So, we'll celebrate with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." It's a song that's ubiquitous in baseball, of course. Every major league team, and even minor league team -- and probably most if not all college teams -- pause their games in the middle of the seventh inning to sing it. But the Cubs have ratcheted things up with the song and for years have made it a special tradition -- beginning with announcer Harry Caray leading the crowd with the song and then, after he passed away, starting in 1999 bringing in celebrity "guest conductors" to lead the crowd for the past 17 years.
Okay, pretty much everyone knows the song, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," though they don't know the full song, with its two verses that surround its famous chorus. Or know much about its history. That's where we come in...
The song was written 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, who did the music. An oddity of the song is that when they wrote it, neither had seen a professional baseball game. (And wouldn't for another 20 years -- or 32 years in Von Tilzer's case.) This wasn't their only hit song though -- among other things, they also wrote the classic "Shine On, Harvest Moon."
The first recording was sung by Edward Meeker, which the Library of Congress added to the National Recording Registry in 2010, something they do annually for recordings that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." (Why it took 102 years, I have no idea. Though given that the song was written the same year that the Chicago Cubs won a World Series, having a long wait is not surprising. At least it got its honor before the Cubs have...)
Here's Meeker's recording, along with the words displayed along the bottom of the screen -- and with wonderful photos of old, classic ballparks.
By the way, this recording should resolve on long-standing issue -- what the words actually are. As you'll hear, it is not, "take me out to the crowd", but "with the crowd." And also, it's not, "I don't care if I ever get back", rather it's "never get back."
So, now you know.