"Take Me Out to the Ball Game": The story behind the seventh-inning stretch song

Last Updated Oct 26, 2017 7:44 PM EDT

ST. LOUIS -- If all goes as expected at the World Series on Friday, the crowd will stand for the anthem -- the baseball anthem. 

Everyone knows the seventh-inning stretch song, but there is a love story behind it. It's a tune that goes hand-in-mitt with baseball. 

The 1908 ditty was the work of Tin Pan Alley songwriter Jack Norworth. 

"It's sort of a happy, happy tune," said Paula Homan, who runs the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum. "I think the song really lives in baseball. It's so enmeshed now with so many people's baseball experiences." 

Matthew Barton, of the Library of Congress, says he loves old recordings because "they bring you in touch with the drama of history." 

"How many other songs from 1908 do you know that most people can sing the chorus?" he said.

The chorus, yes. But there's an opening verse to that old song -- "Katie Casey was baseball mad, had the fever and had it bad" --that is long forgotten although historically significant. 

"Katie Casey is a fictional young lady," Homan said. "She was invited out on a date by her young beau." 

That's right. The song every fan sings was written from the perspective of a young woman insisting on admission to what back then was a mostly male preserve. And yet it was a big hit.

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The song every baseball fan sings was written from the perspective of a young woman insisting on going to a game.

CBS News

"It was a time when it was really important for women to, you know, start the process of standing up for themselves and bringing awareness to, you know, their value as people," Homan said. 

So, then, was "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" a call for women's liberation?

Think about that the next time you sing, "For it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game."

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.