie" and "I Want a Girl, Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad". The strange part is that neither man had ever been to a baseball game!
 

The song was introduced at the Ziegfeld Follies by Norworth’s wife, the soprano Nora Bayes, and it became the hit of the Follies. When the 1910 season opened, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was being sung in all the big-league ballparks. Only "The Star Spangled Banner" and "Happy Birthday" have been sung more frequently in the United States. Or so it is claimed. It is the chorus that is best known, but in vaudeville every song had a verse — an introductory section with a different tune which would set the stage for the catchy chorus that was to come. Few modern fans are aware of this song’s verse, which tells us about Katie Casey, who was "baseball mad."

When asked about his lack of baseball experience Norworth once said, "So what? Harry Williams wrote In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree and I am sure he never saw a blade of grass. If he ever got three blocks off 26th Street in Manhattan, it was a great occasion." Jack Norworth finally did get to out to the ballgame, watching the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn in 1942.

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.”

“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don’t care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.”

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names;
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don’t care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.”