May 4, 2008


A Song’s Forgotten History, Complete With Cracker Jack (SAM ROBERTS, 5/04/08, NY Times)

On May 2, 1908, the song was registered with the copyright office. On the same day, The New York Clipper, a sports and entertainment newspaper, printed an ad for the sheet music, which was published by the composer’s company on West 28th Street. It made its debut with a public performance at the Amphion, an opera house on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. It was recorded that September. Within a month, it catapulted onto the Top 10 charts.

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game” became, by one estimate, the third most popular song in America, after “Happy Birthday to You” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The biography of baseball’s anthem has been retold and elaborated on in a new book, “Baseball’s Greatest Hit.”

Thanks to the authors — Andy Strasberg, a sports marketer; Bob Thompson, a New York musician and professor; and Tim Wiles, the National Baseball Hall of Fame research director — a buried historical footnote has been dusted off just in time to celebrate its centennial.

The song is credited to two adopted New Yorkers. They each transplanted themselves here from Middle America to seek their fortunes. They each changed their surnames to sound more sophisticated. Neither, so the story goes, had ever been to a baseball game.

Budweiser ran a great series of ads (was it for Bud Lite?) about not getting things right the first time. I don't know if they broadcast it nationally but in Chicago they showed one where Harry Caray sang In a Gada Davita during the 7th inning stretch.

At any rate, The Hold Steady recorded a version of Take Me Out for the Twins that's available at the band's MySpace page

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 4, 2008 7:39 AM
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