It's happened again: We're knee-deep in baseball season. The University of Nebraska Press is capitalizing with the release of Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The Story of the Sensational Baseball Song. Those of you who need all 123 pages of that story will no doubt find your way to it. For the rest of you, let me attempt to distill the story to two rather fantastic elements.
First, there is this, as told by author Amy Whorf McGuiggan:
Dashed off, with accompanying doodles, on a scrap of paper during a New York subway ride by Jack Norworth, a vaudeville song and dance headliner who, it was said, had never attended a professional baseball game, 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game,' with music by Tin Pan Alley composer Albert von Tilzer (who also had never attended a game), was debuted on a vaudeville stage in April 1908.
Second, there are the copycat songs that went nowhere and, even better, the sheet music art work that accompanied those songs. Here's a sampling: