Jack Norworth came up with the idea for the song while riding the subway. On that subway ride he saw a sign advertising "Baseball Today - Polo Grounds" and the rest is history. The lyrics were put to music by Albert Von Tizler and first sung by Jack's wife Nora Bayes.
What many people don't know about the lyrics to "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" is that the part we sing during the 7th inning stretch today is only the chorus. Here are the actual lyrics to the song written by Norworth in 1908.
Since 1908 Norworth's unofficial anthem for baseball has gotten many modern renditions. Artists like jazz legend Dr. John, alt rockers the Goo Goo Dolls, and even the great Frank Sinatra all gave the classic song a new twist. My personal favorite is the Dr. John rendition.
Of course, the man who made it famous to sing at ballgames, also happened to be the same person who didn't want to sing it at all. That's right, Chicago's legendary baseball broadcaster Harry Caray first scoffed at the idea of singing it. Former Chicago White Sox Bill Veeck was not deterred and eventually got Caray to sing it. Since Caray's death guest conductors have been brought in to sing the song during the 7th inning stretch.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" Major League Baseball are going to hold various promotional activities. I'm not holding my breath that they will be either funny nor entertaining, but we'll see. What I'm excited about is that the United State Postal Service will be issuing first-class rate postage stamps this summer to coincide with the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
In addition, everyone who considers them self a baseball fan should pick up Baseball's Greatest Hit: The Story of Take Me Out to the Ball Game. The authors Andy Strasberg, Bob Thompson and Tim Wiles all work in Cooperstown, New York at the Baseball Hall of Fame. It even comes with a CD with 16 different artists doing their rendition of the song.
I wrote all this and I've failed to mention the lyrics once. But have no fear Harry Caray is here!