take me out to the ballgame

Take Me Out to the Ballgame is the third most frequently heard tune in the U.S. behind Happy Birthday and the Star Spangled Banner.  It evokes instant images of green grass, sunshine, the crack of a bat, and as Warner Fusselle is quoted as saying “it’s the happiest minute in sports”.  Our guest on this episode of Cover the Bases is Tim Wiles, the author of Baseball’s Greatest Hit: The Story of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.  We are fortunate to have such a renowned expert on the subject of baseball and popular culture join us on the program.  Tim is the Director of Research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown.

Baseballs Greatest Hit | Tim Wiles | Baseballisms.comAlthough he was hesitant at first to take on the project of writing this book, we are glad that he was persuaded by one of his co-authors, Bob Thompson, to pursue this historical song.  As Tim tells in the podcast, his one condition for getting involved with the book was to include his friend and collector of all things related to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Andy Strasberg.

The trio did what all good baseball fans would do and ventured to a ballpark,  Citizen’s Bank Park in this case, to discuss the project and set off on a course to present the song in a beautiful literary package.

They also had the good fortune of working with a talented graphics designer named Damien Castaneda. He was able to take the comprehensive elements of the research that the authors conducted, and put them in a visually appealing format that will speak to any baseball fan.

We get some great insight from Tim about the co-authors of the song Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer.  These two very different personalities crossed paths on Tin Pan Alley back in the early 1900’s, partnered on a few hits prior to 1908 but then hit a homerun on this collaboration.  Interestingly it is the last song that they did together.  Tim has since discovered after publishing the book that this had much to do with Jack Norworth’s equally famous wife, Nora Bayes.

A challenge for any researcher is to determine what information is fact and what information is embellished (this will continue to get more difficult as everyone can now easily publish content, it is no longer required to have printing presses or broadcast facilities).  After Von Tilzer’s death, the great marketer Jack Norworth went on to use various anecdotes to help promote the song’s popularity.  Tim and his co-authors examine many of the claims to get to the true story of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

The book contains a prologue about the death of Albert Von Tilzer as written by Nancy Kriplen.  It represents some of the magical qualities surrounding the game of baseball, and just reinforces our belief that everyone is touched by the game, and has their own unique story to tell about baseball in their lives.

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