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Interesting story behind iconic baseball song

'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' supports women's rights
MLB.com

Through the end of the season, the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum will feature a special "Women in Baseball" exhibit to highlight women who have made contributions to St. Louis baseball and the game at large. In conjunction with this exhibit, MLB.com will be telling the stories of some of those women over the course of the next few months. We continue this series by taking a look at one of the most well-known songs in the United States: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

In the middle of the seventh inning at every ballpark across the United States, the focus shifts away from the field and turns to the fans and a song appreciating the game experience. But the well-known melody is actually a segment of a longer song supporting women's rights.

Through the end of the season, the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum will feature a special "Women in Baseball" exhibit to highlight women who have made contributions to St. Louis baseball and the game at large. In conjunction with this exhibit, MLB.com will be telling the stories of some of those women over the course of the next few months. We continue this series by taking a look at one of the most well-known songs in the United States: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

In the middle of the seventh inning at every ballpark across the United States, the focus shifts away from the field and turns to the fans and a song appreciating the game experience. But the well-known melody is actually a segment of a longer song supporting women's rights.

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was written in 1908 with words by Jack Norworth and music from Albert Von Tilzer. Ironically, neither had attended a baseball game.

The full song tells the story of a fictional girl, Katie Casey, asking her "beau" to take her to a ball game instead of a show. Part of the first verse goes:

"Katie Casey was baseball mad, Had the fever and had it bad; Just to root for the home town crew … 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."

That leads into the iconic chorus that everyone sings throughout the summer. The song tells how Casey was extremely well-versed in baseball, spent all of her money to go to the games and knew all of the players' names.

At the time the song was written, women rarely attended baseball games, as the ballpark was not thought of as a place for women. However, the song gained such popularity that it helped make the practice more acceptable.

"Women are indeed entitled to know a great deal about the ball game. They will eventually lead the crowd in singing 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame,'" George Boziwick, chief of the music division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, said of the song's impact. "Then you have everybody buying into the idea of women going to a baseball game because of a song. One song."

It was the No. 1 song in the United States in 1908, selling 6 million copies of the sheet music. With the popularity of the song, Major League Baseball realized that Ladies Days, when women were admitted to the ballpark for free, were no longer necessary. In 1909, the National League banned the practice, assuming women would now attend on a regular basis.

As popular as the song was, it was not performed at a Major League ballpark until the 1934 World Series in St. Louis at Sportsman's Park. A group of Cardinals -- Pepper Martin and his Marvelous Musical Mississippi Mudcats Band -- performed the song before Game 4 against the Tigers.

It eventually grew to be a tradition, in the way it is known today, in the 1970s, when legendary announcer Harry Caray began singing the tune with White Sox fans during the middle of the seventh inning.

"It's the only moment in any sport that I know of where for three minutes the attention turned from the field and the players to the audience," said Robert Thompson, the co-author of "Baseball's Greatest Hit: The Story of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." "It's all about the fans in that moment. It's not celebrating who wins or who loses. It's not celebrating what's happening on the field. But it's celebrating this national pastime."

Alaina Getzenberg is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.

St. Louis Cardinals