CJ Baker is a published writer who recently started the podcast Ongoing History of Protest Music.
Wrigley Field: Home of the Chicago Cubs
Baseball: America's National Pastime
Baseball has long been referred to as America's national pastime. The appeal of baseball to Americans is well emphasized in the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".
Played in just about every Major League Baseball (MLB) Stadium, this iconic song was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer. Even though there are other lyrics, the chorus of the song is well known by baseball fans of all ages.
Since the song was composed it has been performed a number of times. Right now we focus on 15 of the more memorable versions of the song. These versions are all memorable for different reasons. Some of the versions are celebrities butchering the song during the 7th inning stretch of a MLB game. Other versions are memorable for the right reasons; the singer makes the right connection with the spirit of the song. Then there are those versions that standout for their uniqueness.
Just as a note I am limiting this list to those versions that I was able to find on YouTube. For your enjoyment (or in some cases torture) here are the top 15 most memorable renditions of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".
15. Mr. T
There was no way that I couldn't have included Mr. T's rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". As a child I was a huge fan of the A-Team and Mr. T in particular. I even wanted to get a Mohawk like Mr. T but my mom wouldn't let me. Years later, I am now thankful to my mom.
After Harry Caray's death on February 18, 1998, The Chicago Cubs started the tradition of bringing in celebrities to sing the chorus of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch. Mr. T a Chicago native did the honors during a May 25th, 2009 Major League Baseball game.
In Mr. T's versions it was like he was commanding you to take him to the ball game, and if you didn't you would risk bodily harm. I pity the fool who doesn't take Mr. T to the ball game.
Mr. T Sings Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
14. Mike Tompkins
This rendition is for a 2013 Pepsi ad that aired during the World Series. Mike Tompkins is a popular a cappella YouTube artist.
There was no use of musical instruments; all of the musical sounds were created courteously of Tompkins' voice. The additional vocals were from MLB fans. The song is a really cool modern day update of the traditional baseball tune.
Mike Tompkins -- Take Me Out to the Ballgame Pepsi Ad (Video)
13. Goo Goo Dolls
This 1996 alternative rock version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" by the Goo Goo Dolls was recorded for the MLB series of "What a Game" commercials that aired during that time period.
During that time there were a number of different versions recorded by musical artists of a variety of different genres. Other artists who performed renditions included Aretha Franklin and LL Cool J.
Goo Goo Dolls Performing Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
12. Bruce Springstone (Bruce Springsteen Impersonator)
Bruce Springstone was the name of a Bruce Springsteen impersonator named Tom Chalkley. Back in 1982, he released an EP entitled Live at Bedrock. The A-side featured Springsteen singing "Bedrock Rap/Meet The Flintstones". The B-side was "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". This quirky little novelty tune might be campy but it is also kind of amusing as well. While many versions include just the famous chorus, this version includes all of the lyrics. The lyrics are the 1927 version which was rewritten by the original lyricist Jack Norworth.
Also as a note, the real Bruce Springsteen has been known to occasionally cover "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during his live performances.
Bruce Springstone Singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
11. Harpo Marx (I Love Lucy)
Harpo Marx played his instrumental Harp version on a classic May 9th, 1955 episode of I Love Lucy. This may be one of the more unique and more beautiful renditions of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".
The Marx Brothers are also associated with another unique version of the song. In their 1935 film A Night at the Opera the orchestra segue from Il trovatore into "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". A game of catch also ended up breaking out in the orchestra pit.
Harpo Marx Plays Take Me Out to the Ball Game on the I Love Lucy Show (Video)
10. Bernie Williams
It is fitting that at least one version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is done by a Major League Baseball Player. Bernie Williams played his entire 16 year MLB career with the New York Yankees (1991-2006). Williams also happens to be a classically trained guitarist and has released a couple of jazz albums.
Williams' version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" appeared on his 2009 album Moving Forward. That album also was nominated at the 2009 Latin Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Album. His instrumental version is one of the more beautiful renditions of the song.
Bernie Williams' Instrumental Version of Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
9. Peter Frampton
Peter Frampton's 2010 version is one of the more unique versions of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". Frampton's talk box rendition is weird and spacey, but kind of cool all at the same time.
Frampton first performed the song live at a Cincinnati Reds game. There doesn't appear to be any video footage of that, but he did rerecord his version for MLB.com.
Peter Frampton's Talk Box Version of Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
8. Frank Caliendo
Caliendo version was aired as a teaser for the former MAD TV comic then upcoming show Frank TV. The teaser first aired during the 2007 MLB postseason. Caliendo's humorous take on the ball park classic features celebrity impersonations of Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, George Bush, Dr. Phil and John Madden.
Frank TV aired on TBS for 15 episodes during 2007-2008.
Frank TV Commercial -- Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
7. Eddie Vedder
Pearl Jam's lead singer is a Chicago native and diehard Cubs fans. With that in mind it should come as no surprise that Vedder has sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch on multiple occasions since 1998.
His most memorable rendition took place on July 4, 1998. A visibly drunk Vedder took some liberties with the lyrics. Around the 28 second mark you will notice that when singing "buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks" he clearly sings "crack" and I am pretty sure that he substitutes another word for peanuts. Despite this, Vedder was still asked to return multiple times to sing the song again. At the very least it is somewhat comical and amusing in a juvenile sort of way.
A Drunk Eddie Vedder Singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
6. Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra
Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra performed their version for the 1949 musical film Take Me Out to the Ball Game. The song features the first verse of the 1927 alternative version of the song.
The movie took place in 1908 (the same year the song was originally penned) and the story revolves around a fictitious American League baseball team the Wolves. Sinatra and Kelly portray two of the teams' players who also moonlight as vaudeville performers. The video also features some entertaining and fancy footwork.
Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra Performing Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
5. New York Yankee Greats with Jack Norworth (Ed Sullivan Show)
This version took place on the April 13th, 1958 episode of the Ed Sullivan Show. The song featured four New York Yankees players Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle & Bill Skowron singing along with Sullivan, the crowd, and the song's lyricist Jack Norworth.
The performance of the song coincides with what was then the 50th anniversary of the song. So it was appropriate to have the song sung by famous ballplayers on a popular TV show.
New York Yankees Stars Sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game on the Ed Sullivan Show (Video)
4. William Hung
William Hung gain notoriety after his hilariously off-key rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" during the Season 3 auditions of American Idol. Despite not making it through, Hung signed a record contract and was asked to perform on a number of TV shows.
On May 30, 2004, the Toronto Blue Jays had William Hung perform "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch. It was awful in a so bad it is good kind of way. Hung's pronunciation issues (such as with his pronunciation of peanuts) provided unintentional comedic value.
William Hung Singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
3. Ozzy Osbourne
If you thought it couldn't get much worse than William Hung then you will have to listen to Ozzy's mumbling and incoherent rendition. Ozzy and his wife Sharon performed during the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field on August 17th, 2003.
I feel guilty for enjoying this, but I just can't help it. Ozzy stumbling over the lyrics of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is some of the best unintentional comedy of all time.
This video also serves as an effective public service announcement: just say no to drugs.
Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne Sings Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
Ozzy Vs. Hung
2. Edward Meeker
Recorded in 1908, Meeker's version is considered the first recorded version. Due to its cultural significance, Meeker's rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was selected by the Library of Congress as a 2010 addition to their National Recording Registry.
Meeker's version also contains all of Jack Norworth's original lyrics. Norworth's lyrics tell of a baseball-mad female who wants her boyfriend to take her out to the ball game.
Edward Meeker Sings Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
Harry Caray and Ronald Regan
1. Harry Caray
Harry Caray may arguably be the person most widely associated with the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". While announcing for the Chicago White Sox he adopted the practice of leading the fans in a sing-along of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch. He famously continued that tradition when he took over the announcing role with the Cubs in 1981. It became his most well-known trademark of his distinguish broadcast career.
After Caray's death on February 18th, 1998 the Chicago Cubs invited celebrities to lead the attendees of Wrigley Field in a sing along Caray-style. Of course, no one did it better than Caray.
Harry Caray Leads Sing Along to Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Video)
© 2014 CJ Baker
Do you have a favorite version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"? Feel free to leave any other comments.
CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on April 03, 2014:
Thanks for the read and the comment, tirelesstraveler! I did enjoy listening and researching the different versions of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". It helped get in the mood for the upcoming MLB season.
Judy Specht from California on April 02, 2014:
Congratulations. This is one of the fascinating hubs to catch my eye in a long time. My husband and I were captivated from start to finish.
CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on April 02, 2014:
Thanks parrster for the read and the comment! The Hubpot was a nice surprise!
Richard Parr from Australia on April 02, 2014:
Well done on attaining a Hubpot Challenge award. Your hub definitely deserved it. Keep up the great work. Voted up.