Friday, March 28, 2008
Take Me Out To The Ball Game: A 100 Year Old Tune About Katie Casey
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The original Baseball Annie was named Katie Casey. At least, that's how it looks. The two-verse traditional tune sung during the seventh inning stretch at ballparks across the USA is a century old this year. And it was written about Katie Casey, "a girl who was mad with baseball fever." So says the Library of Congress, which has dug up the original sheet music (pictured above) just in time for Opening Day.
The historians report that few fans know the history of the song, which is nearly as recognizable as "Happy Birthday" and the "Star Spangled Banner" (and seldom mangled like tonsil-twisting national anthem). There is no mention about any possibility Katie Casey might somehow be related to the Mighty Casey, who struck out for the Mudville 9 in the baseball famous poem. That angle isn't addressed. Instead, the heroine of the song seems to have a young beau, who goes unnamed and didn't play the game. She wanted to spend time at the ball yard with her squeeze watching the athletes. About baseball crazy Katie, the Library of Congress reports:
"This faint whiff of romance added to the song's success on vaudeville, where singers, actors, even acrobats incorporated the hit into their acts. Also adding to its immense popularity, the song was featured during intermissions at the early 20th Century nickelodeons where it was accompanied by 'lantern slides,' photos touched up with paint that provided the audience with a visual component to the song as the lyrics scrolled across the bottom of the screen. This way, when Katie Casey made the pitch to her date, everyone in the audience could respond in song: "Take me out to the ballgame . . ."