“Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

Towering Song

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was submitted to the Office of Copyright one hundred years ago by composer Albert von Tilzer and lyricist Jack Norworth. This musical work, affectionately referred to over the past century as the “other” national anthem, has become the grand slam of all baseball songs. It has been ranked in survey polls as one of the top ten songs of the Twentieth Century and is second only to “Happy Birthday” and “The Star Spangled Banner” as the one of the most easily recognized songs in America. Legend has it that Jack Norworth was inspired to write the lyrics to the song by a sign he saw while riding a subway train that said “Baseball Today –Polo Grounds,” and his words were set to music by Albert Von Tilzer.

Interestingly, neither Norworth nor Von Tilzer had ever attended a baseball game before writing the song. “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” was first sung by Norworth’s wife, singer Nora Bayes, and popularized by various vaudeville acts. The simplicity and straightforwardness of the words, shrewdly crafted so as not to name or favor any one team, coupled with Von Tilzer’s waltz-like rhythms and unforgettable melody have ensured the success of this classic song. With the sale of so many records, music sheets and piano rolls, it became one of the most popular hits of 1908. The Haydn Quartet singing group, led by tenor Harry Macdonough, recorded the definitive popular hit rendition for Victor Records. This year, the Songwriters Hall of Fame will recognize the centennial anniversary and the significance of one of the most beloved songs of our time, with an assist from The Baseball Hall of Fame.  This summer, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” will be further honored with its own first-class U.S. postage stamp.

The Towering Song Award is presented each year to the creators of an individual song that has influenced our culture in a unique way over many years. Previous Towering Songs have included “Unchained Melody,” “When The Saints Go Marching In,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “Fly Me to the Moon.”