I’ve played and watched sports my entire life. Joanna played some softball and basketball as a kid — and we played together on an intramural co-ed softball team that won back-to-back summer championships — but she has always opposed most kinds of competition and has never been much of a fan of any sports team. That is, until I ruined her life several years ago by helping turn her into a Seattle Mariners fan.
We watch a lot of M’s games on television, and occasionally we make it over to the wet side of the state for a game at Safeco Field. Most of the time we’re disappointed by the outcome (which perhaps calls into question why we keep watching), and all too often the game has been decided before the crowd stands to sing this song during the seventh-inning stretch. (Late Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Carey is credited with starting the tradition of singing the song at ball games.)
In fact, Joanna had heard me sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” many times before we ever went to a major league game. The song was my go-to lullaby for each of our grandchildren. They seemed to like it, and some of my favorite memories involve late-night rocking of Brooke or Joe while softly singing about baseball. Besides, it was no more inappropriate than the Kitty Wells tune my father says he sung to me, and I turned out mostly OK.
Most fans probably don’t know that we’re singing just the chorus (or that the proper term is “cracker jack,” not “Cracker Jacks”). You can see the complete lyrics and some history for both the 1908 version and the 1927 version of the Jack Norworth song here. Hear what may be the earliest recording of the song (with complete 1908 lyrics about a lass named Katie Casey who naturally “told the umpire he was wrong”), sung by Harvey Hindermyer (often misspelled “Hindermeyer”), below: