Iowa Alumni Magazine | June 2008 | Reviews

The Greatest Hit

By IAM Staff
A historic and perennially popular song exemplifies America's love of baseball.

Baseball's Greatest Hit: The Story of Take Me Out to the Ball Game, by Andy Strasberg, Bob Thompson, and Tim Wiles, 87BA, 89MA, Hal Leonard Books

Nearly every American knows the words to the chorus of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," the 1908 hit touted as the third most popular song in the country (after "Happy Birthday" and "The Star-Spangled Banner") a full century after its debut.

Baseball's Greatest Hit celebrates the song and the game with countless surprising facts and hundreds of historic pictures and illustrations. A CD of rare and classic recordings is also included.

One of more than 1,000 songs written about baseball, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was first sung in movie theaters across the land, during that pause necessary for projectionists to switch movie reels, and it remained atop the charts for seven weeks—longer than any other song in 1908.

Since the 1970s and then-White Sox announcer Harry Caray, the song has become entrenched in the game itself as a ritual component of the seventh-inning stretch. It's become the anthem of baseball, a song of summer that's outgrown the season and become an icon of American culture as lasting as apple pie. Even the U.S. Postal Service agrees: it releases its first stamp ever to commemorate a song this month, June 2008.