Take me out to the ball game

The story is that Jack Norwith was riding the subway when he saw a sign: “Baseball Today - Polo Grounds.” Somehow that sign inspired him to write the lyrics on an envelope. The words were later set to music by Albert Von Tilzer. The song was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office on May 2, 1908. The ballad of Katie and her boyfriend was made popular at man vaudeville shows around the country. In the Song, Katie wanted only to go to a baseball game:

Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad.
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou1
Katie blew.
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:"

Most people don’t know the verses, but they do know the chorus that follows each of them:

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.

As far as we know, the song wasn’t played or sung at a ball park until 1934 when a recording of the song was played at a high-school game in Los Angeles. Its first appearance in a Major League Ball Park occurred the same year when it was played during the 1934 World Series. As for the songwriter, Jack Norwith, he didn’t attend a major league ball game until 1940.

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 1907 and in 1908, defeating the Detroit Tigers both times. When we lived in Chicago, from 1974 - 1978, the Cubs were not exactly on a winning streak. Their best season during our years was 1978 when they made it to 3rd place in the National League East with a record of 79 and 83. When your team loses more games than it wins in a “good” year, you start to look forward to the 7th Inning Stretch and Harry Caray leading the crowd in singing, “Take me out to the ball game.” It might be the highlight of the game. It certainly led to speculation about how big of an alcohol problem Carey had.

It took the Cubs until 2016 to win another World Series. Harry Caray died of a heart attack in February of 1998. He didn’t live to see the victory that he kept predicting.
In the strangeness of the year of the pandemic, The baseball season makes its official start today. July 23 isn’t what we would call an early start for the summer sport, a game that at one time was called “America’s Pastime.”

The New York Yankees take on the Washington Nationals tonight at 7 pm Eastern Time. Three hours later, on the West Coast, the Sand Francisco Giants face the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs home opener will be Friday as they play the first game of a three game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The season will last for 60 games so that it can be wrapped up in October. The big thing for baseball fans is that there will be no fans in the stadiums. The games will be played in empty ball parks for television audiences. if you want to watch major league baseball in 2020, you are going to have to watch television.

Baseball isn’t a game designed for television.

The unique thing about baseball, as opposed to football, basketball, hockey or soccer, is that it isn’t played against the clock. The length of a baseball game is determined by the play of the game itself. Although television producers can count on breaks for advertisements when the teams are retired each inning, they don’t know how to schedule the rest of their evening. If the teams are tied at the end of nine innings, then extra innings are added to the game until a team wins. The length of an inning can vary depending on how quickly three batters are ruled out. The longest game in terms of innings was in 1920 when the Brooklyn Robins and Boston Braves played 26 innings before the game was called due to darkness. It all took place in just under 4 hours.

In 1984, the Chicago White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers played 25 innings before the Sox finally won. the game took eight hours and six minutes and had to be played over two days. Play was suspended after the 17th inning at 1 am because of a rule that no new inning could begin after that time. Play resumed the next day and in the 21st inning the Brewers took the lead with a three-run homer. Somehow, Chicago managed to tie the game by the bottom half of the inning and the teams played on. The game finally ended with a home run that put Chicago in the lead.

People don’t watch television that way. In fact, not all of the 14,754 fans who started that historic game were in the ball park when the game finished.

But people are watching a lot of television these days. In the midst of the pandemic, more and more people are staying at home and they are watching more and more television. Even thought it isn’t much fun watching a home run bound around empty seats in a stadium, I suspect that the ratings for baseball will be pretty high this year. People need a distraction from the chaos of politics and the fears of a growing pandemic.

I read an article that predicted that the 2020 World Series will be the New York Yankees vs the Los Angeles Dodgers with LA being the winner. Those predictions are usually not right. If we would predict winners and losers there would be no point in watching the games.

I’m not much of a sports fan. I don’t plan on watching much baseball. But I will be paying attention - especially to the Cubs and dreaming of the day when once again you can

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.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks! For the record, the copyright has expired on the lyrics to the song, which is now in the public domain.