History of Baseball and Music

Baseball, MLB article at Knup Sports

Baseball and Music History Down through time there is a strong bond between baseball and music. Musicians have been writing about the game since the beginning of the game of base ball. Let’s take a look at several pieces of music from history that relates to the game in no particular order. This is not all encompassing of all baseball music.

  (originally posted in March 2021, this was brought back by demand)

History of Baseball and Music 

1902 Three Strikes Two Step

This was written by John Philip Sousa, yes, the same one that wrote military marches and patriotic hymns. Sousa loved baseball. In 1900, he sponsored his own team of baseball players called “Sousa”. John Sousa played third base on the Princeton Nine back in his day.The band played teams all over the county including military teams, Semi Pro teams and gentlemen’s clubs with success. When he was in his fifties John Philip Sousa would put down his conductor’s baton and pitch the opening inning of his team games. In the 1920’s he had so many baseball playing musicians to have two teams that would play each other. Like the brass vs the woodwinds. Sousa was the ultimate blend of baseball and music. 

Sousa also wrote The National Game” in 1925 for the fiftieth anniversary of baseball’s National League and dedicated it to the first Major League Baseball Commissioner,Judge Kenesaw Mountain Kenesaw Mountain. 

Listen here. 

1908 Baseball on the Brain

This song is dedicated to people that can only think about baseball all the time and is written and composed by Nealon and Hummer.The gist of this song is a bit creepy as a local coroner,a former umpire and a jury of baseball fans certify that an unclaimed corpse died of baseball on the brain. The ghost of the corpse proceeds to haunt the ballpark at night. But not during the offseason, when the ghost spends its winter in Florida.

1909 Base Ball Game of Love

Baseball and romance have gone steady for a long time. In this musical piece written by Arthur Longbrake, we find several metaphors that come back to baseball.Phrases from the song go like this, I thought I was just a base hit you made/And you’d be caught in stealing second base/but you went the whole way ‘round and very soon I found/there was going to be a real live pennant race/ and as we reached third base together/Cupid gave us such a shove/that we both slid for the home plate/in our baseball game of love. 

1908- Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Likely the most famous song dealing with music and baseball. In fact, it is sung as the 7th inning stretch in every major league park. The writers of this song had never attended a baseball game in their life. The story goes that writer, Jack Norworth, while riding a subway train, was inspired by a sign that said “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds”. In the song, Katie’s boyfriend calls to ask her out to see a show. She accepts the date, but only if her date will take her out to the baseball game. The words were set to music by Albert Von Tilzer and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office on May 2, 1908, The first recorded version was by Edward Meeker. Meeker’s recording was selected by the Library of Congress as a 2010 addition to the National Recording Registry, which selects recordings annually that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Edward Meeker singing

The original words sung by Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly

1908 The Glory of the Cubs

The 1907 World Series featured the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers, with the Cubs winning the Series four games to none for their first championship. Games 1, 2, 3 were played in Chicago; games 4 and 5 were played in Detroit. This song was written by F.R. Sweirngen in 1908 and composed by Arthur Marshall. Listen here. 

In 1909, Anna Varennes wrote a rag time song about the Detroit Tigers called, Oh You Tigers– Rag Two Step. Listen here.

Written  and produced in 1913 by William Murphy was a song about the legendary Ty Cobb. The title was “They All Know Cobb”

In 1912, “The Red Sox Speed Boys” was written by Henry E Casey.  Listen Here.

In 1918, with World War I in full swing and once again baseball and music came together. The Americans rallied to support the troops and the war effort. At the ballpark, military displays were common. Harry Von Tilzer composed“Batter Up—Uncle Sam is at the Plate” for these patriotic shows. Harry is the brother of Albert Von Tilzer who composed Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

The Batter Up son was written by Harry Tighe and published  in 1918 by Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Co. New York. The patriotic title page illustrates Uncle Sam at the plate in a batting stance with the Doughboys in the stands watching.

An audio version doesn’t seem to exist so here are the lyrics for the song:

You Better grab your hat it’s time to grab your bat
You know the score is getting awful close
The Allies and the huns have made a lot of runs
But up to now it’s just and even dose
But it’s getting mighty dark and we want to leave the park
or there won’t be any super left at all
Put Sammy to hit and let him do his bit
and watch him hit the cover off the ball

Batter up batter up, Uncle Sam is at the plate
Batter up batter up now you won’t have long to wait
Old Kaiser Bill is pitching boys and anything he throws
Your Uncle Sam is itching just to crach right on the nose
Batter up batter up Sammy is on to every curve
Just wait and watch him get that pitchers nerve
When your Uncle Sam hits that pill old Kaiser Bill will get the gate
Batter up batter up, Uncle Sam is at the plate. Batter plate.

That German team is rough They never get enough
They’ll hit you with a bomb or submarine
And we don’t care for that we’ll stick to the glove and bat
We’ll win the game and still we’ll play it clean
There is one thing we can swear that the Umpire’s on the square
and from up above He’s watching every play
And when the game is done then he will be the one
to tell the loser what he has to pay.

