“Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” The Skeletons

This version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” has me feeling off-balance, even after a few listens, but it’s starting to grow on me.  Sometimes it’s fun to have a wrench thrown into your expectations.


“Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly

This appears to be a clip from a movie sharing the same name as the song, Take Me Out to the Ball Game.  I’ve never seen the movie, but after watching this rendition of the song (not to mention the tap dancing!), I may have to seek out a copy.


Origins of the seventh inning stretch

I occasionally go on binges of television shows that I never watched when they were actually airing on television (for one example, see my posts here about various episodes of the Simpsons).  My parents didn’t condone a lot of TV-watching as I grew up, and as an adult, I don’t bother with wasting money on cable or even Netflix.  However, I do have a library card, and many public libraries have vast collections of DVDs, including television series.  This has afforded me the opportunity to do a tiny bit of catching up on some shows.

My current TV show project, The West Wing, has thoroughly captured my interest and attention.  As of this writing, I am about halfway through the third season of the series, and in the first minutes of episode 15, “Hartsfield’s Landing,” C.J. Cregg makes mention during a press briefing of the origins of the seventh inning stretch.  Stretch time, she informs reporters, was founded by President William Howard Taft.  Naturally this caught my attention, so I had to do a little poking around to find out whether this was true.

The West Wing

It seems the actual origins of the seventh inning have faded with time, but the story of President Taft does circulate.  According to the story, during a game he attended on April 4, 1910, the obese Taft stood up during the seventh inning to stretch his legs and find some respite from sitting in the small, wooden chair.  When other fans at the ballgame saw Taft stand, they also stood in a gesture of respect for the commander-in-chief.

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Another possibility for the tradition’s origins dates back to 1869.  According to an article in the New York Herald, following a particularly long second inning of a game between the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Brooklyn Eagles, the entire crowd at the park simply stood up to stretch.  Actual stretch time, of course, then was moved to later in the game.

A third story, this one also dating back to 1869, comes from a letter written by Harry Wright of the Cincinnati Red Stockings.  According to Wright, “The spectators all arise between halves of the seventh inning, extend their legs and arms and sometimes walk about. In so doing they enjoy the relief afforded by relaxation from a long posture upon hard benches.”

Today, of course, stretch time comes with singing the chorus of Jack Norworth’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” as well as an end to alcohol sales for that game. Whatever the actual origins of the seventh inning stretch, there seems to be no doubt that it was borne out of a need for fans to take a break from the long period of sitting. 

 


“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (1927 version), by Jack Norworth

The original version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was released in 1908, written on a piece of scrap paper on a train ride into Manhattan.  Because one version of the song just wasn’t enough, in 1927 Jack Norworth changed some of the lyrics of this classic, set again to the music composed by Albert Von Tilzer.

Nelly Kelly love baseball games,
Knew the players, knew all their names,
You could see her there ev’ry day,
Shout “Hurray,” when they’d play.
Her boy friend by the name of Joe
Said, “To Coney Isle, dear, let’s go,”
Then Nelly started to fret and pout,
And to him I heard her shout.

“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.”

Nelly Kelly was sure some fan,
She would root just like any man,
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along, good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Nelly Kelly 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.”


1958 Yankees Stars Sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

This was a lucky gem of a find.  In 1958, Yankees players Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Bill Skowron appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show along with Jack Norworth, writer of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”  The group, along with the help of the crowd, sings the baseball anthem, followed up by a few questions from Mr. Sullivan.


Take Me Out to the Ballgame on the ukulele

Here’s a fun rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” played on the ukulele by John Curtis.  When I saw how long the video was, I honestly hoped this would include playing the verses, but that did not end up being the case.  All the same, I enjoyed listening to this fun and upbeat cover thoroughly.


Bill Murray sings “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as Daffy Duck

I certainly wouldn’t call this my favorite rendition of our pastime’s anthem, but it’s an entertaining one to watch all the same.  Bill Murray at Wrigley Field during Game 3 of the 2016 World Series, singing like Daffy Duck (or Sylvester Cat?).

 

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