For anyone who has ever sung “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch and wondered why we sing it when we are already at the ball game, this entertaining book supplies the answers. And why did this song become the sport’s anthem rather than one of hundreds of other baseball songs, such as George M. Cohan’s “Take Your Girl to the Ball Game,” written the same month? This story, told here in full for the first time, evokes the bright hope of turn-of-the-century America, the backstage drama of vaudeville, and the beguiling charm of baseball itself.
Amy Whorf McGuiggan supplies the fascinating details behind the song’s beginnings in 1908, when Jack Norworth, a vaudeville headliner and Tin Pan Alley songwriter who had never even been to a game, was inspired by a subway advertisement to create the song that, though a hit in its day, did not become a time-honored tradition until broadcaster Harry Caray and team owner and marketing genius Bill Veeck Jr. reintroduced it during the 1970s. Here is America’s game and the American century seen through the prism of one impossibly catchy tune and illustrated throughout with vintage photographs, advertising images, and sheet music culled from America’s premier collections.