Batter up batter up, Uncle Sam is at the plate
Batter up batter up now you won’t have long to wait
Old Kaiser Bill is pitching and there isn’t any doubt
In just about a minute they’ll be yelling “take him out”
Batter up batter up so get ready for the fun
Just hold your breath and watch for that home run
There is not a chance to loose this game We’ll win as sure as fate
Batter up batter up, Uncle Sam is at the plate. Batter plate.

In 1934, the Cardinals Gas House Gang had a band. Although they didn’t record any of their songs, they loved to perform to whomever would listen.Outfielder.Third baseman Pepper Martin got some of his teammates together and started a band called the Marvelous Musical Mississippi Mudcats. It included pitcher Bill McGee, Frenchy Bordagaray, Ripper Collins and Bob Weiland,

Baseball and music loves heroes. Joe DiMaggio became the rage in baseball with his good looks, friendly demeanor and skill in baseball . It didn’t hurt he had a long hitting streak and his team won. In 1941, Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was written and recorded. The Les Brown Orchestra put their music style to this song written by Alex Courtney and Ben Homer which paid tribute to Joe.
Hello Joe, whatta you know?
We need a hit so here I go.
Ball one (Yea!)
Ball two (Yea!)
Strike one (Booo!)
Strike two (Kill that umpire!)
A case of Wheaties

He started baseball’s famous streak
That’s got us all aglow
He’s just a man and not a freak,
Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio.

Joe, Joe DiMaggio
We want you on our side

He tied the mark at forty-four
July the 1st you know
Since then he’s hit a good twelve more
Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio

Joe, Joe DiMaggio
We want you on our side

From coast to coast that’s all you’ll hear
Of Joe the one man show
He’s glorified the horsehide sphere
Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio

Joe, Joe DiMaggio
We want you on our side

He’ll live in baseball’s Hall of Fame
He got there blow by blow
Our kids will tell their kids his name
Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio

We dream of Joey with the light brown plaque
Joe, Joe DiMaggio
We want you on our side

And now they speak in whispers low
Of how they stopped our Joe
One night in Cleveland Oh Oh Oh
Goodbye streak DiMaggio


Baseball and Music 1960-present

In 1960, It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ball Game ” burst on the scene.The recording is by the Harry Simeone Songsters. It used to  to kick off the Chicago Cubs  radio broadcasts in the ’60’s. Listen here.

“Meet the Mets” is the fight song of the New York Mets of Major League Baseball and appeared in 1962 when National League baseball returned to New York City. The song was written by Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz.  Listen here. 

The California Angels song appeared as a historically look at the players.  Listen Here.

A tribute song in 1989 by The Treiners was called “Say Hey” was about the centerfielder Willie Mays. Listen

In 1985,  John Fogerty recorded a song that seems to be played at every minor league park in the country  and called it “Centerfield”. You know the song …”put me in coach, I am ready to play today”  Listen to it HERE.

One of the best and  best song was done in 1984 by the great Bruce Springsteen in his recording called “Glory Days” Watch the video HERE.

The country group Alabama recorded a song in 1993 about their favorite minor league baseball team and called it “Cheap Seats”

Listen to it HERE. 

In 1999, Hall of Fame singer Kenny Rogers sings a great song called “Baseball Song” about a little boy trying to his a ball and brings the viewers to a  different perspective watching the ball going up and swinging and missing it. HERE.

In 2006, another country superstar came up with a fantastic song about baseball. Trace Adkins did a great video of the song called “Swing”. Let me present two version for you . LIVE in concert version and the official video version. 

                                                   BASEBALL and WALK UP MUSIC

Young baseball may not understand that there has not always been walk up music for batter in the major league baseball. This is about 50 years old since the inception. Let’s take a look.

Since organists were added to baseball, their primary job was to play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and add some between innings music. that when on for about 30 years until  White Sox organists Nancy Faust came along. In 1970, things changed in her second year.

Faust was not a baseball fan but got the job. To help her understand the game. she brought a  transistor radio to the game to listen to White Sox announcer Harry Caray and learn the phrases and language of baseball. Her organ was housed in center field away from the batters box.

Caray would marvel at her between innings work on the air and that pumped her up, one time when he praise her, she began playing a song called “I’m Wild About Harry”. In her third year they moved the organ to behind home plate and things were more intimate.

With her new location, she interacted with owner Bill Veeck and he loved her work and a flood of requests came pouring in.  She soon realized she could play specific songs for each batter based many times on the phrases of Harry Caray. When he referred to big Frank Howard as“Too big to be a man, not big enough to be a horse,” she played “I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet”. Once he played “Jesus Christ Superstar” when Dick Allen came to bat and he hit a home run. Things progressed from there. It wasn’t long before other stadium organists were doing the same idea of walk up music.

Nancy Faust video history

Nancy Faust at work.

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