Friday, February 26, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The Story of the Sensational Baseball Song by Amy Whorf McGuiggan

While I have never considered the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" sensational, it has always elicited pleasant daydreams of just spending an afternoon watching baseball games on green fields. The image is always of day games, as daytime is when baseball should be played, and the fields are always open to the sky. If Amy Whorf McGuiggan is right, a lot of people like this daydream, and sheet music sales and performance of the song have always been big. She tells the story in her new history Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Imagine three intersecting circles. One is the history of baseball, a second is the history of Vaudeville, and the third is the history of popular song. The intersection of these three circle is where you find this book. McGuiggan gives each of these three subjects a quick review, focusing on how the song impacted each. It is also the story of several people, most especially the lyricist Jack Norworth (also known for "Shine On, Harvest Moon') and composer and publisher Albert Von Tilzer. At the end of the book, readers also learn about baseball team owner Bill Veeck and broadcaster Harry Carey, who started the singing of the chorus of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" a seventh inning stretch tradition.

Mystery is also an appeal element in Take Me Out to the Ball Game, as the early records of both baseball and Vaudeville are incomplete. McGuiggan attempt to pin down the first performance of the song lets readers know about a forgotten world of cheap theaters and the entertainers who traveled the Vaudeville circuit. Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a good book for readers who like light history.

McGuiggan, Amy Whorf. Take Me Out to the Ball Game. University of Nebraska Press, 2009. ISBN 9780803218918.

No comments: