Back in 1908, Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer wrote “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” one of the most iconic songs that rings out over baseball fields from Pee-Wee to the Major League to this day.
Crazily enough, neither Norworth nor Von Tilzer had attended a baseball game prior to penning the hallmark anthem. The first recorded version of the song was by Edward Meeker, and that ended up in not only the Library of Congress, but also the National Recording Registry.
Who would have thought the simple ditty would stand the test of time, generally marking the customary respite towards the end of a baseball game known as the seventh-inning stretch?
With the MLB season kicking off at the end of March, we collected some of the most memorable versions of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” from past years. So, grab your peanuts and Cracker Jack, because it’s time to play ball.
Edward Meeker, First-Ever Recording, 1908
First up, one must pay tribute to Meeker’s original recording. The lyrics tell the story of Katie, whose beau asks her to go see a show. Katie accepts the date, but only if he’ll take her to see a baseball game. That’s some fan!
Bill Murray, Chicago Cubs, 2012
Wrigley Field, the longtime home of the Chicago Cubs, has produced some of the most memorable performances of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The practice of having a celebrity sing the song started with late Cubs play-by-play man Harry Carey, who used to lead the crowd with the song’s refrain in the seventh. Since his passing, a who’s who of names have taken the microphone for the singalong, and Bill Murray was no exception on opening day in 2012.
Murray pumps everyone up by screaming, “We’re gonna win today, we’re gonna win every game!” before launching into the song. Then, as is tradition in Chicago, he yells, “Let’s get some runs!” Just seeing the Saturday Night Live alum do his thing is enough to make anyone laugh.
Eddie Vedder, Chicago Cubs, 2007
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder is a noted Cubbies fan. He’s thrown out the first pitch at Wrigley, he once gave his childhood mitt to Cubs legend Ernie Banks and he even wrote a song for the team called (seriously) “All the Way.” Well, the song hasn’t worked yet, considering the Cubs haven’t played in a World Series since 1945, but he sure rallied the troops with this appearance in the booth in 2007.
Mike Tompkins, World Series Ad, 2013
YouTube artist Mike Tompkins threw a curveball at this old standard for a Pepsi ad that ran during the 2013 World Series, which pitted the St. Louis Cardinals against the Boston Red Sox. Using sounds like a bat hitting home plate and the pop of bubblegum, Tompkins laid down a head-nodding bed.
Then, he enlisted additional voices from actual baseball fans to accomplish a modern-day take.
Harpo Marx, I Love Lucy, 1955
One of the most-beautiful versions of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” came in 1955, when Harpo Marx played his harp on an episode of I Love Lucy. With Lucille Ball sitting on the couch, Marx paints a beautiful picture with just his strings.
The likelihood that Marx’s harp will make it to modern baseball stadiums is slim, but consider this a refined take on the sport.
Jerry Stiller, New York Mets, 2011
The amazingly-talented Jerry Stiller got fans to stretch during the seventh inning of a New York Mets game, and turned in a showing that only the veteran actor could.
It probably wasn’t the best sonically, but Stiller did “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” just the way Frank Costanza, his immortal character on Seinfeld, would, punctuating it with an excited “I love ya, baby!” as his mic gets cut off. Just perfect.
Ozomatli, Baseball Tonight, 2008
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in 2008, ESPN’s Baseball Tonight had nine popular artists record different renditions of the song. A fan vote whittled that list down to a final three–Gretchen Wilson, the Punch Brothers and Ozomatli.
While Wilson ended up winning the competition, Ozomatli’s blend of saxophone and stand-up bass really make their entry stand out. Donning the jerseys of their hometown Los Angeles Dodgers, Ozomatli will have you feeling the rhythm in your seat.
Ozzy Osbourne, Chicago Cubs, 2003
As he gets up there in age, Ozzy Osbourne isn’t the easiest to understand, and his appearance at Wrigley in 2003 is a perfect example of that challenge. Flanked by his wife Sharon, Osbourne sang some parts, garbled others and made general improvisations throughout.
“Let’s go out to the ball game, let’s go out to the crowd” and “It’s three, two, three strikes you’re out” were certainly interesting choices, but then again, this was the Prince of Darkness. He can definitely get away with it.
The Hold Steady, Minnesota Twins, 2007
No fan of the Hold Steady needs to be told that frontman Craig Finn represents Minnesota hard, so when the Minnesota Twins approached him about doing a take on “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during opening day in 2007, it was a no-brainer.
What came out of the session is a slowed-down approach to the song with Minnesota name-checks, like, “Hey Minneapolis / Hey St. Paul / We don’t even care when we don’t get the call!” One listen, and there is no doubt that the Hold Steady is behind this one. Check it out here.
Chris Traeger, Parks and Recreation, 2011
For a true changeup, we included Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) from the hit NBC show Parks and Recreation. In the episode “Dave Returns,” the practically-perfect Traeger gets asked to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to disastrous results.
Not only does he wreck the lyrics, but let’s just say that Lowe does a great acting job of depicting Traeger to be completely tone-deaf.
But at the end of the day, our favorite comes from our in-house guitarist John Dreyer, who came up with his own rendition for the video launch of our new Fender MLB Strats.