The song from 1908 had a date with baseball history - Loveland Reporter -Herald

The song from 1908 had a date with baseball history – Loveland Reporter -Herald

“Katie Casey was baseball crazy, had a fever and was unwell …” Sing along if you choose.

What? You do not know the text? I bet you know the chorus: “Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd: Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I do not care if I never come back.”

Of course, if you have never been to a baseball game in person where they have a sound system, you have probably never heard this excerpt from a song from the early 1900s.

The words were written by Jack Norworth – who at the time had never seen a baseball game in person, and there were no TV games in 1908 – on a subway train in New York City.

Jack was inspired by a sign that he saw “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds.”

If you are not familiar with the history of baseball, you would not have known that the Giants started as a New York City team before rescuing San Francisco. And the stadium was named Polo Grounds, even though it was not home to a stable of polo ponies.

As it turns out, the stadium on the sign referred to Jack as actually being the fourth Polo Grounds.

The original Polo Grounds was built in 1876 and designed for the sport of Polo. Renovations and fires resulted in the latest edition – the name continued without a rider.

Where were we? Oh yes, Jack saw the sign on the subway. He decided to take a literary license and created Katie Casey.

Katie was apparently a bigger fan of baseball than Jack because she (in his lyrics) beats an invitation from her boyfriend to go to a show for tickets to a baseball game. Not only does she insist he buy her peanuts and Cracker Jack – we can assume she also wanted a beer to wash them down, but maybe ladies (maybe Katie was a woman and not a lady) drank beer at baseball games in 1908

Anyway, Jack found a collaborator in Albert Von Tilzer who put words to music.

They registered their product with the US Copyright Office on May 2, 1908.

On one hand, Norworth and Von Tilzer finally saw their first Major League Baseball matches 32 and 20 years later, respectively.

The song was first sung by Norworth’s then-wife Nora Bayes when it became popular in many other vaudeville acts.

The new recording industry got hold of the song, and Billy Murray and the Haydn Quartet took it to the top spot on the existing recording charts. Harvey Hindermyer and Edward Meeker also released records that hit the top 10. I have none of these recordings or a gramophone.

The first time it was actually played at a ballpark was at a high school game in Los Angeles in 1934.

World Series that year saw the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Detroit Tigers four games to three, and the song was played during the fourth game of the series.

The song’s popularity due to the records, notes and piano rolls made it one of the most popular songs of 1908.

The National Endowment for the Arts and Recording Industry Association of America named it one of the 365 best “Songs of the Century.”

Norworth continued in the second verse by saying “Katie knew the players by first name”, so it may not have been her first rodeo or ball game (we never know, it was after all 1908).

His original lyrics, written on an envelope, are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

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