Springtime is upon us once again, and another baseball season is underway. But this year is noteworthy: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”—the third most frequently sung tune in America, bested only by “Happy Birthday” and “The Star-Spangled Banner”—is turning 100.
Ever since composer J.R. Blodgett penned “The Baseball Polka” in 1858, there’s been a special relationship between America’s music and its pastime. Maybe it’s the game’s tradition of scrappy eccentrics and underdog heroes, or the rhythmic crack of white-ash wood as it kisses that stitched sphere of cork and twine and leather. Wherever this semi-sacred relationship flows from, it’s as real and heartfelt as a Woody Guthrie ballad—the fruit it bears, sonic apple pie cooling on the window sills of rock, blues, jazz and soul.
In commemoration of this historic event (and because it's baseball season, people!), we've rounded up some of our favorite songs, fun facts and more concerning America's Favorite Pastime. Enjoy:
Rounding the Bases (Lovin' & Baseball)
Did You Know? (Baseball Trivia)
Charley Pride Was a Negro Leagues Pitcher (*and other fun facts from black baseball & music history)
Widespread Panic's John Bell: My first major-league game
Rickey Henderson Haikus (by Centro-matic's Will Johnson)
10 Best Baseball Songs (that aren't John Fogerty's "Center Field")
The Least Intimidating Walk-up Songs Ever
(Thanks to our references: The Baseball Music Project; Tim Wiles, Director of Research, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.)